Spirits Calling

sun-through-trees

Upon leaving the gym today I was compelled to stop by a small grove of trees. As I looked up into the branches with flashes of the sun passing through on the breeze, I felt so much love. Love for the beautiful trees and love from the trees.

I felt a presence welcoming me to a meditation. It was a remarkably sublime feeling of calm, contentment, and fulfillment. It was a wonderful moment that I did not want to end.

I have walked past those trees hundreds of times without noticing them. But this day I heard them call to me and say, “Come stay a while and let us commune with God and feel His love.”

You might also like to see the following related articles:

Spirit’s Answer to My Prayer

The Golden Morning

Sentinels of Peace

 

The Battle Against Evil

Michael Defeating the Fallen Angels By Luca Giordano – 1660-1665, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1855147

Michael Defeating the Fallen Angels
By Luca Giordano – 1660-1665, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1855147

The world today seems to be in the firm grip of evil. The advent of terrorism is perhaps the most outstanding indicator of this but the widespread badness, selfishness, greed, and lack of compassion among society are other important bellwethers. Understandably, the majority of people feel powerless against many of the evil forces.

The prayer below is a call for help and protection that is very salient to current circumstances. I urge everyone to say this prayer (or your own version of it) as part of your daily devotions.

Prayer for Delivery from Evil
(based in part on the Prayer to St. Michael)

Heavenly Father,

I wish to call upon the Heavenly Hosts to defend us and fight with us in our battle against evil.

I ask that they be our protection against all evil spirits and evil doers in this world.

Send the Heavenly Hosts, I humbly pray
by your power, to thrust Satan into hell along with all evil spirits
who wander through the world for the ruin and confusion of souls
and keep them there so as to remove their negative influences on the people of the world.

And so that the darkness that they created will dissipate
Revealing your wonderful sacred light
That can then, once again, shine upon all of humanity
Drawing all of humanity closer to you.

Lord hear my prayer!

You might like to also see the following related articles:

A Letter to God

Spiritual Lawlessness

A Path from Darkness

Path Out of Darkness

Path from Darkness

…and Spirit told me: Do not be consumed with fear and regret for past sins. Neither should your transgressions be dismissed nor forgotten. Repent, but recognize them as lessons to be learned and do not repeat them. Use them to move forward and fuel your resolve to rise to higher levels of spiritual understanding and virtue.

You might like to see the following related articles:

Spirit’s Answer to My Prayer

How is My Divine Self Revealed?

What is Spiritual Awareness?

So You Say You Are Spiritual…

Destination Ahead Copyright 2016 by Blair Atherton

Destination Ahead
Copyright 2016 by Blair Atherton

If you have chosen to move away from organized religion or you were not brought up in a home where religion was a part of life, you are not a spiritual person simply by default. When asked about your religious affiliation, replying that you are “spiritual” does not make it so. Neither does thinking of yourself as such.

In order to truly be spiritual, a few things are needed from you. First, you need to be aware that you have a spirit; that your spirit is what gives you life. It is behind your life force and it can guide and influence your thoughts and actions if you let it.

Having made this realization, then one is usually compelled to explore and understand the fundamental nature of spirituality. This is essential because being spiritual is a way of living and a way of viewing the universe, the world, our place in them, and the meaning of life. Spirituality can arise and thrive within or without structured religion.

Once you come to truly understand that you are a spiritual being, everything changes. One of the changes is that you move away from the material aspects of life to the nonmaterial qualities of existence. Your focus shifts away from things and self-serving behaviors and thoughts to unselfish concern for the wellbeing of all living things. This is a major paradigm shift in world view for most people, especially in the years leading up to midlife.

Once one acknowledges the presence of their spirit-self, the journey to discover what it means to be spiritual and to live the life of spirit begins. My hope and prayer is that it will come early in life for as many as possible so that the joy, happiness, and fulfillment it brings can be enjoyed for many years ahead.

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What is spiritual awareness?

I am Spirit

With Spirit Eyes I See

The Spiritual Mind

 

How is My Divine Self Revealed?

With permission. Copyright 2012 by www.phatpuppyart.com

With permission. Copyright 2012 by http://www.phatpuppyart.com

If I am a child of God, then what is the essence of my divine nature? How is my divine self revealed?

I believe that the divine self is manifested by the spirit and that love and compassion are spiritual attributes. Therefore, one way in which we reveal our divinity is by expression of love and compassion for all things.

