CENTER COMMUNITY NEWS
Newsletter of the Center for Sacred Sciences
Vol. 34, No. 1 • Winter 2021
Center Building - Free and Clear!
In October, 2020, CSS received a significant gift that has allowed us to close the building fund and pay off our loan. The donor of this gift ($300,000) wishes to remain anonymous, as most of our donors do. But I can share with you a few things: They have been connected to the CSS community for some years and have a good grasp of what we’re about and offer. They also shared that this donation was made possible by an unexpected windfall that exceeds what they personally needed or planned for, and so they wanted to make this gift to CSS because they recognize the great spiritual value that the Center provides to so many people.
On behalf of the board and CSS community, I want to thank the CSS community. Thank you to everyone who has given time, energy, and funds, from a box of tea, to substantial gifts, to the donor of this amazing gift. It’s all beyond words. While CSS still relies on donations for operations, this new financial freedom allows us to focus even more on our mission.
Light of Love Talk and Celebration
According to tradition, Joel delivered an annual Light of Love Day talk in December on the topic of Love.
Cindy and Aruna Beth provided live music before and after Joel's talk.
In a related event the week before Joel's Light of Love Day talk, the CSS community gathered for an online celebration, organized by CSS Events Coordinator Hiromi Sieradski.
The celebration program was a rich tapestry of creative sharing by many people.
It included poetry recitations by Merry Song, Jed Hazen, and Melissa Kaspar.
Cindy Zarzycki sang two songs for us: “May the Longtime Sun Shine upon you” and “Love, Serve and Remember.”
During the celebration, Joel gave a short talk about a grace before meals, which reads as follows:
Remembering that sacrifice is the law of this world
I give thanks to these plants and animals
who have sacrificed their own lives that I might live.
In return, I vow to sacrifice myself,
surrendering my heart to love,
my mind to truth,
and my body to service,
so that all might awaken to the Real World
and the Eternal Life of Consciousness, Itself.
Niraja displayed images of her stunning quilts, including one entitled “Edge of Chaos.”
Susan Stumpf shared stories and images of her crochet blanket and other items made with love.
The celebration was concluded with a musical offering by Aruna Beth and a toast by Joel.
Coming Out of Hiding, by Laura Betty
Coming out of Hiding!
"Coming out of Hiding," to me, is to come out from my projected self-image. To pay attention to the stuff that I am saying to myself, whether it is good or bad.
For me, this means to look at the scary stuff straight on, to feel the fear and to trust that the Universe will provide whatever appropriate action. And the results so far have been a surprise.
Coming out of hiding certainly can have many meanings. For me, now, it is facing my fears and emotions. Like many people, my fears and emotions feed my head. My stories, the Story of I, the self-image of who I think I am: all this basically dictates my behavior, especially when I am under emotional distress.
I am a student in progress. There are two approaches that I have experienced that helped me to come out of my "hiding."
The first one was at a moment of noticing the negative thought/stories that were streaming during a heated emotional outburst. Somehow our meditation practices bubbled into my consciousness and in that space, my attention was able to turn around and focus on the other person. The whole emotional picture changed, and there was no "Laura" — just feeling the other person with tenderness.
The second approach was from the class that Mora taught on Untangling Emotions. We used some of the work by Shinzen Young, Science of Enlightenment. We explored bodily sensations. I usually by-pass the actual feeling in my body when strong emotions occur. I am usually in my head-space, not in my body-space. And even if I feel the emotion in my body, it was never the focus of my attention. The story (maintaining my self-image/the Story of I) was the focus.
Mora also introduced us to the work of Loch Kelly: Shift into Freedom. We were invited to drop into our heart space and talk to our troubling emotion.
We used four sentences and it can apply to any emotion. I am going to use fear.
I am (fear).
I feel (fear).
I am aware of (fear).
I Welcome (fear).
So I had this dream of total fear. I woke up in a panic. I fell asleep again and the same thing happened. I woke up in a total panic. This time though, I told myself to face my fears. Then went back to sleep. The same fear occurred, but this time when I felt the fear I said: I am afraid. I feel fear. I am aware of fear and I welcome fear.
And the fear left.
