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Archive for February, 2010

For anyone interested in the life of a Western devotee in India on Spiritual  pilgrimage  this blog is quite interesting. Richard takes many interesting pictures of the wandering Holy Men and Women and life in India.

http://richardarunachala.wordpress.com/

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creating “other”

The egoic sense of self needs conflict because its sense of a seprate identity gets strengthened in fighting against this or that, and in demonstrating that this is “me” and that is not “me.”

Not infrequently, tribes, nations, and religions derive a strengthened sense of collective identity from having enemies. Who would the “believer” be without the “unbeliever?”

Eckhart Tolle – Stillness Speaks

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From:  'The Wisdom of Insecurity' by Alan Watts
"...when you really understand that you are
what you see and know, you do not run around
the country-side thinking, 'I am all this.'
There is simply 'all this.'

"...our experience is altogether momentary.
From one point of view, each moment is so
elusive and so brief that we cannot even
think about it before it has gone. From
another point of view, this moment is always
here, since we know no other moment than the
present moment. It is always dying, always
becoming past more rapidly than imagination
can conceive. Yet at the same time it is
always being born, always new, emerging just
as rapidly from that complete unknown we
call the future. Thinking about it almost
makes you breathless."

"...there is no formula for generating the
authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied.
You cannot talk yourself into it or rouse it
by straining at the emotions or by dedicating
yourself solemnly to the service of mankind.
Everyone has love, but it can only come out
when he is convinced of the impossibility and
the frustration of trying to love himself.
This conviction will not come through
condemnations, through hating oneself, through
calling self-love all the bad names in the
universe. It comes only in the awareness that
one has no self to love."

"We are accustomed to think that, if there
is any freedom at all, it resides, not in
nature, but in the separate human will and
its power of choice.

But what we ordinarily mean by choice is not
freedom. Choices are usually decisions
motivated by pleasure and pain, and the
divided mind acts with the sole purpose
of getting 'I' into pleasure and out of pain.
But the best pleasures are those for which we
do not plan, and the worst part of pain is
expecting it and trying to get away from it
when it has come. You cannot plan to be happy.
You can plan to exist, but in themselves
existence and non-existence are neither
pleasurable nor painful..."

"In the strictest sense, we cannot actually
think about life and reality at all, because
this would have to include thinking about
thinking, thinking about thinking about
thinking, and so *ad infinitum*. One can
only attempt a rational, descriptive philosophy
of the universe on the assumption that one is
totally separate from it. But if you and your
thoughts are part of this universe, you cannot
stand outside them to describe them. This is
why all philosophical and theological systems
must ultimately fall apart. To 'know' reality
you cannot stand outside and define it; you
must enter into it, be it, and feel it.

Speculative philosophy, as we know it in the
West, is almost entirely a symptom of the
divided mind, of man trying to stand outside
himself and his experience in order to verbalize
and define it. It is a vicious circle, like
everything else which the divided mind attempts."

"The common error of ordinary religious
practice is to mistake the symbol for the
reality, to look at the finger pointing
the way and then to suck it for comfort
rather than follow it."

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The Aramaic Prayer of Jesus

Six Possible “Renderings” by Mark Hathaway

These six possible “renderings” of the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer are based on the work of Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz (see “Prayers of the Cosmos” and www.abwoon.com). They are not literal translations, but rather something between a poetic translation and “midrash” based on the ancient roots of the Aramaic words of the prayer. Find out more about each line in the prayer by reading the introductory article here. Please do not reproduce these renderings without:

a)Written permission by the author, Mark Hathaway (contact here), and

b)an explicit aknowledgement of the work of Mark Hathaway and Neil Douglas-Klotz and a link to their respective websites (www.visioncraft.org and www.abwoon.com).

§ 1

O Divine Womb,

birthing forth the river of blessing which runs through all,

Soften the ground of our being,

and hallow in us a space for the planting of thy presence.

In our depths,

sow thy seed with its greening-power

that we might be midwives to thy Reign.

Then, let each of our actions

bear fruit in accordance with thy desire.

Impart to us the wisdom to bring forth the gifts of the earth

and share them daily according to the needs of each being,

And restore that which has been usurped

by injustice to its rightful owners,

as we restore to others that which is not our own.

Do not let us be seduced

by that which would divert us from our purpose,

but make us sensitive to the moment at hand.

For from thy fertile soil is born the creativity,

the life-energy, and the dance,

from birthing to birthing. Ameyn.

