A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World by Thomas Moore (Author)

The New York Times bestselling author and trusted spiritual adviser offers a follow-up to his classic Care of the Soul. View Here

Something essential is missing from modern life. Many who’ve turned away from religious institutions—and others who have lived wholly without religion—hunger for more than what contemporary secular life has to offer but are reluctant to follow organized religion’s strict and often inflexible path to spirituality. In A Religion of One’s Own, bestselling author and former monk Thomas Moore explores the myriad possibilities of creating a personal spiritual style, either inside or outside formal religion.

Two decades ago, Moore’s Care of the Soul touched a chord with millions of readers yearning to integrate spirituality into their everyday lives. In A Religion of One’s Own, Moore expands on the topics he first explored shortly after leaving the monastery. He recounts the benefits of contemplative living that he learned during his twelve years as a monk but also the more original and imaginative spirituality that he later developed and embraced in his secular life. Here, he shares stories of others who are creating their own path: a former football player now on a spiritual quest with the Pueblo Indians, a friend who makes a meditative practice of floral arrangements, and a well-known classical pianist whose audiences sometimes describe having a mystical experience while listening to her performances. Moore weaves their experiences with the wisdom of philosophers, writers, and artists who have rejected materialism and infused their secular lives with transcendence.

At a time when so many feel disillusioned with or detached from organized religion yet long for a way to move beyond an exclusively materialistic, rational lifestyle, A Religion of One’s Own points the way to creating an amplified inner life and a world of greater purpose, meaning, and reflection.

Thomas Moore was a monk for twelve years, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist. He writes regularly for Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, Spirituality & Health, and Resurgence Magazine. He lectures widely on holistic medicine, spirituality, psychotherapy, and the arts. Moore has been awarded numerous honors, including the Humanitarian Award from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and an honorary doctorate from Lesley University. Thomas is the author of eighteen previous books, including Care of the Soul, Soul Mates, and Dark Nights of the Soul. He lives in New Hampshire.

Look Inside

A Religion of One’s Own (Thomas Moore)

NY Times best-selling author Thomas Moore spent 13 years as a monk and quit upon being ordained to create a religion of his own. CJ Liu and Thomas discuss his newest book “A Religion of One’s Own

Q: What are benefits of following a traditional religious path?

Thomas Moore describes what he got through his 13 years of being a monk and how he got the teachings into his bones and his body. While he no longer has a formal affiliation with the Catholic church, it’s still “in” him. He believes that his years as a monk helped him learn more deeply about Catholicism ( stories, theology, rituals, personalities, histories).

Q: How can you someone get the benefits of going deep as he did as they create a religion of their own?

Thomas describes how he has studied Zen Buddhism and Greek Polytheism and how both have affected him as much as Catholicism. Thomas describes how reading the religious text is just one way of understanding a religion deeply, but other ways a religion is by understanding the practices and culture (language, music, personalities, lecturers, physical practices) not just the ideas.

Q: What does it mean to go deep into a religion (academic understanding)?

It’s not about making up your own religion, but not thinking of religion as hierarchies, rules,etc, but religion as a way of being in the world. You can have a huge understanding of the academics, but still not have a true experience of it. Thomas is emphasizing a religion as an experience and as a way of finding meaning as opposed to an organization or group of beliefs.

Q: What are critical components of creating your own religion?

Many religions have rules to live by, structures, rituals, it seems like a simple way to pursue religion. The trouble with having someone else tell you what to do and think, is that it can be quite shallow. You can be passively going to church in a hypnotic state. We need to have deep ethics that come from a heart and a love of people and love of planet or otherwise those ethics are superficial. It’s not about constructing a religion, but being in this world where you are thinking things more deeply. Your ethics are your own and something you have cultivated deeply, and not just following a list of do’s and don’ts but really have a sense of how you want to behave in this world. Other world religions are great sources to explore and delving into them. You can get a great deal from them and help you as you develop yourself into a religious person. You may find that when you study a religion, you may go in and out of them. It should not be a burden, which is an old way of thinking about religion. How can you get to the point where you get EAGER to want to know about a religion? Pursuing a religion of one’s own should be exciting, pleasurable, meaningful,joyful, etc. It requires some attention and studying of the texts.

Isn’t crafting your own religion like being in a cafeteria? It’s not the same as crafting a dinner, but not as fancy or nutritious, but it can be something that is the right thing for you. Not be too superficial and skimming a popular idea off the top.

How do you start creating your own religion?

