CENTER COMMUNITY NEWS
Newsletter of the Center for Sacred Sciences
Vol. 33, No. 2 • Spring 2020
Message from Joel about COVID-19
Dear CSS Members and Friends,
As most of you know, to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19, CSS has closed its doors at 5440 Saratoga Street to all but essential personnel and staff until further notice. During this hiatus, we are using the internet in order to maintain the practitioners groups and sustain other forms of community connection. We will also try to resume regular Sunday meetings online in April sometime, and perhaps establish some kind of online library service. We'll keep you posted about these efforts via email and our web calendar, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, I'd like to remind you that, from a spiritual point of view, every form of adversity is also a precious opportunity for spiritual practice. For one thing, in our present situation, practicing social distancing is an act of harmlessness and compassion. If we are careless about this, we put others at risk. We also get to enhance our practice of mindfulness by being vigilant about simple things like washing our hands, not touching our faces, sanitizing door knobs, etc.
When certain products become scarce, it motivates us "not to waste the resources upon which other beings depend." (I, myself, am becoming a master of efficient toilet paper use!) In addition, most of us will have more time available to engage in formal practices such as spiritual inquiry, meditation, and/or devotional prayer. Instead of feeling stuck at home, we can view this period of seclusion as being on a quasi-retreat.
Finally, the more we are deprived of our habitual routines and distractions, the more we can look at the suffering that arises, identify the attachments that cause it, and surrender them forthwith. Then, as Rumi writes, "At the very moment you become content in affliction, the door of paradise will open."
Stay well, stay connected.
Love and Peace,
"Ineffable Life" by Kaiven Fenton
Help me to express You
There is nothing here to see
Who are You really and
why do You love me
You are me and I AM You
together in this Universe
You love me as I AM
I love You as you are
You are this blade of grass
We are the squirrel too
I am You the spider
We are One we are
Tears of joy are flowing
Together we are clouds
There is no here, there is no there
We are always One right here
Connected by the Essence
of the Love we truly are
sharing light eternal
whether here or near or far
That which rises from within
is That which we call Life
We are That and only That
Can’t be any more than That
We are all of Life
expressing out ourselves
not beginning, never ending
and no one here knows why
You cannot find us in a book
We’re only seen
by those who look
and know that they are we
Being One together with
bees and birds and trees
flowers, leaves, and butterflies
closer than intimacy
Committee to Promote the 4th Precept (Stewardship)
Open your eyes, alert the ears of your spirit, open your lips and apply your heart so that in all creatures you may see, hear, praise, love and worship, glorify and honor your God lest the whole world rise against you. —St. Bonaventure (13th c. Christian)
On November 5, 2019, 11,000 scientists issued a "Climate Emergency Warning," calling on all of humanity to participate in a collective effort to prevent or at least ameliorate an unprecedented environmental catastrophe, caused primarily by global warming. In response, Joel proposed that CSS establish a committee to promote our 4th precept: (Stewardship. Not to waste the resources on which other beings depend) not only as a personal guide for practicing love and compassion, but also as a moral imperative for humanity as a whole. In addition, it should emphasize the mystics' teaching that Nature represents a Divine Self-Disclosure as a form of the Ultimate Formless Reality. Thus, Nature should be regarded as sacred.
Specific activities envisioned for the committee include:
- Research and report on the latest specific actions that scientists recommend we individually and/or collectively take to change our behaviors in environmentally friendly ways.
- Research and report on various charitable and other non-governmental-organizations and their social actions dedicated to protecting the environment.
- Read and review relevant books for the CSS library.
- Encourage people to follow the precept of stewardship and its underlying teaching of seeking spiritual happiness rather than material goods.
"Flavors of Connection" by Nancy Miller
I call in all the energies of the present and past
To witness the depth of my grief.
And they all surround me...
And my old judgements mean nothing
As I see the depths of their own grief
And their compassion for mine.
I feel love and deep caring from each
Until suddenly the lines blur between uncles, fathers, grandmothers,
friends, daughters, boyfriends, husbands, grandchildren, mothers.
All dissolve and are contained in an unending river, no distinctions apparent.
