Meditation Technique by Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra defines meditation, performs a healing meditation and demonstrates the law of attraction and meditation. Rediscover the purpose of meditation and get tips from one of the world’s most respected authors and spiritual guides.
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The Future of God: A New Theory of the Divine – Deepak Chopra


“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
~ Einstein

I would like to offer the following ideas on the Future of God: A New Theory of the Divine.

“It would be very difficult to explain why the Universe would have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.”
~Steven Hawking

A theology that contradicts the known facts of science including the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, cosmo-genesis and evolution is obsolete and rightfully so. A science that reduces the rich inner life of consciousness to raw data is absurd and also obsolete.” ~Deepak Chopra

1. God is Infinite Consciousness. Consciousness is awareness, before thinking starts, before perception happens, before neural activity, before there is relationship with space-time, before there is subject-object split.

2. God is the agent of downward causation.

3. God is the consciousness that differentiates into space, time, energy information and matter.

4. Cosmogenesis, Biopoesis Evolution : The principle of parsimony ( Occam’s razor) dictates that God is the author of the Big Bang (neither big nor noisy) a moment where a point of infinite density and zero volume starts creation in an instant. For the first 10 – 43 seconds of this moment of creation, the laws of creation do not exist and are essentially unknowable. At 10-43 seconds universal constants are arbitrarily assigned. These are about 20, including the mass of the neutron, speed of light, gravitational constant, charge of the electron, strong and weak force etc.

From then on cosmogenesis proceeds automatically obeying the universal laws that have been set in motion. 10 billion years later our sun appears and starts to fragment pieces of itself to create its own solar system, including planet earth 30 million years after the formation of the sun.

Because of conditions already set in motion, a biosphere is created and soon abiogenesis or biopoesis happens, an unknown and possibly unknowable process by which inanimate matter becomes DNA. From then on, microorganisms(chemolithoautotrophic hyperthermophiles) start to differentiate into the teeming diversity of life through gene variation and natural selection.

Photosynthesis develops around 2.5 billion years ago. Evolution proceeds naturally once set in motion through gene variation and natural selection. The current state of this process is Homo Sapiens and an exquisite nervous system through which consciousness becomes conscious of itself through us.

5. Each moment of time a new universe is created. Fundamentally the universe is a discontinuity. In each moment of time the universe is not only recreated but also evolves. This recreation happens in the Gap where consciousness resides. The Gap is
(a) a super position of possibilities
(b) a field of infinite non local correlation, dynamic and kinematic
(c) a field of quantum creativity
(d) an intention field, (the observer effect)–where consciousness collapses its possibility waves into space- time events, which are measured out as motion, energy, information and matter.

All this happens in the unified field — the mind of God.

Related Articles at http://www.intent.com/deepakchopra/blog/play-creation
* The Play of Creation
* Does Time Exist? Part 4: Physicality of Eternity, Consciousness, and Awareness
* Universal or Non-Local Consciousness vs. Local Mind
* “Big Bang” Versus Consciousness and Spirituality; Understanding the Universe from Human Perspective: Part 3
* Does God Have a Future?

Awakening the World: A Global Dimension to Spiritual Practice (Paperback)~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee


The author makes it clear from the outset that for a healthy planet, any attempt at spiritual awakening and practices must be holistic and go beyond each person’s individual self-concern.

That each person pursues their inner opening path is a good thing; but part of the issue is that human greed, corruption, and “darkness” obscures the light energy that comes to the planet and at those roots is often ego-selfishness. So to awaken the world, there must be a global dimension, an unselfish commitment to a larger all-embracing vision.

Vaughan-Lee makes his point with clarity (page 111) when he proposes that the “world spins on an axis of love.” The axis of love encircles the earth “at a very high frequency” and thus is almost undetectable. It nourishes and nurtures life more than most people are aware of. It can be tapped into but in order to do so, we must open and cultivate the heart.

These principles represent a Sufi perspective, but there are wise and penetrating insights that are distinctly Vaughan-Lee’s. An example: “much of our present insecurity comes from a deep knowing that our governments and culture s are planning for a future that will never happen” (p. 45).

From social security to the apparent dead-end of having mobilized the industrialized countries to fight a “war on terrorism,” it is clear that the evolving future is hardly couched in certainty. The author is working hard to substantiate his main point that we must choose spiritual ways to integrate our individual path with the planetary influences of love. It is inarguable that such a perspective can only have salutary effects.

There is a note of darkness in the author’s writing: “since the Golden Age, eras have come and gone…the most recent has focused on (the) masculine which has emphasized the separation between worlds…this veil has become almost impenetrable…due to our rational culture and pursuit of materialism” (p. 64). Hope exists, of course, because the “the world is a living spiritual being” (p. 73) and as such the awakening of the soul of the world (the ancient belief in Anima Mundi) can and is occurring. Even within dark matter there are particles of light. These are wonderful insights and they are expressed with considerable sensitivity.

Like a genuinely enlightened person, he reminds the reader, “every breath is a remembrance of God” (p. xv). If we wish to stop the merry-go-round of our material world preoccupied with power and addicted to influence, we can do so by focusing on each breath in/out, which is a universal meditation of all true spiritual paths.

Finally, it is useful to consider the essential focus of the author in his own words: “the real work of the path is to be able to live the energy and higher consciousness of the self in everyday life.”

Coupled with Vaughan-Lee’s espousal of love as the critical element in global awakening, it becomes clear how these forces can be encouraged or “called”: through the open heart. “The wonder of the heart is that because it contains our higher spiritual intelligence…the energy needed by the world…” is the same for the individual self as it is for the earth as a whole (p. 104-6).

To paraphrase a misguided world figure, it is love which is the uniter, not a divider. The author does a great service by making it clear that the answer rests with unqualified love.

This book is a well-organized succinct statement organized into 7 chapters, a brief Epilogue, 5 concise pages of Notes, a 2 page Bibliography, and a short Index. With its bright cover, we should stock this book in our Spirituality, Religion, and Psychology sections.
Table of Contents

Introduction

1. The First Step
2. Spiritual Maturity
3. Colliding Forces
4. The Relationship Between the Worlds
5. Anima Mundi: Awakening the Soul of the World
6. The Light of the Heart
7. The Axis of Love
Book Review By Thomas Peter von Bahr

Twitter, Ambient Awareness and Spiritual Practice – Steven Vedro


At the request of Steven Vedro, author of Digital Dharma: Metaphors of Consciousness in the Infosphere, I am posting the following article which appeared on his blogsite.

Twitter, Ambient Awareness and Spiritual Practice
Our new IP-based communications systems and forms – the Internet, digital media, pervasive wireless networks and embedded communicating microprocessors – are not only changing our ways of seeing the world, they have pushed us, like it or not, into a new psychic environment of hyper-connectivity. The coupling of electricity with our nervous system over a century ago started the process of (in Marshal McLuhan’s words) “outering” our neurons. From the telephone to radio and television, and now from the internet to the distributed intelligence of peer-to-peer and social networks, we continue to grow more connected, more accessible, more stimulated.

From MySpace and Facebook, and the “twittered” thoughts that fly through one’s mind during the course of the day, our minds are always online, and our personal life is now part of the public record. On the web nothing is protected from our eyes and ears. We have opened every “closet,” short-circuited all the old modes of denial. We are all “data naked” when every transaction, every credit card purchase, every trip through the grocery store, and every phone call (and its originating location) is now “on the record.” Even once-expunged court records (the “clean slate” granted by a judge for minor convictions years ago) are finding their way on to the Web, as records once held only in paper now routinely digitized.

