Interfaith Meditation Group

The Interfaith Group continues to meet at 5pm on the first Sunday of the month at St Francis Xavier Parish Hall, Lavender Bay. For more information contact Paul Taylor at - palmypaul@hotmail.com or 0412 949 862

Sunday 2nd April 2017

Dear friends, this coming Sunday at 5pm our monthly gathering as an interfaith meditation group continues, we hope you may be able to join us.

Please find attached the readings we will have before and after meditation, both exploring “who am I?” and as it happens, both in dialogue form. Jennifer initiated this topic when she heard a radio program where a contemporary Hindu guru, when asked “who am I?”, responded “You are a spark of divine consciousness that is having a human experience”. A perennial question indeed, we look forward to our conversation on Sunday. You may wish to spend some time with the readings prior to the group when we will share our reflections after meditation.  If you are not able to be with us on Sunday, please enjoy the readings in your own time.

An indication if you can be with us would be appreciated and help with photocopying and seating. If you no longer wish to receive these emails please let us know.
With every blessing of love and peace,
Paul and Judi

THE GOOD HEART 2 April 2017
READING BEFORE MEDITATION
From the Bible (New Revised Standard Version) the Book of Exodus 3:13-15
But Moses said to God, "If I come to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you' and they ask me, 'What is his name?', what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses "I AM WHO I AM."  He said further, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'I AM has sent me to you.' "  God also said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'The Lord (YHWH), the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you':
     This is my name forever,
     and this my title for all
      generations."

READING AFTER MEDITATION
From RAMANA MAHARSHI and the Path of Self-Knowledge by Arthur Osborne
From a dialogue between Sivaprakasam Pillai and RAMANA MAHARSHI
,
pp 85-86  

SP: Swami, who am I? And how is salvation to be found?
RM: By incessant inward enquiry 'Who am I?', you will know yourself and thereby attain salvation.
SP: Who am I?
RM: The real I or Self is not the body, nor any of the five senses, nor the sense objects, nor the organs of action, nor the prana (breath or vital force), nor the mind, nor even the deep sleep where there is no cognisance of these.
SP: If am none of these what else am I?
RM: After rejecting each of these and saying 'this I am not', that which alone remains is the 'I', and that is Consciousness.
SP:  What is the nature of consciousness?
RM:  It is SAT- CHIT- ANANDA (Being- Awareness - Bliss) in which there is not even the slightest trace of the I-thought. This is also called MOUNA (Silence) or ATMA (Self). That is the only thing that is.




Sunday 5th March 2017

Dear friends, this coming Sunday 5rd March at 5pm our monthly gathering as an interfaith meditation group continues , we hope you may be able to join us. Please find attached the readings we will have before and after meditation. Both John O’Donohue and Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr reflect on beauty as a defining aspect of God, calling we humans.While the tone of each is quite different, the spoken one more conversational, the other more formal, we will no doubt explore the resonances between them, we look forward to our conversation on Sunday. Our thanks to Michael and to Rand who have been part of selecting this material. You may wish to spend some time with the readings prior to the group when we will share our reflections after meditation.  If you are not able to be with us on Sunday, please enjoy the readings in your own time.

An indication if you can be with us would be appreciated and help with photocopying and seating. If you no longer wish to receive these emails please let us know.
With every blessing of love and peace,
Paul and Judi

THE GOOD HEART 5 March 2017
READING BEFORE MEDITATION

From http://onbeing.org/programs/john-odonohue-the-inner-landscape-of-beauty/ an interview by Ms K Tippett in On Being
Beauty isn't all about just nice loveliness…Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming…about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life…one of the huge confusions in our times is to mistake glamour for beauty.

 I think that beauty is not a luxury, but…that it ennobles the heart and reminds us of the infinity that is within us. I always loved what Mandela said when he came out…"You know that what we are afraid of is not so much our limitations but the infinite within us." And I think that that is in everybody…which is a beautiful question, the question of God… And I think it's the exciting question, once you awaken to the presence of God.
 What I love is that at the heart of Christianity, you have this idea of intimacy, which is true belonging, being seen, the ultimate home of individuation, the ultimate source of it and the homecoming.
 That's what I call spirituality, the art of homecoming. So it's St. Augustine's phrase…"God is more intimate to me than I am to myself." Then you go to Meister Eckhart, and you get the other side of it, which you must always keep together with it… God is only our name for it, and the closer we get to it the more it ceases to be God. So then you are on a real safari with the wildness and danger and otherness of God.