* * * * * * * * *

§ 2

O Source of the Wave,

which envelops and embraces the cosmos,

sustaining and renewing it at each moment,

Penetrate the deepest recesses of our hearts,

and there create a space for thy holy shrine.

In this nuptial chamber,

conceive the creative potency of thy Reign,

So that we may give birth to the embodiment of thy desire:

as from the emanation, so too in form.

With passion and soul let us generate

that which is needed to sustain life this day.

Release us from the bondage of our karma,

as we free others from the captivity of their guilt.

And do not let superficiality cause us to vacillate,

but rather free us from all that impedes growth.

For from thee bursts forth all that

dignifies, gives life, and astonishes,

from cycle to cycle, restoring wholeness. Ameyn.

* * * * * * * * *

§ 3

O creative Breath,

ebbing and flowing through all forms,

Free us from all constrictions,

so that the current of thy life

may move in us without hinderance.

Empower us with thy creativity,

and clothe us with royal dignity,

So that,fully at one with the vortex of thy desire,

sacred actions pour forth from us

with each breath we release.

Renew in us this day

our lifebreath, vigour, and passion,

And untie the tangled threads of destiny which bind us,

as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.

Do not let us lose ourselves in distraction,

but by the way of the breath,

lead us into mindfulness.

For from thy depths pour forth

the Way, the Life, and the Splendour,

from age to age, it is so. Ameyn.

* * * * * * * * *

§ 4

O Source of the Radiance,

dancing in and about all-that-is,

Shine forth into the depths of our beings,

and enkindle there the flame of thy essence.

Grant that it may blaze forth

and fill us with its searing creativity,

Until, fully united with thy fiery desire,

light pours out from us, taking form.

May we be revitalised each day

with nourishment for body and spirit,

And be liberated from all that oppresses us,

as we struggle to mend the fabric of our world.

Let us not be enmeshed in the nets of illusion,

but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.

For from thee shine forth

the precepts, the sustenance, and the generative fire,

from centring to centring. Ameyn.

* * * * * * * * *

§ 5

O Silent Sound,

whose shimmering music pulsates

at the heart of each and all,

Clear a space in us where thy melody

may be perceived in its purity.

Let the rhythm of thy counsel reverberate through our lives,

so that we move to the beat of justice, love, and peace.

Then, our whole being at one with thy song,

grant that the Earth may be filled

with the beauty of thy voice.

Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share

what each being needs to grow and flourish,

And give us courage to embrace our shadow with emptiness,

as we embrace others in their darkness.

But let us not be captive to uncertainty,

nor cling to fruitless pursuits.

For from thee springs forth

the rhythm, the melody, and the harmony,

which restores all to balance, again and again. Ameyn.

* * * * * * * * *

§ 6

O Parent of the Universe,

manifesting thyself as generative energy,

Bend over us and remove all that clutters our being

and set apart a place where thy sacredness may dwell.

Fill us with thy creativity,

so that we may be empowered to bear

the fruit of thy vision.

Then, moving to the heartbeat of thy desire,

make us the embodiment of thy compassion.

Drawing from the ground of our humanity

grant that we may renew each other

with love, understanding, and sustenance.

Empty us of frustrated hopes and despair,

as we restore others to a renewal of vision.

And let us not fall into agitation,

but save us from precipitous actions.

For thou art the ground

of the fruitful vision, the birthing-power, and the fulfilment,

as all is gathered and made whole once again. Ameyn.

* * * * * * * * *

Mark Hathaway is an author, web designer, and freelance “ecologian” studying the inter-relationships between ecology, economics, spirituality, and cosmology.

Those interested in learning more about the Aramaic version of Jesus’ sayings should read Prayers of the Cosmos by Neil Douglas-Klotz (Harper and Row, 1990).

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This is beautiful!

Abwoon d’bwashmaya

O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos/ you create all that moves in light.

Nethqadash shmakh

Focus your light within us–make it useful:  as the rays of a beacon show the way.

Teytey malkuthakh

Create your reign of unity now–through our firey hearts and  willing hands.

Nehwey sebyanach aykanna d’bwashmaya aph b’arha.

Your one desire then acts with ours, as in all light, so in all forms.

Habwlan lachma d’sunqanan yaomana.

Grant what we need each day in bread and insight:

subsistence for the call of growing life.

Washboqlan khaubayn (wakhtahayn)

aykana daph khnan shbwoqan l’khayyabayn.

Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,

as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.

Wela tahlan l’nesyuna

Don’t let us enter forgetfulness

Ela patzan min bisha.