And the Buddha presence declares:
“There is no ego”
“There is no ego”
Such is the depth of my grief
Such is my lesson in freedom.
Merry Song's Writing Workshops
I’ve discovered the sweet joy of offering a service in complete alignment with my calling. That service is the spiritual writing workshops I’ve been presenting to the Center over the past year. The joy I feel arises from my own authenticity in the creative playground while working with practitioners in cultivating awareness on the spiritual path. In our workshops we play with fiction and other types of creative writing, not to become better writers, but to illuminate the call of Awakening.
Each two-hour weekly meeting includes a teaching, a guided writing, and a chance to share. No one is required to share but most choose to. An intimate group grows out of our commitment to maintain confidentiality and refrain from trying to evaluate each other’s writing. Participants also commit to a ten-minute writing each day which starts with a writing prompt.
Every week I hand out folded pieces of paper. I call these “Roll-ups” while others may call them “Roll-downs”. The point is that no one should see the prompt until they are ready to write for that day. I do this because I don’t want writers to THINK about what to write. We bypass the critical mind by unfolding the daily prompt just before the pen hits the page. Sometimes the prompts are stand-alones, but sometimes they connect so that we can observe a transformation. For example, we may start a week with an afflicted emotion such as anger and then daily let it unfold into clarity. Another example would be self doubt transforming into self acceptance.
I joyfully look forward to my next round of spring workshops which will explore such themes as Emerging through Emergency, Fear of Rejection, and Surrender.
Writing offering from Vip Short, participant in Merry Song's “Go As Nothing” group:
I know the way you can get when fear moves into your heart. I know that feeling of constriction and contraction—not the sweet kind that pushes blood or brings forth new life, but that which heralds evasiveness and shrinking from what is before you. I know, it feels involuntary and automatic and reflexive! But you don’t need to go to excuses and explanations ... you don’t need to apologize for some imagined weakness.
Oh, I know the way you can get, when fear comes creeping into your heart like some cat-burglar determined to steal your equanimity. I know the tendency is to shutter all your blinds, kill your lights, hunkering down in a darkness that you believe might save you. When has that strategy ever worked, oh Dear One? Keep your lamps burning, for Goddess’ sake.
Oh, I know the way we all can get when we witness some ill-chosen tyrant take hold of our fragile but functioning societal fabric. That is why Nicolai says:
Lights on for safety! Love outpouring, for sanity. And goodbye, Fear: you were only a stand-in, Love come in disguise, to test the workings of our hearts. You show yourself now, in your own true and beautiful form.
Mission and Programs of the Center for Sacred Sciences
The Center for Sacred Sciences is dedicated to the study, practice, and dissemination of the spiritual teachings of the mystics, saints, and sages of the major religious traditions. The Center endeavors to present these teachings in forms appropriate to our contemporary scientific culture. The Center also works to create and disseminate a sacred worldview which expresses the compatibility between universal mystical truths and the evidence of modern science.
Among the Center’s ongoing events are Sunday public services with meditations and talks given by the Center’s spiritual teachers; monthly Sunday video presentations; and — for committed spiritual seekers — weekly practitioners groups and periodic meditation retreats. The Center is accessible. We are a welcoming and inclusive community.
The Center maintains an extensive lending library of books, audios, videos, and periodicals covering spiritual, psychological, philosophical, and scientific subjects. In addition, the Center provides a website containing a great deal of information and resources related to the teachings of the world’s mystics, the universality of mystical truth, and the relationship between science and mysticism. The Center publishes this newsletter providing community news, upcoming programs, book reviews, and other contributions and resources related to the Center’s mission.
The Center for Sacred Sciences is a non-profit, tax-exempt church based in Eugene, Oregon, USA. We rely chiefly on volunteer staff to support our programs, and on donations to meet our operating expenses. Our spiritual teachers give their teachings freely as a labor of love, and receive no financial compensation from the Center.
About the Center Community News
The Center Community News is published on the CSS website several times a year. Its primary purpose is to help foster a community of spiritual practitioners by sharing original teachings, experiences, reflections, artistic expressions, and reports among members of our community.
To submit your original spiritual reflection, report, poetry or art to the newsletter for publication, please use the newsletter submission form.
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