In a move to assert their rights in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and to bring attention to gender inequalities, Mormon women put out a call to wear pants to church. We may think of women as having achieved parity in many sectors of American society, but in religious institutions women often find themselves caught in the backdraft of ancient traditions and historical precedents.
In my own Jewish tradition, for example, women have found themselves arrested by Israeli police simply for wearing a prayer shawl (talit) while praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In fact, there is nothing in Jewish law that would prevent women from doing this: it’s simply a custom that men in authority don’t like.
This is another example of religious institutions trailing behind other sectors of society in promoting economic and social progress. In the modern world, organized religion has in fact mostly stood as an impediment to the expansion of freedom and to cultural advancement. In contrast, spiritual thought and practice is much more attuned to the unfolding consciousness that is very gradually bringing humanity to a higher state of awareness and living.
Thanks to these Mormon women for helping humanity move forward just a little bit further.
When I meditate, I look at myself. I watch myself breathe, sit, listen. So who is the one breathing, sitting, listening? Who is the one watching all this? I realize that I am neither the doer nor the watcher. I am the one who contains both the watcher and the doer. I exist somewhere else in another place, in another home, of which all this is but a small part.
We are each so small and so large, so near and so far. No/thing contains us, and we contain all that is. We are right next to ourselves, yet an eternity away. We are bodies and DNA scrolls crossing space and time, conveying new stories as we compose poetry in energy, condensing and scattering, then reformulating ourselves in new patterns and structures, like a living kaleidoscope.
Thinking is a scion of feeling, one of the senses, a metaphorical, symbolic realm filled with the vibrant colors of awareness, the smells of memory, the voices of inspiration, the touch of knowledge, and the light of clarity.
Where do we find shalom? Inside ourselves, then exhaled as life-giving breath for others.
The Source (God) is not something you believe in. The Source is something you experience, People who believe in God attach themselves to an abstraction, a disembodied thought. People who experience God have nothing to explain or justify. The Source simply is. It is not separate from life and creation, but integrated with life and creation.
Being and becoming, two halves of a whole. Most of us search for essence, for permanence, but forget that we only arrive there through movement, through change. We must first learn to still ourselves while moving: to be while becoming.
Louise Bogan, “Night” (1954)
The cold remote islands,
And the blue estuaries
Where what breathes, breathes
The restless wind of the inlets,
And what drinks, drinks
The incoming tide,
Where shell and weed
Wait upon the salt wash of the sea,
And the clear nights of stars
Swing their lights westward
To set behind the land;
Where the pulse clinging to the rocks
Renews itself forever;
Where, again on cloudless nights,
The water reflects
The firmament’s partial setting;
In your narrowing darkhours
That more things move
Than blood in the heart.
Something that is not yet can be–if you embody it.
Instead of using a word for “God,” perhaps we should simply form an out breath–a glottal stop, like the Hebrew letter, “alef.” When you want to say “God,” just speak with an exhalation.
While many (including me) emphasize the religious and spiritual roots of yoga, Tara Stiles takes another approach. She just wants people to do yoga and improve their lives and bodies. She rebels against those teachers who see themselves as gurus. Her goal is to make yoga accessible rather than difficult and total. Deepak Chopra is among her students. I am impressed by her authenticity and determination to simplify this ancient tradition.
There are those moments–moments when you enter a gateway, and you feel the presence of God. I remember Erice in Sicily: eating a meal at a local restaurant, lingering, savoring the garlic, the olive oil and the pasta–and most of all the wine–cold, white, shimmering, crisp–Ambrosia, the best wine I ever tasted, the same for Dianne and for our friend Tony. Was it the wine, the town, the restaurant, or the moment with my wife and our friend? I don’t know, but it felt like heaven: like a dream in which my senses put me deep underwater, gliding effortlessly, with no particular goal, just living fully.
Who are we? Definable bodies? But human bodies are composed mostly of water and space. We are descendants of beings who lived in oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. Our bodies are not solid, but fluid and open. Every day the cells in our bodies are born and die. Every seven years, we are composed of entirely new sets of cells. Why do we fix ourselves into an illusion of isolation and rigidity, as concrete form, frozen images, as if we are separate things? In fact, we are permeable, protean, one composed of many, continually transforming. Made in the image of God, we are no/thing, one through many, colored glass turning in a kaleidoscope, always in flux, movement in form.
Rather than working to breathe, let yourselves be breathed. Then you’re not an I, but a We.
Tapping into the earth’s energy is a lot easier than creating our own.
This article discusses the effect of exercise on brain chemistry (via Nelson French): http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/phys-ed-why-exercise-makes-you-less-anxious/?emc=eta1
When we’re lost in the woods, we can use a compass or follow a stream. When we’re lost in our lives, we can use the intuition of our gut and heart through which our true self and the Source speak.
Who is Adam? An androgynous being created from the earth’s soil. We are all Adam, part of the earth.
This is intriguing and ties in to all sorts of creative, existential, and spiritual questions as well: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/science/23avatar.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a210
Health is not a state of being, but a way of life.
Holding your breath is a way of putting your life on hold.
Feel your heart, its beat, its warmth, your mind’s energy source.
To feel your breath is to feel the life force not only inside you, but inside all that is.
Gen 1:27: The first Adam was both female and male, bi-gendered, whole, integrated, one.
Breathing is a rehearsal for both living and dying.
To live in rhythm is to dance to the beat of the Source. Find your own rhythm; it’s like no one else’s.
Breath + words = creation (Gen 1)
There is life and death in every breath.
We all need to rest, and so does the earth. That’s why we have shabbat and why the earth has a sabbatical year.
Thinking is a part of feeling.
The more you are aware of your body, the more you feel the energy that shapes your greater self.
Full breath means full life.
The Source breathed life into Adam (Gen 2.7). Every time we exhale, we also bring life into others.
Each of our cells contains a universe. We are each a cell in another universe.
Jewish tradition says that every part of our body corresponds to a mitzvah (a commandment). So, when our body is in proper attunement, we will then feel the presence of the Source and act accordingly.
Searching for answers is the heart’s way of leading you back to it.
Each atom contains a universe. Each cell contains millions of atoms. Each person contains millions of cells. We each carry an infinite number of worlds inside ourselves.
There is always a humming sound even in the quietest places: this is the breath of the earth.
Jacob’s ladder:going up-going down; inhaling-exhaling; holding-letting go; receiving-giving; living-dying (Gen 28.12).
Inhale-Exhale: breathe in-breathe out; go down-go up; hold-let go; receive-give; live-die.
Breathing is three-dimensional: depth, height, width. So is life fully lived.
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