But free us from unripeness

Metol dilakhie malkutha wahayla wateshbukhta l’ahlam almin.

From you is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do,

the song that beautifies all, from age to age it renews.

Ameyn.

Truly–power to these statements–

may they be the source from which all  my actions grow.

Sealed in trust & faith.  Amen.

For an inspirational flash show where you can read and hear the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer translation by Neil Douglas-Klotz click here.

This flash show was created by SelfHealingExpressions.com. There you can purchase an online meditation course on the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer.

What if…

All Christians and devotees of Jesus, and his example of selfless service, would learn to say the words of his prayer (“The Lord’s Prayer”) in his native Aramaic Language?

All Christians and devotees of Jesus would then have one prayer, one practice, that they could share together, without any language or doctrinal differences. Today, we cannot even share the practice called “communion” (or eucharist) together because of these diffferences.

What difference would it make for Christians to unite in one prayer, acknowledging at the same time what all theologians, scholars and historians know: Jesus-Yeshua was a native Middle Eastern person and spoke Aramaic, a language related to both ancient Hebrew and classical Arabic, the languges of the Jewish and Islamic traditions?

Eastern (Aramaic-speaking) Christians today (Assyrians, Arameans, Syrian Orthodox, Church of the East) do not agree about the exact pronunciation of these words, but in fact the actual differences between their pronuniciations are very slight. A person of any language or background who learns a basic pronunciation of the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer could easily understand any others and join in praying the prayer with them.

The Abwoon Study Circle promotes this vision:

• The pronunciation of the Aramaic Prayer of Jesus, in a dialect that combines both of the major current Aramaic pronunciations with a “tablespoon” of the ancient Hebrew intonation that Yeshua may have used, is now available online. The sound files in mp3 format can be downloaded, allowing one to learn the prayer at home. The links are below.


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The Lord’s Prayer

This discussion started with Nancy on Open Your Eyes And Love Them. . .

http://saradode.wordpress.com/

I found this beautiful translation of the Lords Prayer on another website:

The Aramaic Prayer of Jesus

An Introduction by Mark Hathaway

This article has been adapted from an earlier version first published in Scarboro Missions magazine. For more information on the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer, please refer to the work of Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz at www.abwoon.com You may also read several possible “renderings” of the Aramaic prayer written by Mark Hathaway, based on his studies with Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz, by going here.

To truly enter another culture means trying to understand the way people think and how they view the world. It also means letting go of some of our own established ways of seeing and conceiving.

To a large extent, culture is embodied in language. When we think, we normally frame our thoughts in words. Each language has its own unique way of doing this which affects how we see things. So, learning a new language is in some sense learning a new way of perceiving reality. That’s one reason it can be so difficult, and so different from other forms of learning..

Jesus himself lived in a culture very different from our own, and to some extent that is revealed in the language he spoke; Aramaic (sometimes also referred to as Syriac) is a Semitic tongue closely related to both Hebrew and Arabic. It is still spoken today in a few isolated parts of Iraq and Syria, although it is gradually disappearing. It is also used as a liturgical language in several Eastern-rite Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

In some sense, by entering into the Aramaic language, we look through the lens that Jesus himself used to perceive reality. As the tongue of peoples who worked the land, it employs imagery close to the earth and all growing things. It is also a language allowing for multiple possibilities to be present at the same time.. For these reasons, some have observed that it is much closer to the languages of aboriginal peoples than to those of modern western cultures. Indeed, it might help us to understand Jesus better to think of him as a native Middle-Eastern person.

Unfortunately, most of us (myself included) do not speak Aramaic; probably, we have never even heard it spoken. A few words of it do appear in our translations of the New Testament (for instance, talitha kum in Mark 5:41 and maran atha in 1 Cor. 16:22). More importantly, though, Aramaic texts of Jesus’ words have been preserved by the Eastern churches. While scripture scholars usually maintain that the New Testament was written first in Greek, there are good reasons to believe that the Aramaic text (known as the Peshitta) may more accurately reflect the words which Jesus himself spoke. This is especially true in the case of the prayer we call the “Our Father”, which was no doubt prayed by Aramaic-speaking Christians on a regular basis and preserved carefully in oral tradition until the time the written text emerged..

The prayer which Jesus himself taught us is at the heart of our spirituality. By reflecting on the text in Aramaic, many possible meanings come to light. The common translation we use is limited simply because it is but one of many possibilities. In Aramaic, each word can evoke an entire family of images and nuances. The following reflections on each phraseof the prayer, then, meditate on some of the more subtle dimensions present in Aramaic.