I woke up in the morning remembering what had happened. I have no idea what I was afraid of while dreaming.
So I feel like I have a couple of reliable tools in my toolbox. My coming out of hiding is to learn the clues and using the these methods to see where I am hiding behind my self-image. When my mind starts a stream of negative thoughts, the most important thing for me is to first notice it! Let those thoughts liberate! Experience the spaciousness and see what happens. So far, the shift has taken the focus of attention off myself, and onto others. And when overcome by a strong emotion, I am learning to notice it, feel it and welcome it!
The shift out of my head-space has been a concern for others and a peaceful space.
3 Jan 2021
Library CornerThe Center maintains a lending library containing thousands of books, audio CDs, video DVDs, magazines, and journals for patrons to explore the classical teachings of the mystics from all the world's religious traditions. Here we feature reviews of a few items in the collection. See the Library Blog for quotes, reviews and new additions to the library.
Self Realization in Kashmir Shaivism: The Oral Teachings of Swami Lakshmanjoo
By John Hughes
“When there is nothing there is no problem. When there is only yourself then there is a problem. When there is only the other person then there is a problem. But when you come to know that you are universal then there is no problem. This is why meditation has been expounded in Shaivism, in order for you to realize the reality of God Consciousness.” (p. 28)
The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice
By Cynthia Bourgeault
"Rather than engaging the powers of focused attention (on the breath, a mantra), [centering prayer] seems to be more interested in cultivating two qualities that essentially involve the release of attention. The first has been extensively described in the Orthodox branch of Christianity under the name of “attention of the heart”. The second has never been specifically identified in the Christian tradition at all, although it has been accurately and even comprehensively described. A Tibetan Buddhist would have no difficulty spotting it as objectless awareness." (p. 2)
Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda
By Shri Atmananda, notes by Nita Tripta
"Question: What is the right approach to the solution of any spiritual question? Shri Atmananda: The answer can never be found in the same plane as the question itself. When you look from the next higher plane, the question as such disappears altogether. The mind is incapable of explaining itself in its own plane. So, in order to explain it, you must rise to the background - the plane of Consciousness. Looking from there, you see the mind with all its doubts and difficulties transformed into Consciousness; and nothing ever remains over which needs to be explained." (p. 29)
Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators
By Guy Armstrong
"Abiding in emptiness, we see clearly what disturbs our meditation. It is the movement of our own heart and mind, born from greed, aversion, and delusion. Giving no attention to signs offers us a way to rest, find peace, and practice renunciation, and it also provides an excellent base for insight. We can see which actions lead to suffering and which ones lead to peace and happiness. It is this understanding that trains and finally frees the heart." (p. 154)
Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Mandala of the Empowered Feminine
By Lama Tsultrim Allione
"We are slowly awakening to the crisis of the earth and the effect of the loss of the sacred feminine, but few people understand that the causes of the crisis have spiritual values at their roots - values of the sacred as immanent, imbued in all of life, and all life as interdependent. . . It is by empowering the sacred feminine and by listening to the earth as she tries to communicate with us that we will ultimately heal." (pp. 6-7)
Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community
By Larry Yang
"The Buddha’s path is not a spiritual practice that encourages practitioners to go into a cave and escape the world, somehow becoming enlightened by the separation from others. Rather, the Buddha is inviting us into a practice of awakening using the full energies of our ever-evolving collective experience—of community. This is awakening together." (pp. 48-49)
Beauty and Light: Mystical Discourses of a Contemporary Female Sufi Master
By Cemalnur Sargut
To abandon existence is to abandon your boastful existence. This is the hardest part; to stop saying “I” all the time, an oft-repeated exercise when we explain our actions and supposed accomplishments. But the real question is, “What do we really achieve on our own?” We are mere faucets. If God does not turn on the faucet, what words can ever flow from us? . . . What power do we really have? . . . That is why abandoning existence is a high station. . . . After you abandon all of these, there is nothing left to abandon. Everywhere becomes God. Then a person abandons abandonment. That is to say, he starts to see God in everything . . . Everything you do will carry meaning and affect others . . . This is the station of journeying with God, being with God in everything, in unity. It is being one with, or together with, God.
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 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 also publishes this newsletter.
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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