There are some rituals you can make on your own. Nature may not have a central place in your life, but go off to the natural world (river, forest, mountain) as nature is a conduit of infinity and transcendence. Go to a river and really think about it, do a soul meditation. Take it in and have it sink in. This place in nature can be as sacred as a church. Ritual is usually not a one off thing, but something you do repetitively. Once a week go to river or place in nature. Like Henry David Thoreau, you may not like a formal religion, but be a very religious person. He did not do his practice because someone told him, but because he wanted to do it. After going to the river 3 to 4 weeks, you may find that you will lose yourself and have a mystical experience and you notice that there is sludge in river, your ethics will come in. You develop your own sense of ethics, versus someone else telling you which ethics to focus on. Have ethics that come from your heart, because you feel connected and attached. This is morality. Moralism is when someone else tells you what you should you do. Moralism is about “should’s” and “guilt” and it doesn’t go as deep or as far. You go to river and sit their quietly for a few times and really take it in, you will notice a change in yourself and you discover why some people in the world call the river sacred and valuable.

Thomas Moore at the Garrison Institute

In April 2014 the Garrison Institute hosted a retreat and public talk with Thomas Moore, bestselling author of Care of the Soul and A Religion of One’s Own. In this interview, Moore describes how he has come to understand distinctions between religion and spirituality, soul and spirit, and how to infuse them into daily life.

The Elixir of Awakening – Richard Moss

Starting with a personal anecdote of a moment of being shocked into awareness by Brugh Joy in 1975, Richard describes the essential need to develop the witnessing capacity of the aware ego — observing and feeling what arises in our bodymind while remaining in non action.

To Accept Ourselves or Transform? by Dhanpal-Donna Quesada

When you make some special effort to achieve something, some excessive quality, some extra element is involved in it. ~Shunryo Suzuki

You know you’re surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don’t have to always be in charge. Instead of trying harder, you trust more. ~Rick Warren

The quotes above emphasize the importance of letting go of the illusion of control. It’s a teaching that comes forth in all traditions, no matter how we couch it, from the Christian maxim to Let Go, Let God, to the Zen maxims that tell us to flow with whatever happens.

But, if we truly practice acceptance, won’t we become complacent, without really bothering to make improvements. And isn’t that what life is for…to improve?

Yes, we’re here to evolve, but it will never work when our eye is fixed on a certain outcome. The reason why is because a specific outcome is just a fantasy, concocted by our imaginations. And ironically, although it is created by our imaginations, which take us into the realm of the limitless, a specific outcome can be very limiting, since (1) we hardly ever get to choose the exact outcome (2) there are conceivably better outcomes than the one we imagined and (3) it is by definition conceptualized and takes us out of the present moment.

So then, how do we approach the task of healthy evolution? What is the right approach, especially when there is something seriously wrong that needs to be changed, for example, addictions, or some other self-defeating, self-degrading habit?

A conscious strategy would be to set an intention to incorporate a healthy, self-promoting habit into your daily life. In Yoga, we call it a sadhana, a daily spiritual discipline and commitment to meet ourselves, as we are, and where we are, everyday. A daily practice that brings us in touch with the present moment and what it feels like to breathe and move into our bodies, enables a connection to be made—a connection to inner stillness. It also renders conscious, what was previously unconscious.

This active process of shining the light of awareness onto what was heretofore hidden, keeps us in touch with an abiding source of strength and empowerment that can only be found within. It also keeps us in touch with the unchanging essence of who we are—because those habits that we’d like to change are not who we are. These are practices from meditation or Tai Chi, to simply walking in nature.

The irony is that, when we meet ourselves with honesty, as we are, we release the chains that have kept us from who we are to be.

When we cultivate a daily practice, and infuse it with our heartfelt intention, rather than fixate on a specific goal, we discover a much more effective and elegant strategy. When we try to change habits with iron will, by focusing only on the end result, we tend to hit a wall, since willpower can only go so far. But the rub is that our uncompromising focus on the result engenders nothing but frustration and anxiety. This is the reason dieters quickly become fixated, to the point of obsession, on food…the very thing they are trying to find a copacetic relationship with quickly becomes a monster of a problem.

Lessening our grip on the end result, and instead, redirecting our focus to our daily practice quickly becomes a source of upliftment. The intention itself, along with our conscious awareness spent in real-time, keeps us grounded in the present moment, and places us in the driver’s seat—I can only control what I do in this moment. And the result is our empowerment and increasing confidence that is generated from the inside out, rather than feigned as iron will, which leads us right back to discouragement, time and time again.

Transformation starts with wholehearted acceptance of where we are right now.

As it happens, this is a compassionate approach. Each time we sit, we accept who we are in this moment, complete and whole as we are, with all our warts and bruises. Yogic wisdom has long reminded us that transformation is a lifetime process. Several lifetimes, actually! As one of our own famously said, even though you know the staircase is there, you can only take one step at a time.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s a funny thing, we humans tend to be hard on ourselves, as if it would serve the purpose of knocking us into the right direction. The opposite is true. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali explains that a harsh and critical approach to transformation is a scarcely camouflaged form of ignorance.

Ignorance, in Vedic teaching (as in Buddhist teachings) is not defined as deficiency of information in the conventional sense, but rather, confusion with regard to who we really are.