Infection and contagion are the health metaphors of the day. Idea fragments flow from brain to brain, reproducing like viruses; the net’s constant chatter perfectly reflecting the distraction of our planetary “monkey mind.” Pushed into the Infosphere — all of our secrets revealed, our every thought accessible, connected to the planet’s very intelligence — we are challenged to define our boundaries. Who am I and who do I pretend to be? Where am I, and where do I end and you begin? Who do I let into my space, and how can I trust that you say who you are? In critic John Lahr’s words, “we know too much and too little; the world is at once too close and too far away.” For many, addiction to email and texting, Twitter and the Blackberry, are all too real.

Much has been written about this new state of affairs – and much of it is deeply troubling! This wired distopia is a place where global corporations extend their control to the most remote corners of the planet; where the smallest personal action is tracked in giant marketing and “homeland security” databases; a world where physical nature and human love are replaced by computer simulations; where endless distractions keep us moving along, without ever being truly moved. However, while this future is indeed possible, I believe that the emerging metaphor of ambient awareness offers a way out of the shadow land and into deeper connection with our fellow beings and the very physical world that virtual reality seems to abandon.

As the internet exposed us to the dangers of connectivity without boundaries – exposure, infection, and false identities, it also gave us a new freedom to speak truth, to see beyond the masks of the ego-self, corporate and government posturing, and build our own “peer networks.” Social networking allows for addictive connection, personal posturing and closed-minded self-referential “friends circles.” It also offers the possibility of experiencing self as part of a larger web – of friends, of communities of interest and of place, of creation itself. The path of conscious web awareness is not a new invention. It is what all the great mystical traditions have been teaching for millennia. Learning how to navigate a world where everyone and everything is connected, where every object has a voice (if not IP address), where all things can be found, and all that was hidden is seen, where reality comes into being based on what coding scheme is chosen, is at the core of shamanic journeying and magical sight. Perhaps it is time to take some of these esoteric practices into the real world challenges of living in the Infosphere.

FINDING GROUNDEDNESS AND PLACE

In many ways the Infosphere is “placeless.” Our communities are defined by interest, not local geography. We email, text, talk and share video with friends anywhere and at any time: communications taking place without the need for transportation, communication without embodiment. Yet being disconnected from the physical solidity of the body, and from the grounding power of the earth, is something no shaman would allow. Even while traversing the astral realms, he or she maintains the silver cord anchored in this dimension, for without a reference ground, one has no way to decode binary information, to determine a one from a zero. All that remains is noise.

Without a connection to the earth and to the physical body, all signals become static.

We instinctively know this. So many of our technologies involve helping us find our location. Text messages and twits are often simply about place: where I am, what am I doing here, and where am I going. GPS-equipped phones can point the believer to Mecca or search the web for a nearby mosque, or on a more mundane plane, find a particular type of restaurant and tell you how to walk there. GPS tracking allows parents to keep an eye on their children’s driving habits or their pet’s whereabouts. Satellite images of any structure on the planet are now available for all to see – often over the objections of the building owner or the local government. Our technologies are empowering physical locations to tell their stories: cellphone-guided neighborhood tours and local living histories are being developed in many communities, one New York artist has recruited his neighbors to record stories about the love life in their building; another uses stickers with text-messaging numbers to alert passer-bys that something of interest lies nearby.

But, beyond personal awareness of place, the web has given a voice to Gaia herself. We are building grids of network sensors that will crisscross our world. From interactive underwater observatories, connected to each other and to land-based research laboratories, to atmospheric carbon and ozone monitoring stations on the tops of mountains; from stress sensors embedded in roads and bridges, to the emergence of the “smart electrical grid,” data will be pouring in from so many places in our everyday environment: each sensor with its own IP address, each adding its own signal to our collective nervous system.

Like the incessant chatter of our Facebook news feeds and Twitter accounts, we must learn to synthesize and integrate the messages from these extended neurons without becoming overwhelmed or overly thick skinned. The technology of “ambient devices” provides one tool – and a core metaphor – for coping with information overload. These devices track myriads of complex data inputs, synthesize their impact and display them in easy-to-understand interfaces such as a “personal dashboard” or a cyber-pet whose tail changes color as electrical consumption increases and whose purr is replace with a sad grumble as more carbon-based power is added to the mix.

As we learn to monitor our physical and social environments through such intermediaries, we will be challenged to pick data inputs that represent our highest selves. What if we demand that our signaling technologies send us easy-to-understand messages about the planet’s true health as opposed to just the rise and fall of the financial markets? What if we insisted that we use this planetary ambient awareness to electronically track and share the conditions of our environment, the encroachment of the deserts, the thinning of the Ozone Layer, the decline of the ocean’s diversity? Not just the condition of our investment portfolio, but the number of malnourished children in the world?

And, just as we expand awareness to the outer reaches of our environment, we use our sensitized consciousness to tune inwards – to listen to the “cellular tweets” of our own bodies? Imagine receiving a twit from an “awareness partner” asking you to stop and center, to take a deep breath and reflect on one’s inner state. Imagine doing this four or five times a day!

DATA DISCERNMENT AND FILTERING
In an environment where everyone is connected and sharing their every experience, learning how to observe incoming data without reacting to every stimulus is a critical cyber-survival tool. Too heavy a shield (firewall) is as bad as no shield at all. The challenge is to create and flex filters appropriate to the level of protection needed. Knowing whom to trust is the key, and the best filter is a trusted reference. We do this naturally when we decide whom we add to our social network – who will be an acquaintance, and who will be an intimate. Our web networks reflect the same levels of trust that we bring to face-to-face relationships: wide circles of loose friends, and tight sacred circles such as recovery groups, prayer and meditation sanghas, and ad-hoc dance and celebration communities.

Beyond conscious boundary setting, the other lesson of mystic practice that is embedded in digital life, is the recognition that our consciousness is shaped by how we choose to process the signals of our senses. Ambient awareness need not be unconscious. It is a skill that can be cultivated into a powerful tool for not only coping with electronic overload, but also a doorway to greater compassion, peace and personal power. Our flood of tweets and emails can inundate and overwhelm, or like the stick of the Zen master, invite us to pay attention to where we habitually put our attention. The shaman’s skill is in cultivating a wider-seeing vision that takes in all vibrations, and the shield of discernment, that allows her to know what signals require action, and which ones are part of the background symphony of existence.

The mystic sees all reality as a stream of compressed data that most of us decode using habitual, consensual algorithms. Many forms of spiritual practice involve stilling the busy mind and being present to, without being hooked by, these incoming data streams. Awareness meditation is, in effect, a process of observing the instruction codes of reality without processing them into thoughts, emotions and suffering. In Buddhism this is called mindfulness; in Sufi practice it is called Vairagya, watching the codes go by, “indifferent” to one story over another, but still very much connected to the experience of life. Sri Aurobindo called it “seeing with the eye of complete union” – seeing the point of view of each separate thing, while at the same time remembering that all the points are in fact the same – processing the reality of the outer world in full consciousness that one is in fact, data processing.

EXTENDING THE PRACTICE
Without the cultivation of discernment (in whatever form), our technologies of connection will continue to overwhelm us with “data smog” – drawing our attention to every stimulus, resulting in either debilitating hypersensitivity or protective numbness. With practices that expand consciousness and teach appropriate filtering, we can extend the web metaphor into all dimensions, seeing in all of our tweets, texts, emails and videos, the raw data that we use to create personal and consensual “stories” through patterns of prediction based on (intentionally) limited data. Stopping the processor that Joseph Chilton Pearce calls our over-eager “reflective memory,” gives us a moment, however brief, to be in the Now.