* * * * * * * * *

Abwoon d’bwashmaya (“Our Father who art in heaven”) elicits the image of creation, of giving birth to the universe. Abwoon can indeed be translated as “father”, but it can equally be rendered as the word for parenting (in either a physical or spiritual sense). At another level, it presents the image of the divine breath (spirit) flowing out of oneness, creating the whole diversity of forms.D’bwashmaya conjures the images of light, sound, and vibration spreading out and pervading all. In essence, then, “heaven” is conceived not so much as a place as a dimension of reality that is present everywhere.

Some possible renditions of this phrase in its totality would be: “O Source of the Radiance, dancing in and about all-that-is” or “O creative breath, ebbing and flowing through all forms.” Again, these are just examples of the many possibilities that exist simultaneously in the original text (which includes as well the translation we normally pray). Still, they challenge us to be open to new ways of conceiving of both God and heaven.

Nethqadash shmakh (“Hallowed be thy name”) presents the image of someone bending over to clear a space where the sacred may dwell. Shmakh is derived from the same root as the Aramaic word for heaven; it means both name and the concrete manifestation of creative energy. The phrase in its entirety could be: “Soften the ground of our being, and hallow a space for the planting of your presence” or “Free us from all constrictions, so that the current of your life may move in us without hindrance.” We are invited here to let go of all which keeps God from entering our lives, to sweep clean the chamber of our heart. Jesus’ symbolic clearing of the temple resonates strongly with this image. To what extent do we have a marketplace in our own beings? What clutters the space where God desires to dwell within us?

Making room for the sacred prepares us for the next step: Teytey malkuthakh (“Thy kingdom come”). Malkuthakh is a very rich word, and one central to Jesus’ message. While normally translated as “kingdom”, its roots are actually feminine (so “queendom” might be more accurate!). It conveys the idea of guiding principles, of that which empowers us to go forward in the face of all difficulties, and of a creative potential ready to be realised. To me, it evokes the image of the fragile blade of grass that slowly breaks apart the hardest of concrete. Teytey implies a certain urgency in the coming, or a vision waiting to be fulfilled. The image is that of a nuptial chamber, a place of new beginnings. The phrase could be rendered, then, as “Fill us with thy creativity, so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your vision” or “In our depths, sow your seed with its greening-power, so that we might be midwives to thy Reign.” This part of the prayer calls us to walk through life with a royal dignity, ready to face difficulties with creativity and hope.

Nehwey tzevyanach aykanna d’bwashmaya aph b’arha (“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”) can be considered the heart of Jesus’ prayer. The “will” referred to here connotes a deep desire causing one’s whole being to move toward a goal with the certainty that the effort will bear fruit. In some sense, it is living as though God’s vision were already a reality. “Earth” (arha) carries a strong feeling of solidity and support; it is something that is fully materialised. Here, then, we pray that the sense of “I can” expressed in the line above be put fully into action. The phrase in its entirety could be: “Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with your desire.” or “Moving to the heartbeat of your purpose, make us the embodiment of your compassion.” In essence, we pray that all we do be an act of co-creation with God.

Hawvlan lachma d’sunqanan yaomana (“Give us this day our daily bread”) asks, not only for bread in the physical sense, but also for all that we need to truly thrive. In Aramaic, the word for “bread” (lachma) is directly related to the word for “wisdom” (hochma). We ask that it be given, but also that it be brought forth from the very depths of our own selves. In sum, we pray: “Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish” or “With passion and soul, let us generate from within that which is needed to sustain life this day.”

Washboqlan khaubayn (wakhta­hayn) aykanna daph khnan shbwoqan l’khayyabayn (“And forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are in debt to us”) conveys the idea of untying the knots of past mistakes. To forgive is to return things to their state of original freedom. This is something well described in the Old Testament in terms of the Jubilee year where all is returned to its original owners. We are called in this line to let go of all that holds us back from the fulfilment of God’s desire: our failures, our despair, our frustrations. A good translation might be: “Untie the tangled threads of destiny which bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes” or even “Empty us of frustrated hopes and desires, as we restore others to a renewal of vision.” Certainly this part of the prayer calls us as well to forgive debts in the economic sense. As a missioner, though, I especially like the idea of letting go of frustrations and restoring a sense of vision. In a world where change sometimes seems impossible, we are challenged to constantly renew our hope and to animate those who have fallen into despair.