Compassion is not an attribute exclusive to people of religious faith. In fact, it did not originate in religion; rather, it is an aspect of our in-born divine nature. It is an attribute of humanity. Everyone has it, but we often get lost from time to time on our life path and stray from our inherent loving and generous nature. What is important is that we recognize that the spiritual gifts of love and compassion are at the core of our being; that when we express these qualities, we are revealing our divinity to ourselves and to those whose lives we touch.

Nothing is more rewarding or more important in life than sharing these spiritual gifts with others. What is important in the pursuit of meaning in our lives is that we all aspire and strive to express our divinity in various ways on a daily basis. It is through these actions that our divine self is revealed.

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Buddhism – Spirituality for Everyone Part 2

Path to Enlightenment Photo credit sathyasaibaba.wordpress.com

Path to Enlightenment
Photo credit sathyasaibaba.wordpress.com

In my first article on Buddhism, we examined the Four Immeasurable Minds. These may be best described as highly elevated spiritual states of mind or ways of being. The Noble Eightfold Path discussed here can be thought of as a practical guide for living a noble and virtuous life.

The two are interrelated and interactive. Progress toward one fosters progress in the other. When both are present in an individual, the person is not only truly enlightened, but they serve as a role model for those wishing to achieve the highest levels of spirituality.

Some may worry that the Four Immeasurables may be too much of a paradigm shift to achieve or consistently sustain in a world culture that seems to be diametrically opposed to them. Such a shift in one’s state of mind is indeed challenging, but it is a goal well worth pursuing.

The Noble Eightfold Path gives us practical goals for how we should strive to live our everyday lives in a manner that leads to spiritual awakening and liberation from a mind-set of greed, hatred, violence, duplicity, and self-aggrandizement. It is a path that can transform us spiritually and prepare us for progression to the divine state of the Four Immeasurable Minds.

The Noble Eightfold Path

The word “right” in this context means “in the right and most beneficial or positive way.”

1. Right View or Understanding.

Right view is seeing and understanding things clearly as they truly are. It is also the ability to distinguish between thoughts and actions that are wholesome or unwholesome. Right view requires a flexible, open mind. It leads to an understanding of the law of cause and effect or moral law of karma; namely, that any action will produce results or effects that have the same nature as the action.

2. Right Thinking, Thought, or Intention.

We need to free our minds from bias, prejudice, wrong perceptions, making assumptions, and judging. Through right thought one makes an effort to rid one’s self from what they know to be wrong or immoral. In so doing, we are making a commitment to follow a spiritual path. Right thinking leads to right speech and right action.

3. Right Speech.

Do not lie, bear false witness, use harsh, hateful, or divisive language, gossip, be rude, engage in useless chatter, etc. Always speak truthfully and lovingly in a manner that brings joy, hope, and understanding to others. Our speech should be guided by right view and right thinking.

4. Right Action or Conduct.

Engage in moral, ethical, honorable, and peaceful action. Practice nonviolence and be committed to protecting all life on earth.

5. Right Livelihood.

Choose a profession that is honorable, ethical, and helps and sustains living things rather than one that supports war, killing, disharmony, or harms, cheats, or exploits them. Five types of livelihoods to be avoided are specifically mentioned:

Trade in any kind of weapons.
Any form of trade in human beings.
Breeding and selling of animals for slaughter.
Manufacture or sale of addictive drugs or intoxicating drinks.
Production or trade of any kind of toxic substance or poison designed to harm living things.

6. Right Effort or Diligence. (Paraphrased from Rahula referenced below)

Right diligence is a concerted effort (1) to prevent evil and unwholesome states of mind from arising, (2) to rid one’s self from such thoughts that have already arisen (3) to produce good and wholesome states of mind that have not yet arisen, and (4) to develop and bring to perfection the good and wholesome states of mind already present.

7. Right Mindfulness.

Right mindfulness is being diligently aware of activities of the body, our sensations and feelings, and our thoughts (and their nature). It is being mindful of and living in the present moment free from all thoughts or concern about the past or the future. In mindfulness we refrain from judgement or interpretation of what we are experiencing in the moment. When we are mindful, right thinking, right speech, right action, etc. will be expressed.

8. Right Concentration.

Buddha said that when we have a singleness of mind supported by the other seven factors of the Noble Eightfold Path we have achieved right concentration. It is an essential component of effective meditation.

Right concentration is described as a one-pointed mind. That is, the ability to focus or concentrate on one thing. Right concentration encompasses and is facilitated and supported by the other seven elements of the Noble Path. The practice of right concentration allows us to cultivate insight and develop wisdom by examination of the true nature of things through meditation.

It is by striving to follow the Noble Eightfold Path in our everyday life that we develop the basic principles of ethical conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom which are central to Buddhist practice. Buddha gave many discourses on each element of the Path to explain their meaning in great depth. Consequently, my brief explanations are sorely incomplete and do not give a full appreciation of the scope and quality of each element of the Path.