I believe that the “ambient awareness” that is emerging within Twitter circles can be extended beyond the subconscious knowledge of what one’s friends are up to, into an actual mindfulness practice. Beyond receiving a tweet to “stop and center” and reflect on one’s inner state, one can set aside time to listen to (and write down or draw) the tweets of one’s heart, of one’s cells, of the water and the rocks, of the sun and stars that surround us – each sending us its own pulse of aliveness. We only need to commit to stop and listen.

As we become more adept at taking in all the signals of our various networks, we may find ourselves reaching beyond the equanimity that comes from awareness practice to something even more powerful: the “seeing-everything-all-at-once” consciousness where one is a node on the network, and simultaneously the entire web itself – an individual data packet traveling outward over a specific radio channel, and the entire spread spectrum symphony of frequencies, part of a joyously noisy communicating system.

Llewellyn Vaughan Lee Q & A “Conciousness Of Oneness”

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Ph.D., is a sheikh in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Order of Sufism. He has specialized in the area of dreamwork, integrating the ancient Sufi approach to dreams with the insights of modern psychology. In recent years the focus of his writing and teaching has been on spiritual responsibility in our present time of transition, and the emerging global consciousness of oneness. Author of several books on the subject, Llewellyn has lectured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He currently lives in California.

There are three Video clips featuring Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee in his talk on:
Questions and Answers on ” Consciousness of Oneness”

Sufi teacher and dreamworker Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee tells us about his own change of orientation from the individual to the collective. Llewellyn explains how his “attention shifted” from an earlier emphasis on the classical mystical process of realizing oneness to the collective transition toward a global consciousness of oneness, and asks if humanity’s survival depends on taking responsibility for this interconnectedness, what is the specific role of the mystic?

Llewellyn Vaughan Lee, a Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi teacher, in Q&A about the Consciousness of Oneness.

Click to view the second and third video clip on Consciousness of Oneness

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Consciousness of Oneness, Introduction: QUESTIONS with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee – 1 Translation(s) | dotSUB.

When The Soul Awakens: The Path to Spiritual Evolution and a New World Era – by Nancy Seifer and Martin Vieweg

Description

In a time of fascination with secrets, this book reveals perhaps the greatest secret of all: the destiny of the human soul. A spark of divine consciousness exists within every human being, lying dormant until it awakens and begins the journey of return to its spiritual source. That momentous turning point, now within the reach of untold thousands, is the focus of this book.

A groundbreaking work, informed by modern esoteric teachings known as the Ageless Wisdom, this book unveils the evolutionary plan for humanity. It presents the transition to a new age as a passage from one stage of consciousness to another, beginning when the soul awakens and sets foot on the spiritual path. This path transforms the isolated personality into a conscious soul, aware of its oneness with all of life.

In darkening times, this book carries a message of hope. It holds the vision of a gathering wave of awakening souls with the collective power to manifest a higher reality on Earth.

List of Chapters

When the Soul Awakens
~ Introduction

I: The Real Human Being
II: The Higher Self
III: Awakening
IV: Rebirth
V: The Path
VI: The Fruits of Suffering
VII: Soul Awareness
VIII: The Soul’s Religion
IX: Saints and Masters
X: The Soul of Humanity and the Divine Plan

Selected Excerpts from When the Soul Awakens

The Introduction:

“What you are searching for is what is searching.”

~Francis of Assisi
The opportunity now facing us is a spiritual one, involving a shift to a higher dimension of awareness. With the daily shattering of illusions about the material world, growing numbers of people around the globe have felt impelled to search for higher truth. For many, this search began in the 1960s and 70s, with the first wave of spiritual awakening sparked by the energies of Aquarius.[1] But events unfolding since 2001 have accelerated and intensified a collective search for what is genuine and real. Millions of people are now engaged in a spiritual quest that is, at its core, a quest for the Soul.

Inevitably, all who embark upon this journey are confronted with mystery, as reflected in Saint Francis’ paradoxical allusion to the soul as both that which is searching and that which is being sought. The true nature of the soul, which Plato called “a divinity,” has been shrouded in mystery for millennia and remains so, despite the recent outpouring of popular books on the subject. What informs most of these books is a consensual reality based on material science—a form of science that recognizes only the tangible, measurable, visible, concrete dimensions of existence.

A century ago, a new kind of science came into being—a “science of the soul.” Though little known in mainstream culture, it has served to fuel the spiritual awakening now occurring around the globe. Esoteric in nature, this new science has furthered human understanding of the invisible, subtle, spiritual dimensions of existence that lie behind the dense material world. It has been put forth in a set of teachings known collectively as the Ageless Wisdom, a blend of truths from East and West. These teachings form a body of wisdom that holds keys to many of the great mysteries that continue to surround the human soul.

Chapter I: The Real Human Being
“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky;
There is one spectacle grander than the sky;
That is the interior of the soul.”

~Victor M. Hugo
Anyone who consults a text or reference book to learn about the nature of a human being will discover that we are large-brained primates capable of creating and using complex tools. That is who we are from the perspective of science. But who are we really? What about hopes and dreams? What about the spiritual dimension of ourselves? How do we account for inspiration and imagination, forgiveness and love, courage and altruism, compassion and empathy? Do such qualities derive from the physical brain, as most scientists still believe, or do they have a different origin?

While pondering such questions, it is instructive to recall that there was a time, not all that long ago in the scheme of things, when the greatest thinkers of our world held a far more wholistic view of the human being. The philosophers of ancient Greece believed that human beings were composed of body and soul, and they attached the greatest importance to the soul. Plato (427–347 BCE), called the “determiner of Western thought,”[2] viewed the soul as the supreme feature of the human being.

In Plato’s understanding, the soul was “the divinity of each one,” the part of us that linked us to the realm of divinity. Every human being was innately endowed with a rational soul, but this divine endowment did not automatically reveal itself. Each individual was destined to engage in a struggle for the rational soul (the highest of three aspects of soul) to control the lesser, more animal-like aspects of our being…

Chapter II: The Higher Self

“The Soul has two eyes.
One looks at time passing,
The other sends forth its gaze into eternity.”

~Angelus Silesius
The wisdom teachings tell us that God, in whose life we exist, has a definite purpose. Life on earth is evolving in accord with an evolutionary plan that is held in the “Mind of God,” the One Life. Moreover, the human soul is said to have the potential to apprehend the next evolutionary goal in the divine Plan and to cooperate in its attainment. As we progress from self-consciousness toward its higher octave, Self-consciousness, we gain the ability to discern the outlines of divine intent. At present, for the first time since the appearance of the human beings on Earth, numbers of spiritual seekers are becoming aware of participating in a greater Life whose purpose we are capable of knowing.

Beyond simply perceiving this purpose, humanity has a unique role to play in its fulfillment, a role that reflects our place in the scheme of planetary life. We are poised to become mediators in a great chain of being—between the three lower kingdoms in nature (mineral, vegetable, and animal) and the next higher one, the spiritual kingdom. Our ultimate purpose, in the coming era, is to infuse the concrete world of form with Spirit by embodying spiritual awareness. When the soul awakens collectively and we begin to live as souls, aware of our inherent relationship to all lives, we will create a bridge in consciousness between higher and lower kingdoms—a process that will be increasingly stimulated as our planet comes more directly under the radiatory influence of the constellation Aquarius.

Before looking ahead to the future, however, it may be useful to take stock of where we are now and from whence we have come. In the course of our long journey of unfoldment, covering many millions of years, we have been cycling into incarnation in order to evolve consciousness. At certain points along this evolutionary trajectory, the expansion of consciousness has been accelerated by the planetary Logos—the intelligent, animating force of our world. This acceleration coincides with periods of great transformation within the life of our planet. We are now living through such a time, and all kingdoms within the One Life are simultaneously being affected.