In the line Wela tahlan l’nesyuna, ela patzan min bisha (“And do not put us to the test, but deliver us from evil”), we pray that we not let ourselves be distracted from the true purpose of our lives by that which is essentially trivial; we ask that we not be seduced by superficiality and materialism.

In Aramaic, “evil” (bisha) is conceived in terms of an action which is unripe, of a fruit that is either immature or rotten. This calls us to be sensitive to the moment at hand, to carry out the right action at the right time. Hence, we pray: “But let us not be captive to uncertainty, nor cling to fruitless pursuits” or “Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.”

The final line recapitulates the whole prayer: Metol dilakhie malkutha wahayla wateshbukhta l’ahlam almin, ameyn (“For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever, amen.”) The word translated as “power” (hayla) is the energy that gives and sustains all life. “Glory” (teshbukhta) evokes the image of things returned to a state of harmony and equilibrium. The phrase could be rendered as: “For you are the ground of the fruitful vision, the birthing-power, and the fulfilment, as all is gathered and made whole once again.”

Meditating on the Aramaic version of Jesus’ prayer can be very challenging, precisely because it calls us to re-examine and re-think our spirituality. The images evoked call us to a very down-to-earth life of prayer. They also touch us at a profound level, stimulating us to live more simply, more authentically, and more justly. Yet, the prayer also recognises that conversion is a continuing process, something that must be entered into on a daily basis. During this Lenten season, perhaps we can endeavour to deepen this process in special way.

* * * * * * * * *

Mark Hathaway is an author, web designer, and freelance “ecologian” studying the inter-relationships between ecology, economics, spirituality, and cosmology.

Those interested in learning more about the Aramaic version of Jesus’ sayings should read Prayers of the Cosmos by Neil Douglas-Klotz (Harper and Row, 1990).

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The Fertile Soil of Sangha

Thich Nhat Hanh on the importance of community.
By Thich Nhat Hanh

TWO THOUSAND five hundred years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha proclaimed that the next Buddha will be named Maitreya, the “Buddha of Love.” I think Maitreya Buddha may be a community and not just an individual. A good community is needed to help us resist the unwholesome ways of our time. Mindful living protects us and helps us go in the direction of peace. With the support of friends in the practice, peace has a chance.

If you have a supportive sangha, it’s easy to nourish your bodhicitta, the seeds of enlightenment. If you don’t have anyone who understands you, who encourages you in the practice of the living dharma, your desire to practice may wither. Your sangha—family, friends, and copractitioners—is the soil, and you are the seed. No matter how vigorous the seed is, if the soil does not provide nourishment, your seed will die. A good sangha is crucial for the practice. Please find a good sangha or help create one.

Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are three precious jewels in Buddhism, and the most important of these is Sangha. The Sangha contains the Buddha and the Dharma. A good teacher is important, but sisters and brothers in the practice are the main ingredient for success. You cannot achieve enlightenment by locking yourself in your room. Transformation is possible only when you are in touch. When you touch the ground, you can feel the stability of the earth and feel confident. When you observe the steadiness of the sunshine, the air, and the trees, you know that you can count on the sun to rise each day and the air and the trees to be there. When you build a house, you build it on solid ground. You need to choose friends in the practice who are stable, on whom you can rely.

Taking refuge in the sangha means putting your trust in a community of solid members who practice mindfulness together. You do not have to practice intensively—just being in a sangha where people are happy, living deeply the moments of their days, is enough. Each person’s way of sitting, walking, eating, working, and smiling is a source of inspiration; and transformation takes place without effort. If someone who is troubled is placed in a good sangha, just being there is enough to bring about a transformation. I hope communities of practice in the West will organize themselves as families. In Asian sanghas, we address each other as Dharma Brother, Dharma Sister, Dharma Aunt, or Dharma Uncle, and we call our teacher Dharma Father or Dharma Mother. A practice community needs that kind of familial brotherhood to nourish practice.

If you have a sangha that is joyful, animated by the desire to practice and help, you will mature as a bodhisattva. I always tell the monks, nuns, and lay practitioners at Plum Village that if they want to succeed in the practice, they have to find ways to live in harmony with one another, even with those who are difficult. If they can’t succeed in the sangha, how can they succeed outside of it? Becoming a monk or a nun is not just between student and teacher. It involves everyone. Getting a “yes” from everyone in the sangha is a true dharma seal.

From Cultivating the Mind of Love, © 2008 by Thich Nhat Hanh. Reprinted with permission of Parallax Press, parallax.org.

(today’s Tricycle’s Daily Dharma)

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