While many components of the Eightfold Path are things for which most people seeking a spiritual way of life would strive, the Path codifies a stepwise process to achieve them. The Noble Eightfold Path encompasses universal elements of a spiritual way of life. Many of them resonate with the teachings of Christianity and other religions.

I would place persons who engage in spiritual practices and thought akin to those of Buddhists among the exalted meek who are said to one day inherit the earth. In a world seemingly filled with murky shadows and darkness, they are a beacon of light and hope.

References

Hanh, Thich Nhat, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation. New York: Harmony Books. 2010. First published 1999.

Rahula, Walpola. What the Buddha Taught. 2nd ed. enlarg. New York: Grove Press. 1974. First published 1959.

You might like to see the following related articles:

Buddhism – Spirituality for Everyone Part 1

The Law of Cause and Effect

Buddhism – Spirituality for Everyone Part 1

    Immeasurable Photo credit: sathyasaibaba.wordpress.comImmeasurable
    Photo credit: sathyasaibaba.wordpress.com

I have been curious about Buddhism ever since years ago reading Siddhartha, the story of the life of Buddha. As a spiritual practice, Buddhism seemed somewhat mysterious, esoteric, and complex. All this talk about oneness, meditation, and remaining unattached perplexed and confused me. At the same time, there was something about it that was very intriguing.

Now having done some reading about the teachings of Buddhism I would like to share with you what I took away as some of its central teachings that have informed my quest for a deeper and expanded understanding of how to live a spiritual life.

In my view, Buddhism is in many ways spiritual practice in its purest, most highly developed form. I say this in part because it is not a religion. Buddha is not a deity. Buddhism is a spiritual way of living, and of conceiving the world and existence. It does not exclude or renounce a higher being; rather, practice of the concepts of Buddhism can serve as an adjunct or complement to any religion or for the nonreligious. For example, Buddhist belief and practice centers around universal love and compassion for all living things.

Buddhism is a very deep and challenging practice with many elements and layers that takes many years of study to comprehend and master. What I share in this and the next article to follow are but two areas of Buddhist teaching that I found interesting and especially informative to living a spiritual life.

The Four Immeasurable Minds

The Four Immeasurable Minds also are called the Four Divine States of Mind or the Four Perfect Virtues. They are said to be purifying states of mind that can transform the world. This is an area of Buddhist teaching that immediately captured my interest because these four virtues embody what I believe to be key attributes of spirituality. The Immeasurables are:

1. Love
2. Compassion
3. Joy
4. Equanimity

These four states of mind and being are said to be at the core of an enlightened person. They guide and empower everything that an enlightened one does and their interplay and application create conditions for progression to the highest levels of spirituality. To practice these effectively one must go beyond self and extinguish the ego.

These divine virtues are meant to be applied not only locally in everyday life, but also to be radiated in all directions throughout the world in meditation and/or prayer. In doing so, one is in communion with God.

Love or Loving-Kindness

One must live in a way that radiates immeasurable love throughout the world to all living things, unconditionally without attachment or preference for one over another.

Compassion

Similarly, one’s compassion for all living things should be boundless and pervasive without discrimination or favor of one over another. It is a sincere desire that the suffering of all living things will diminish or end.

Joy or Sympathetic Joy

This is selfless, measureless joy in the happiness and good fortune of all living things.

Equanimity

Equanimity is a clear, tranquil, unselfish state of mind that is free from discrimination and prejudice and holds no enmity for any living thing. It is this state of mind that fosters, facilitates, and supports love, compassion, and sympathetic joy that are all pervasive.

In a world filled with selfishness, greed, self-aggrandizement, and racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination, the Four Immeasurables represent a major paradigm shift. Nevertheless, instilling in one’s self the Four Immeasurable Minds should be the goal of anyone who wishes to be an authentic spiritual person in communion with God. What a wonderful world it would be if everyone (or at least a majority) patterned their thinking and actions according to these four states of mind!

References

Brahmavihara. Wikipedia.org. Accessed February 6, 2016.

Hanh, Thich Nhat, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation. New York: Harmony Books. 2010. First published 1999.

The Four Immeasurables: Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity. Viewonbuddhism.org. Accessed February 6, 2016.

Rahula, Walpola. What the Buddha Taught. 2nd ed. enlarg. New York: Grove Press. 1974. First published 1959.

You might like to see the following related articles:

Buddhism – Spirituality for Everyone Part 2

The Quintessence of Life

Spirituality as a State of Being