Chapter III: Awakening

“Lead us from darkness to light,
from the unreal to the real,
from death to immortality.”

~An ancient prayer

This prayer, said to be the oldest prayer known to mankind, finds special resonance with all who awaken spiritually. Piercing the illusions of the world of form, seekers find themselves in a foreign realm, in need of guidance on the path from the unreal to the real. What awaits them is a journey through stages of consciousness leading from the unreality of the limited mortal self to the reality of the eternal Self that knows it is part of the One Life.

Like a dreamer awakening from a long sleep, the soul, as it nears the end of the path of human evolution,[3] breaks through the veil of illusion and penetrates the spiritual plane of reality. Until that time, the individual perceives life through the lens of separateness, experiencing isolation from other people, from nature, from the world, and from the spiritual Source. With awakening comes an unalterable awareness of being part of all that is, an atom in the ebb and flow of a divinely ordered universe.

Awakening experiences are as varied as the individuals who have left records of them. The more dramatic ones, involving awe-inspiring visions of light and awareness of divine presences, are those that have traditionally been labeled “mystical.” Yet breakthroughs to the realm of Spirit commonly involve experiences that are less sensational though no less convincing: recurring awareness of an inner voice, repeated messages from diverse sources, “coincidences” that cannot have been mere happenstance. Whatever forms such encounters take, they shatter the notion of who we are, derived from outer appearances, and propel the seeker further in the direction of what is Real.

Chapter IV: Rebirth

“The body is merely a garment.
Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.”

~Rumi

In the days of ancient Rome, Cicero (106–43 B.C.E.) recorded his observations of the signs of reincarnation in children. After citing “the ancients” who believed in rebirth, including Pythagoras and Socrates, “the wisest of men,” he wrote:

It is again a strong proof of men knowing most things before birth, that when mere children they grasp innumerable facts with such speed as to show that they are not then taking them in for the first time, but remembering and recalling them.[4]

There is a logic to the theory of rebirth that makes sense of otherwise inexplicable differences between human beings. Science cannot explain, on the basis of genetics and environment alone, why there are both serial killers and saints among us. Nor can it account for the extreme differences that exist between siblings—why one is a prodigy and another an ordinary student; why one is a materialist and another is drawn to spirituality. Even among twins, there are marked differences in interests and capacities that can only be explained if we allow for the possibility that their souls have had different “histories.”

Often the question arises as to why, if we have lived before, most of us have no memory of previous lives. The answer seems to lie in the very workings of the laws of conscious evolution. The fact that awareness of past lives is connected to spiritual awakening suggests that a degree of wisdom is necessary before such memory can serve a useful spiritual purpose. Plato hinted at this in his “Myth of Er,” which portrays what occurs after death in “the other world,” as souls choose their next life and prepare for rebirth. Before returning, all souls had to drink from the river Lethe, the Forgetful River, “but those who had no wisdom to save them drank more than the measure.”

For incarnate souls who awaken to their true spiritual nature, the memory of having lived before gradually seeps into conscious awareness, though details of previous existences may not be recalled. In presenting his arguments in support of reincarnation, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930), the British writer, mentioned “vague recognitions and memories which are occasionally too definite to be easily explained as atavistic impressions.” In answer to “the natural question ‘Why, then, do we not remember such existences?’” he wrote:

We may point out that such remembrance would enormously complicate our present life, and that such existences may well form a cycle which is all clear to us when we come to the end of it, when perhaps we may see a whole rosary of lives threaded upon one personality.[5]

Chapter V: The Path

“Soul unfoldment is…but one of the great processes of nature.”

~Alice A. Bailey
One of the names given to the Ageless Wisdom is the “science of the soul.” Unlike physical science this science, paradoxically, is riddled with mystery. Like quantum physics, it deals with subtle dimensions of reality that we cannot see or touch. But in contrast to quantum physics, which has physical instruments to register the subtle physical dimension, the science of the soul teaches us to become the instruments for registering the spiritual dimension. The means by which we evolve to a stage of consciousness at which we are sensitive enough to discern spiritual energies is the path of transformation.

From one angle, what transpires on this path can be explained through the language of science. Keeping in mind that spirit is matter at its highest rate of vibration and matter is spirit at its lowest rate, the soul on the path is actually learning to raise the vibrational frequency of his or her human mechanism to the point where it becomes resonant with the frequencies of the spiritual kingdom. Finding this resonance is what makes possible the soul’s conscious interaction with the next higher kingdom.

And yet, notwithstanding such rational explanations, the process of spiritual transformation is permeated by Mystery. The entire process involves dimensions of consciousness that are, by their very nature, beyond the cognitive powers of the mind—our most advanced, strictly human attribute. It is the Soul, born of spirit, that becomes our guide on the journey between kingdoms, utilizing the two dimensions of mind as needed, but also superseding the mind. As the soul gains access to the plane of higher intuition, it develops the capacity for gnosis—direct spiritual perception—which had always been called “ineffable.”

It was only recently, with the approach of the Aquarian Age and the publication of the wisdom teachings, that “the ineffable” was made, to a certain extent, mentally comprehensible. Previously, with few exceptions, humanity was deemed unprepared to learn the “secret doctrine.” And thus the evolutionary journey of the soul and the nature of the path of transformation remained shrouded in mystery. It was only when a significant number of individuals began to demonstrate a readiness to accept responsibility for the soul’s unfoldment that the Guides of the Race decided to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the origin and destiny of the human race.

Chapter VI: The Fruits of Suffering

“Call the world…‘the vale of Soul-making’
Then you will find out the use of the world.”

~John Keats

Buddhism grew out of Hindu philosophy, yet the Buddha claimed to teach one thing only: “suffering and the end of suffering.” His blinding insight had revealed to him the underlying cause of all suffering: tanha, usually translated as desire. A more precise definition of tanha, according to Huston Smith, is “dislocation,” the result of selfish desire or self-seeking at the expense of others. Acting instinctively, impulsively, and out of alignment with the natural order, one fails to recognize others as “fellow facets of the same Reality”[6] and thus creates karma. The Buddha’s antidote was the Eightfold Path, a path of intentional living aimed at reaching the state of selflessness that leads to Nirvana—the extinction of the separate self in the ocean of Supreme Reality.

Universally, in all major world religions, the root cause of all our woes is living in a state of consciousness in which we are separate from God or Supreme Reality. In the New Testament, a sinner is one who is “cut off from the living God.”[7] The wisdom teachings echo this idea, stating that the only real sin is the sin of separation, as all sins or errors spring from that single all-encompassing error. In the Hindu Upanishads, this separative state is likened to a single grain of sand so encrusted with debris that it is oblivious to the infinitude of grains of sand in which it is immersed.

Pain is viewed as a caustic agent for removing that encrustation. If allowed to seep into our consciousness, without being suppressed, suffering can serve to loosen the layers of debris that build up around the individual who has become thoroughly identified with the threefold personality existing in the world of form. The Tibetan master explains its salubrious effect: “Pain has always been the purifying agent, employed by the Lords of Destiny, to bring about liberation…it tends to focus humanity’s attention upon the life aspect and not upon the form.”[8]

Whether pain is experienced physically, emotionally, or spiritually, it has the effect of shifting one’s gaze away from the outer world and turning it inward to “the life aspect”—the spirit, the part of our being that is independent of the phenomenal world. When suffering is acute, conditioned reflexes and routines of daily living give way to a deeper, more reflective mode of consciousness that allows the Self to emerge into the foreground and with it, the aspect of mind that relates cause and effect in the light of truth. “The uses of pain are many,” the Tibetan master states, “and they lead the human soul out of darkness into light, out of bondage into liberation…”[9]

Chapter VII: Soul Awareness

“All are but parts of one stupendous whole
Whose body nature is, and God the soul.”