In other words, when we find ourselves inflicting criticism and blame on ourselves for not being able to effectively change some behavior—not to mention the guilt we seem to to enjoy sucking on so much, like an after dinner mint—we are confusing our habit with our identity. Seeing clearly means to see the habit for what it is…just a habit.

This is where self-love comes in. Loving where you are closes the gap between here and where we’d like to be. As long as that gap exists, we’re not whole. To heal is to make whole. So, letting go of the space entails letting go of the “goal,” and embracing ourselves as perfect, right here and now.

Although modern approaches to therapy are beginning to see the wisdom of the compassionate approach, the resistance comes from the deeply ingrained belief we have as western people, that we need to “be tough,” in order to properly “kick ourselves into action.”

The reality is that this “tough guy” approach, or self-bullying often backfires into “I already screwed things up, so I might as well go all the way.” And the cycle continues.

But, by bringing ourselves to the cushion everyday, or to the Dojo, or to a healing place in nature, where we can create a sacred, meditative space, we momentarily (and that’s all we ever have, anyway, is a moment) drop our defenses and welcome ourselves in, no matter the discomfort and general unease. And low and behold, the discomfort loses its charge! It was the discomfort and defensiveness that led us into the habits in the first place, and so, they too, start to lose their power over us.

This is the power of simply being, in conscious awareness. We are in constant renewal and change, anyway, whether unconscious or conscious; why not bring consciousness to it?

In conclusion, self love in real time allows our inner trauma to be digested. Remember, the habit is, after all, a symptom, rather than an intrinsic part of who we are. So we’re getting to the cause, by healing on the inside. We’re unlocking it, listening to it, letting it move through us. We’re re-inhabiting this damaged space that we were trying to fill with the wrong things, be it cigarettes , food, shopping or alcohol, etc. We were looking for comfort in all the wrong places!

But, now, we can begin the alchemy of transformation, as we re-connect with our body, mind and spirit, with love…

And the habits change of their own accord.

Source: Donna Quesada

The Four Noble Truths, Death & Was Buddha a Pessimist?

Prof. Quesada, in class at Santa Monica College, explains “Buddha’s Four Noble Truths” and the “Three Marks of Existence,” with special emphasis on the meaning of “Dukkha.” Questions asked along the way, deal with whether or not Buddha was a pessimist, as well as what he meant by death.

Watch This Beautiful 10-Minute Film On The Current State Of Neuroscience

Watch This Beautiful 10-Minute Film on the Current State of Neuroscience
The brain is one of the most-studied – and most complex – things on the planet, so it can be hard to keep up with what the current state of neuroscience is. This 10-minute video does a wonderful job of explaining.

It’s a whistle-stop tour of the entire field of brain science, from the treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases and brain-computer interfaces, to building unprecedented maps of the brain’s deep-most connections and the ethics of tampering with them. It ricochets between researchers from places like Imperial College London, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Stanford and Max Planck Institute. And it’s also beautifully put together. It’s well worth a watch.

Source: Gizmodo

Clare Blanchflower – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Published on Oct 12, 2015

Clare originates from London, UK. After studies in Interior and Spatial Design she entered creative academic life and became an Associate Lecturer and Studio Leader in Conceptual Design at Chelsea College of Art – University of the Arts, London.

In 1994 she found herself in a 9 year journey with a chronic debilitating illness that led her deep within and into the practice of Sivananda Yoga and Meditation and eventually to Tibetan Medicine. She apprenticed in Tibetan medicine and spiritual philosophy for 5 years. Following this, she trained in Massage Therapy and Maya Abdominal Therapy and set up a healing practice for women.

In August 2007, she followed a soul call and immigrated to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada where she continued her work with women—healing wombs, counselling and teaching feminine embodiment, yoga and meditation.

From a very early age Clare had a sense that she was part of something ‘greater’ that she could not quite see and her search for what was ‘missing’ started in earnest. Her ‘story’ was of a life committed to seeking – truth, love, meaning, purpose, contentment and freedom and through years of searching and some profound awakening experiences she found a degree of peace supported by a devoted spiritual practice.

In November 2012 during a satsang with Lorne and Lucia Hoff she experienced an awakening shift that changed her life beyond recognition. A shift out of identification with a separate self into unbounded present moment awareness.

Soon after she experienced two other clear shifts, revealing unity, God knowing, reality, totality and an indescribable supreme wordless peace beyond consciousness, nothingness. The embodiment and refinement of awakening and resting in the fullness of these realizations continues to unfold and evolve living as life itself.

Clare speaks from direct experience of the natural reality of Awakening.

She communicates from Self to Self, embracing human nature with graceful kindness while directly pointing to what is real and true. Clare invites you to rest in the silent stillness of natural Being and discover the wholeness that you are and have always been.

She writes poetry, facilitates Awakening Body – The Yoga of Presence and shares the joyful truth of Being in Satsang meetings and private sessions, classes and retreats.

She lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada. She is available in person, by internet and travels by invitation.


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