~Alexander Pope

In the modern West, there are few individuals other than poets who have written lucidly about the nature of the soul. One who did so, on the basis of inner experience, was Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), the American transcendentalist. Though Emerson was quick to acknowledge the “residuum” of unresolved mysteries surrounding the soul, he had come to view the world through the light of the soul. The oneness of all human souls was a basic truth for him, attributable to “that Unity, that Over-Soul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other[s].”[10]

Emerson sharply contrasted the soul’s perception of reality with the kind of ordinary knowledge that is obtained through the physical senses and the rational mind. “The soul’s scale is one,” he wrote, “the scale of the sense[s] and the [logical] understanding is another.” Calling the measurements of time and space “but inverse measures of the force of the soul,” he lamented the influence of science, which in his view had “in most men overpowered the mind to that degree that the walls of time and space have come to look real and insurmountable.” He reflected:

We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE… We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul.[11]

What enables the soul to see the whole, Emerson asserts, is its oneness with the invisible life force that vitalizes all the separate forms. By contrast, the unillumined concrete mind can perceive only the outer sheath of those forms. The lower mind, looking outward upon the world of time and space through the physical senses, sees only individual forms, including that of its own body, which appears to end with the contours of its skin. By contrast, the soul, perceiving through a higher sense, looks inward to the world of spiritual reality and recognizes that its being, along with the inner being of all forms, is inseparable from the seamless web of Life in our universe.

Chapter VIII: The Soul’s Religion

“Mankind comes to me along many roads,
And on whatever road a man approaches me, on that do I welcome him,
For all roads are mine.”

~The Bhagavad-Gita

One of the most extraordinary witnesses to the universality of the spiritual path was a Hindu saint seen by many as a “prophet for the new age”—Sri Ramakrishna (1836–1886). Ramakrishna’s search for enlightenment was deeply rooted in the Hindu tradition, yet he openly explored the path to God in other forms. For a time he became immersed in the Sufi tradition; years later he had a mystical vision of the Christ, whom he came to revere as a divine avatar. Reflecting on his experience toward the end of his life, Ramakrishna said:

I have practiced all religions—Hinduism, Islam, Christianity—and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu sects. I have found that it is the same God toward whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths… Wherever I look, I see men quarreling in the name of religion… But they never stop to reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Shiva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus and Allah as well.[12]

In the coming age, the wisdom teachings say, the universal truths of religion will be embraced globally while sacred customs and rituals rooted in different cultures will continue to be practiced locally. The oneness or sameness of the path leading into the Kingdom of God will be accepted along with celebrations honoring each religion’s history, traditions, prophets, saints, and avatars. In essence, the soul of religion—all that constitutes its inner core—will be widely acknowledged, while the outer forms will continue to be clothed in robes of many colors.

Chapter IX: Saints and Masters

“When all the race…
As man…has tended to mankind,
…in completed man begins anew
A tendency to God…
For men begin to pass their nature’s bound.”

~Robert Browning

In these few spare lines, with the poet’s magic, Robert Browning (1812–1889) describes the origins of a saint. The journey toward holiness begins with a “completed” human being—one who has surpassed the bounds of “animal-human” nature, or human nature circumscribed by physical reality. As the soul of such a person awakens, there begins a new cycle of lifetimes impelled by “a tendency to God.” When that tendency flowers into a full-fledged union with God, a saint is born. Abilities to heal the sick and “read” souls, to change hearts and shape human events, signal this attainment.

Saints have appeared throughout history in virtually all cultures, as a source of inspiration and hope for humanity. Having transformed themselves by the power of spiritual aspiration and the force of self-discipline, they emerge as links between the human and the divine. Still human, they have been cleansed of the baser nature of our species, imbued with sacrificial love, and endowed with superhuman capacities. Such holy beings have been viewed by other human beings, depending on their own stage of consciousness, as objects of worship, of veneration, or of emulation.

In our postmodern Western culture, it would be easy to dismiss the notion of a saint as anachronistic and anomalous. Despite the fact that the late pope John Paul II canonized more saints than had been canonized by all previous popes combined,[13] the image of our species reflected in the mass media leans conspicuously toward the “sinner” side of the human polarity. When saintly beings do appear on our television screens, such as the late Mother Theresa of Calcutta or the Dalai Lama, they come across to many viewers as fossils of a distant past, if not members of a different species.

And yet, to the seeker on the Path of Return, saints are actual role models. Both individually and collectively, alive and dead, they stand as beacons of light at the end of the road that lies ahead for us all. Esoterically, they represent the outcome of the soul’s natural progression from the human kingdom into the spiritual kingdom. Genuine saints are individuals who have reached the end of the cycle of human lifetimes—the chain of incarnations into the physical world necessitated by karmic debt. Though still in human form, they have evolved to the point of being able to demonstrate aspects of divinity.

Chapter X: The Soul of Humanity and the Divine Plan

“First we receive the light,
Then we impart the light,
Thus we repair the world.”

~The Kabala

The promise of the coming age lies in the evolutionary emergence of the soul. In the new world order, as awareness grows of the consciousness within the form, freedom will be understood in spiritual terms. The vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.—that human beings would some day be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin—is a vision of spiritual freedom. The soul sees past the outer “cloak,” as Rumi put it, to the inner being wearing that cloak, sensing that all of us have worn an array of different cloaks—black and white, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Muslim, Christian and Hindu—in the succession of lifetimes that have led to the present.

And thus, another kind of freedom struggle looms before us. Although the battle to overcome external oppression is far from being won for most of humanity, another battle lies ahead for those who are awakening spiritually: an inner struggle for freedom from imprisoning personality patterns and attachments. This is the heart of “the difficult path.” Also known as the Path of Liberation, the transforming power of this path will bring into manifestation “the one humanity”—the divine idea for the Aquarian Age. When this idea flowers into expression at a higher turn of the spiral of consciousness, individuals will find freedom within the context of community, as the part recognizes its place within the whole.

In recent times, traces of this new consciousness have surfaced at the United Nations. Despite the member states’ habitual clinging to sovereignty, there was an event in 2006 that signaled change. Quietly, unnoticed by the media, the idea of one humanity was officially given voice in a program entitled “Our Common Humanity in the Information Age.” Its central message was “the global community is one family with common values.”[14] Like the muffled sounds of church bells floating above the cacophony of a busy marketplace, new voices are arising at the UN, particularly within the community of NGOs—deemed the most trusted institutions in the world.[15] Their recognition of the oneness of humanity is a notable sign that the soul of our species is awakening.

Spiritual Power – Two Talks by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and H.H. the 17th Karmapa

Using spiritual power for global transformation.

Excerpted from a talk by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

An excerpt from an interview with H.H. the 17th Karmapa

Oneness The Movie

The “Oneness Speaks” flash movie was created by Rasha, author of the book, “Oneness” and was produced by http://www.eCourseForFree.com

Quotes are from Oneness, the Divinity we all share.

The Oneness Moola Mantra by Seven
Source: Kalki Bhagavan ashram / Kosmic music

The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul – Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee Ph.D. [updated Mar 22, 10]

An Excerpt from The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Sufi teacher and writer Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee presents a clarion call to acknowledge and honor the Sacred Feminine and to draw out the divine light and energy of the World Soul. Here is an excerpt on connections.

“As the energy patterns in the world begin to change, more energy will flow to the surface. The free flow of energy around the world that we experience in the global marketplace and in global communication is an aspect of this shift, but these energetic changes are not happening only on the surface level of business and technology. Something within the core of the world is awakening and making its presence felt. A certain barrier that had defined the physical dimension and held it apart from the energies of the inner world is falling away. This has to do with the merging of the inner and outer, the coming together of these two dimensions.

“In our dualistic thinking we forget that a shift in our collective consciousness also means a shift in the earth’s energy. Our science may measure the ecological effects of pollution, climate changes, and global warming, but we do not understand the relationship between our consciousness and the earth. We do not realize that there can be a direct energetic relationship between our collective consciousness and the earth’s energy patterns.

“Responsibility for our planet becomes a central theme as we move into a new era. We need to become more aware of how our attitudes, which are polluting and violating the earth, can disrupt the balance of life. This is not just primitive superstition, but an understanding of the way energy flows in the physical world. In many cultures the work of shamans was to heal any imbalance that we might create in the web of life. To quote Martin Prechtel,

” ‘Shamans are sometimes considered healers or doctors, but really they are people who deal with the tears and holes we create in the net of life, the damage that we all cause in our search for survival.’

“We may be aware of the danger of earthquakes and climate changes, but we have forgotten that the earth can be angry. We do not have enough shamans to repair any imbalance we have created. We do not know how to work with the energy structure of the world. And these patterns of energy are changing, just as our collective consciousness is shifting.

“The heart contains a direct connection to the energy structure of the planet and the ways the energy flows. The heart chakra is the center of the human being, the home of the Self which contains the consciousness of the whole. Because the human being is linked with the whole of creation, the heart gives us access to its energy. The consciousness of the heart can make a real contribution to the balance and flow of the energy of matter. As this energy becomes more awake and active, His lovers are helping to balance it. Like the shamans of previous times, they are working to counter the negative effect of corporate greed and other forces that seek only to exploit the physical world. On a more subtle level they are learning to work with the energy of matter so that its potential can be used beneficially, rather than in the destructive dynamic of chaos.

“Until recently, mystics have mainly worked on the inner planes. But the shift in the energy structure of the planet is turning our attention to the physical plane. At the present this work is in its infancy, but the changes that are taking place require careful attention. Through our attention the awakening energy of the world can flow in a beneficial manner, create the riverbeds that belong to the flow of life in the future.”

I know everyone reading this book will be inspired.
Chapters
1. Reclaiming the Feminine Mystery of Creation
2. The Contribution of the Feminine
3. Patriarchal Deities and the Repression of the Feminine
4. Feminine Consciousness and the Masculine Mind
5. The Sacred Feminine and Global Transformation
6. Women and Healing the Earth
7. The Energy of Matter
8. Anima Mundi: Awakening the Soul of the World
9. Invoking the World Soul
10. The Light of the Soul

[ Click to view the video clip]
http://www.workingwithoneness.org/movies/feminine/wof_clipw.html

Reclaiming Our Spiritual Heritage – Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee [updated]

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.Sufi teacher and author.

Reclaiming Our Spiritual Heritage

We live in a culture of religious diversity that is at present experiencing a reawakening of interest in spirituality. If we are to more fully understand what this reawakening might mean, it seems to me that we need to clarify the traditional difference between religion and spirituality, between the exoteric and the esoteric.

Exoteric refers to a religious doctrine or body of knowledge that is accessible to anyone. It does not rely upon one’s individual inner experience of the divine or what is sacred. Religious teachings have often emphasized that following religious doctrine is more important than one’s individual spiritual experience, and some have discouraged inner experiences altogether.

In contrast, esoteric teachings and their practices are usually a way to help the individual have a direct inner experience of the sacred. They are based upon the understanding that there is a world of the spirit that is very different than the purely physical world of the senses. Esoteric studies often involve specific spiritual practices that are quite distinct from religious observances. These practices are a way to access the world of the spirit–leading finally to awaken or be born into this reality that is invisible to our physical eyes.

Spiritual teachings of all cultures tell us that just as we have a physical body, so too do we have a spiritual body. This is the body of our spiritual self. In some Indian traditions it is described as having a series of energy centers, or chakras. In Sufism it is described as a series of chambers within the heart–that just as we have a physical heart we also have a spiritual heart which contains our divine consciousness.

In Taoism it is sometimes imaged as a spirit body or light body. Our spiritual body has qualities such as peace, bliss and endless love that are rarely found in our outer lives. What is common to most esoteric traditions is that we can access this spiritual body through specific practices or techniques, meditation, mantra, breathing practices and others.

Many religions have an esoteric core, for example the Jewish Kabbalah, or Sufism which is known as the heart of Islam. Yet, at different times in history religions have banned or persecuted as heresy esoteric teachings and their practitioners.

Early Christianity had a known esoteric dimension, for example in the teachings of the Gospel of Thomas that point to an inner spiritual mystery, as in the words of Jesus: “I disclose my mysteries to those who are worthy of my mysteries.” Sadly the orthodoxy of the early Church banned the inner, esoteric aspect of Jesus’ teachings, and the Gospel of Thomas became heresy, its copies destroyed, until one copy was rediscovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945.

The esoteric, spiritual teachings that can be found within many religions, shamanic and other traditions form part of our spiritual heritage. They remind us that we are not just physical beings in a physical world, but that our lives and also our bodies have a spiritual dimension. We are beings of light as well as flesh and blood.

There is a world within and around us to which we can have access that is very different to the physical world. Yet the spiritual and physical worlds are not separate, but interpenetrate and nourish each other.

At this present time there is a hunger for direct inner experience, a need to reclaim our spiritual heritage. While our materialistic culture tries to keep our attention firmly in the physical world of the senses, many of us sense a longing to know this hidden mystery of what it means to be human.

And so we are able to turn to the teachings and traditions that have been given to us, whether in yoga, Buddhist meditation, Sufi dhikr or other spiritual practices. It is important to recognize the root of our longing, that we are no longer prepared to live in a purely physical world, but need the living presence of the spiritual. We need to know and be nourished by the invisible world that is within us and all around us. We need to reclaim the mystery and magic of being fully alive.

We also need to confront the specter of death. So many people, knowing only the physical world, remain frightened of death. Religious teachings create a clear division between this life and the afterlife, which may carry the promise of heaven or the threat of hell. Spiritual experience can lift the veils between the worlds, allowing us to glimpse a spiritual reality while we remain present in the physical world.

Many people have had near death experiences in which they see a light at the end of a tunnel. Our spiritual heritage can give us access to this light while we are still in this world. This is the light found within the heart, the light of our divine self. It is beautifully imaged in the Gospel of St. Matthew which speaks about the oneness of real inner perception: “If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”

Spiritual life can take us beyond death. In Sufism this is called “to die before you die,” to awaken to the world of light while still alive in this world. Then you know that there is no such thing as death, or in Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Thomas, “Whoever discovers the interpretations of these sayings will not taste death.”

Spiritual truth is at the heart of all religions, and yet it is also beyond the divisions that plague our world. It is about the oneness, the love and the light that is within us all, and to which as human beings we can have access.

Spiritual teachings and their practices can give us each our own individual experience of this very human reality, help us to live in the light of this oneness rather than stumbling in the darkness of so many divisions. I feel that our present spiritual reawakening is a deep longing, a need to step into this light.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee Ph.D. is a Sufi teacher and author. In recent years the focus of his writing and teaching has been on spiritual responsibility in our present time of transition, and the emerging global consciousness of oneness (see http://www.WorkingWithOneness.org). He has also specialized in the area of dreamwork, integrating the ancient Sufi approach to dreams with the insights of Jungian psychology. Llewellyn is the founder of The Golden Sufi Center. His most recent books are The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul and Alchemy of Light.

For further reading on the spiritual world of light, see Vaughan-Lee, Alchemy of Light.

W. Davis: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

Native guidance

What does it mean to be human and alive?

The thousands of different cultures and languages on Earth have compellingly different answers to that question. “We are a wildly imaginative and creative species,” Davis declared, and then proved it with his accounts and photographs of humanity plumbing the soul of culture, of psyche, and of landscape.

He began with Polynesians, the wayfinders who mastered the Pacific ocean in the world’s largest diaspora. Without writing or chronometers they learned 220 stars by name, learned to read the subtle influence of distant islands on wave patterns and clouds, and navigated the open sea by a sheer act of integrative memory. For the duration of an ocean passage “navigators do not sleep.”

In the Amazon, which used to be thought of as a “green hell” or “counterfeit paradise,” living remnants may be found of complex forest civilizations that transformed 20 percent of the land into arable soil. The Anaconda peoples carry out five-day rituals with 250 people in vast longhouses, and live by stringent rules such as requiring that everyone must marry outside their language. Their mastery of botany let them find exactly the right combination of subspecies of plants to concoct ayahuasca, a drug so potent that one ethnobotantist described the effect of having it blown up your nose by a shaman as “like being shot out of a rifle barrel lined with Baroque paintings and landing in a sea of electricity.”

In the Andes the Incas built 8,500 miles of roads over impossibly vertical country in a hundred years, and their descendents still run the mountains on intense ritual pilgrimages, grounding their culture in every detail of the landscape.

In Haiti, during the four years Davis spent discovering the chemical used to make real-life zombies, he saw intact African religion alive in the practice of voodoo. “The dead must serve the living by becoming manifest” in those possessed. It was his first experience in “the power of culture to create new realities.”

The threat to cultures is often ideological, Davis noted, such as when Mao whispered in the ear of the Dalai Lama that “all religion is poison,” set about destroying Tibetan culture.

The genius of culture is the ability to survive in impossible conditions, Davis concluded. We cannot afford to lose any of that variety of skills, because we are not only impoverished without it, we are vulnerable without it.

PS. Wade Davis’ SALT talk was based on his five Massey Lectures in Canada last year, which are collected in a book, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World.
— by Stewart Brand

W. Davis: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

( Click to view the video )

“What Is Being?” Adyashanti

Have you ever noticed that while your body, thoughts, and emotions are totally different than they were years ago, there is something about you that hasn’t changed at all? In this clear and dynamic satsang, Adyashanti illuminates this unchanging sense of “I” as the ultimate dimension that we have been seeking all along. This satsang includes a superb dialogue about how to respond to suffering in the world.

The Evolution of God By Robert Wright


Thank God for agnostics. Over the past decade, our public conversation about religion has all too often degenerated into a food fight between the religious right and the secular left. Now comes journalist Robert Wright with a gentler approach: a materialist account of religion that manages (sort of) to make room for God (of a sort).

The Evolution of God” is a big book that addresses a simple question: Is religion poison? Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, much ink and many pixels have scrutinized the late Harvard professor Samuel Huntington’s prophesy of a coming “clash of civilizations” between the Christian West and the Islamic world. Is Islam a religion of war? What about Judaism and Christianity?

The assumption underlying many answers to these questions — an assumption shared by fundamentalists and “new atheists” alike — is that religions are what their founders and scriptures say they are, rather than what contemporary practitioners make them out to be.

Wright rejects this assumption. No religion is in essence evil or good, he writes. Scriptures are malleable. Founders are betrayed. At least for historians, there is little provocation here. The provocation comes when Wright claims that religious history seems to be going somewhere, as if guided by an invisible hand. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all appear to have a “moral direction,” and that direction is toward the good.

Christians have contended for centuries that Jesus replaced the Jewish God of wrath with the Christian God of love. Wright argues that this evolution from malevolence to benevolence happens in each of the Abrahamic religions. In each case, God starts out with a whip in his hand and a sneer on his lip.

So score one for the new atheists. But the God of vengeance who cares only about his own people gradually evolves into a God of compassion who cares about us all. In the process, the Western monotheisms advance from belligerence to tolerance. Religion’s original sin of violence is redeemed.

To explain how this “salvation” (his word) occurs, Wright draws from his prior books on evolutionary psychology (“The Moral Animal”) and game theory (“Nonzero”).

The key argument is that, ever since hunters and gatherers have been hunting and gathering, the invisible hand guiding human history has been working (largely through advances in technology and communication) to create non-zero-sum situations that force historical actors, often against their own inclinations, into ever-widening circles of moral concern.

Jews, Christians and Muslims are led (gradually and in fits and starts) toward moral universalism not because religions are inherently good but because believers are inherently flexible — flexible enough to see when they and their enemies are in the same boat.

All this happens, it should be emphasized, on entirely naturalistic grounds. Wright, a self-described “materialist,” believes that history is driven not by fiat from on high but by natural selection via “facts on the ground.”

In his account, Judaism gives rise to Christianity and Islam without even a whiff of the supernatural. And the Apostle Paul — “the Bill Gates of his day” — is “just another savvy and ambitious man who happened to be in the religion business.”

Yet all Wright’s talk of “business models” and “algorithms” and “positive network externalities” somehow opens up the conversation about God rather than closing it down. In this oddly old-fashioned book, which recalls Hegel more than anyone else, Wright speaks repeatedly of “design” and “goals” and “purposes” in human history.

In the end, Wright allows himself to wonder whether the evolution of “God,” the concept, might provide evidence for the existence of God, the reality. “If history naturally pushes people toward moral improvement, toward moral truth, and their God, as they conceive their God, grows accordingly, becoming morally richer,” he writes, “then maybe this growth is evidence of some higher purpose, and maybe — conceivably — the source of that purpose is worthy of the name divinity.”

Whether this Gospel of Maybe will make many converts is doubtful. There are bones thrown here and there to atheists and believers alike, but no red meat. So the final judgment may be that the book is too hard on faith to please religious folk and too easy on dogma to please secularists.

Still, it is hard not to envy Wright for his Obamaesque hope. There is reason to hope, he writes, that the Abrahamic religions can get along with one another, with science and with the modern world. But Wright also exhibits an even more radical hope: that human beings might learn to talk about religion in a manner that is both civil and intelligent.

For decades the faithful and the faithless operated in the United States under a gentlemen’s agreement to leave one another alone. Yes, we had our Bryans and our Menckens during the Scopes trial in the 1920s, but after that, belief and disbelief retreated to their respective corners. Then came the religious right and church buses for Reagan, to which Harris and Hitchens and Dawkins and Dennett rightly cried foul.

If God is going to be used to prop up Republican policies, it is perfectly legitimate for people with different politics to try to cut the Republican God down to size. And so we find ourselves in the sort of scuffle between believers and unbelievers that hasn’t been seen since evolution and the Bible went toe to toe in Dayton, Tenn.

In American religion, as in U.S. politics, however, the middle is far bigger than the extremes combined. Most Americans don’t believe God and evolution are at war. And only fools want another crusade against Islam.

So thank God or “God” or whatever matters most to you for this book, not so much for its arguments as for its tone, which offers the sort of hope even unbelievers can believe in: that we can somehow learn to talk about religion without throwing our food.

Stephen Prothero is a religious studies professor at Boston University and the author of “Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — and Doesn’t.”

Robert Wright discusses his book, “The Evolution of God”

Andrew Harvey, Ph.D. on OurPassion.tv (Pt. 1, 2 & 3)

Alixandra interviews Andrew Harvey, Ph.D., youngest recipient of a fellowship at Oxford University. He speaks brilliantly about spirituality, protection, development, expansion, circles of power and more. Prolific and brilliant author of 30 books and the leader of Sacred Activism, he expands on his new book, The Hope.


PART 2

PART 3

What Does it Mean to Know God?

Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (Dr. Frank Morales, Ph.D.) gives a compelling talk about what it means to know God. When another being is treated like a subject and not merely an object they may reveal their true self.

The God Delusion – By Richard Dawkins

The Root of All Evil? – The God Delusion

The God Delusion is a 2006 bestselling non-fiction book by British biologist Richard Dawkins, professorial fellow of New College, Oxford, and inaugural holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford.

In The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that belief in a personal god qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence. He is sympathetic to Robert Pirsig’s observation in Lila that “when one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.”

As of January 2010, the English version of The God Delusion had sold over 2 million copies. It was ranked #2 on the Amazon.com bestsellers’ list in November 2006. In early December 2006, it reached #4 in the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller list after nine weeks on the list. It remained on the list for 51 weeks until 30 September 2007. .The German version, entitled Der Gotteswahn, had sold over 260,000 copies as of January 28, 2010.

It has attracted widespread commentary, with many books written in response.

Source: Wikipedia

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution – Richard Dawkins

#1 Bestseller in Britain!
#1 Bestseller in Australia!
#1 Bestseller in Ireland!
#1 Bestseller in Canada!

Richard Dawkins gives an introduction to his new book “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.” He explains why this book was necessary, and what readers can expect from this highly-anticipated work.

Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, “On the Origin of Species”, shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later.

Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. In “The Greatest Show on Earth”, Richard Dawkins takes on creationists, including followers of ‘Intelligent Design’ and all those who question the fact of evolution through natural selection.

Like a detective arriving on the scene of a crime, he sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case: from the living examples of natural selection in birds and insects; the ‘time clocks’ of trees and radioactive dating that calibrate a timescale for evolution; the fossil record and the traces of our earliest ancestors; to confirmation from molecular biology and genetics.

All of this, and much more, bears witness to the truth of evolution. “The Greatest Show on Earth” comes at a critical time: systematic opposition to the fact of evolution is now flourishing as never before, especially in America.

In Britain and elsewhere in the world, teachers witness insidious attempts to undermine the status of science in their classrooms. Richard Dawkins provides unequivocal evidence that boldly and comprehensively rebuts such nonsense.

At the same time he shares with us his palpable love of the natural world and the essential role that science plays in its interpretation. Written with elegance, wit and passion, it is hard-hitting, absorbing and totally convincing.

Richard Dawkins Interviewed on SBS Dateline

“Mystic Wisdom” Glimpses

Midnights with the Mystic: A Little Guide to Freedom and Bliss
by Cheryl Simone

Sadhguru – A synopsis
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is the founder of Isha Foundation. He is a realized master, yogi and mystic from who embodies the universal truths of the great spiritual masters of east and west, which transcend religious divide. Through public talks and yoga programs, he teaches a unique perspective to all seeking a higher expression of life, inner peace, health and fulfillment.

As a world spiritual leader and spokesperson, Sadhguru inspires international audiences with his spiritual and cultural views on human values. His speaking tours and media interviews provide a forum for him to address hundreds of thousands of people on the synthesis of spirituality and science and his vision for establishing a spiritual foundation in all dimensions of life.

Sadhguru encourages people to evaluate and enhance their responsibility and contribution to society and the world. He affirms that it is only through individual involvement that we can change the world.

Sadhguru is a member of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which he attended at the United Nations in 2000. As an active supporter of the World Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders’ efforts to relieve suffering, foster harmony, and promote the dignity of all life, Sadhguru works to introduce people to essential changes in thought and action that support peaceful possibilities.

His initiatives for world peace and his outreach programs for life-term prisoners, destitute children and rural rejuvenation are internationally renowned. By working in harmony with all spiritual traditions, Sadhguru helps transform individuals as a lasting way to establish a peaceful and prosperous global society.

Born in Mysore, Karnataka, he graduated from Mysore University. He started yogic practices like pranayams and asanas under Shri Raghavendra Rao, popularly known as Malladihalli Swami.

At the age of 25, he had a spontaneous experience of the Self (Divine or Ultimate Consciousness) that completely changed his life. His source of wisdom comes from direct, inner experience.

In Sanskrit, “Guru” means dispeller of darkness, and “Sadh” means within. Sadhguru developed Isha Yoga, Yoga of the Divine, as a spiritual science for hundreds of thousands of initiates around the world to transcend the body and mind in order to reach the ultimate reality, the awareness of the essential divine nature within all human beings.

A glimpse of Sadhguru’s life and work can be had through the four books including Encounter the Enlightened, Dhyanalinga:The Silent Revolution, Eternal Echoes and a new release, Mystic’s Musings.

He is a great teacher and humanitarian who tirelessly devotes his life to advance human consciousness by helping individuals break through limitations into their natural unbounded state. In his own words, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev distinctly defines his life and work: This life for me is an endeavor to help people manifest their divinity.”

A series of intimate conversations with a wise and charismatic guru is a compelling idea. How many times have each of us wished for answers to life’s deep questions?

In this DVD follow-up to the newly released book, “Midnights with the Mystic”, Cheryl Simone relates her personal experience of learning at the feet of Sadhguru Vasudev, India’s most sought-after mystic.

As we share in her profound experiences, we are challenged to embrace the possibility that to each of us is available a higher realm of reality, a peak of consciousness, an entre into the realm of freedom and bliss.

Conversation with a Mystic – Dr. Charles Ashanin

Book: Mystic in the Graveyard: The Exile of Charles Bozidar Ashanin
by Peter Denbo Haskins

Dr. Ashanin’s great love and awareness of God gave him rare insight into the souls and spiritual needs of others. He saw and felt things of the spirit in ways that most people cannot.

Though he never claimed to be so, Dr. Ashanin was a true mystic, combining an all-consuming devotion to the Presence of the Holy with gifts of clairvoyance, wisdom and a profound understanding of Scripture and of the writings of the early teachers of the Faith.

As a scholar of early Church History, he inspired many students with his genuine living out of the Gospel through his care of their souls. At the university of Ghana in Lagos, Africa, at Allen and Claflin Universities in South Carolina, and finally for 23 years at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dr. Ashanin was more than a professor  -  he was a mentor, beloved friend and companion on the spiritual journey.

Dr. Ashanin’s deep life of prayer and compassion also committed him to ecumenism, to the Body of Christ in all its manifestations. As a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church with twelve hundred years of Slavonic spirituality in his soul, he worked closely with students studying for the Protestant ministry, enriching their traditions and perspectives of the Gospel in the manner of a true “staretz” (spiritual guide).

This ecumenical commitment cost him greatly. For its sake, he suffered the disdain and persecution of colleagues whose “modern” Christianity mocked and rejected his devotion to the transforming spirituality of the early Church.

A dialogue with Dr. Charles Ashanin, a beloved professor of Early Church History, a clairvoyant friend, and a passionate Orthodox from Montenegro. Though he was “born into Heaven” in 2000, Charles remains very much present in the hearts and minds of his many friends. A book on his life was just released this year (2006) entitled “Mystic in the Graveyard”

This studio conversation was taped years ago, but the wisdom of Dr. Ashanin and the tradition he represents is alive and well.

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