READING AFTER MEDITATION
From The Heart of Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr page 222. (Harper San Francisco 2002)

God is beautiful and loves beauty.   HADITH

 Like compassion, love and peace, beauty is seen as a Divine Quality in Islam, one of God's Names being al- Jamil, the Beautiful. Furthermore, according to the Hadith quoted at the beginning of this chapter, God loves beauty, meaning the qualities of beauty and love are intertwined on the Divine plane. And this reality is reflected on the human plane as well by the fact that our soul loves what it perceives as beautiful and sees as beautiful what it loves. Beauty also has the power of radiation and emanation and shares therefore a basic characteristic with compassion and mercy. Furthermore, beauty brings about collectedness and helps the scattered elements of the soul gather together in a state of calm. Beauty is therefore also related to peace and has a remarkable pacifying power over the soul, a quality that is essential to Islamic spirituality, as reflected so clearly in Islamic art.

Sunday 5th Febuary 2017

Dear friends, this coming Sunday 5th February at 5pm we recommence our monthly gathering as an interfaith meditation group, we hope you may be able to join us, it’s the sixth year we’ve set out on this journey together. Please find attached the readings we will have before and after meditation. As another year of gathering begins for us, we return to Bede Griffiths’ words as a kind of mission statement that  incorporates both the ancient and also the present day importance of our work as an interfaith prayer group.

"The perennial philosophy stems from a crucial period in human history in the middle of the first millennium before Christ. It was then that a breakthrough was made beyond the cultural limitations of ancient religion to the experience of ultimate reality. This reality, which has no proper name, since it transcends the mind and cannot be expressed in words, was called Brahman and Atman ( the Spirit) in Hinduism, Nirvana and Sunyata ( the Void) in Buddhism, Tao ( the Way) in China, Being ( toon) in Greece and Yahweh ("I am") in Israel, but all these are but words which point to an inexpressible mystery, in which the ultimate meaning of the universe is to be found, but which no human word or thought can express. It is this which is the goal of all human striving, the truth which all science and philosophy seeks to fathom, the bliss in which all human love is fulfilled. "(Universal Wisdom, p.8)

The first reading comes from the Upanishads, the second from the Jewish scriptures, both speak of this breakthrough/insight. You may wish to spend some time with the readings prior to the group when we will share our reflections after meditation.  If you are not able to be with us on Sunday, please enjoy the readings in your own time.

An indication if you can be with us would be appreciated and help with photocopying and seating. If you no longer wish to receive these emails please let us know.
With every blessing of love and peace, we look forward to being together again
Paul and Judi


THE GOOD HEART 5 February 2017
Both readings are taken from Universal Wisdom, a journey through the sacred wisdom of the world selected and introduced by Bede Griffiths (Fount/Harper Collins 1994)
READING BEFORE MEDITATION
KENA UPANISHAD 4, pp. 53-4
The Goddess said: " Spirit, through Spirit you attained your greatness. Praise the greatness of Spirit. " Then Light knew that the mysterious Person was none but Spirit.
That is how these gods - Fire, Wind and Light- attained supremacy; they came nearest to Spirit and were the first to call that Person Spirit.
Light stands above Fire and Wind; because closer than they, it was the to call that Person Spirit.
This is the moral of the tale. In the lightning, in the light of an eye, the light belongs to Spirit.
The power of the mind when it remembers and desires, when it thinks again and again, belongs to Spirit. Therefore let Mind meditate on Spirit.
Spirit is the Good in all. It should be worshipped as the Good. He that knows it as the Good is esteemed by all.
You asked me about spiritual knowledge, I have explained it.
Austerity, self- control, meditation are the foundation of this knowledge; the Vedas are its house, truth its shrine.
He who knows this shall prevail against all evil, enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven, yes, for ever enjoy the blessed Kingdom of Heaven.
READING AFTER MEDITATION
THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON Chapter 6 : 12- 20,  pp.419-420
Wisdom is radiant and unfading,
and she is easily discerned by those who love her
and is found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her.
He who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty,
for he will find her sitting at his gates.
To fix one's thoughts on her is perfect understanding,
and he who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care,
because she goes about seeking those who are worthy of her,
and she graciously appears to them in their paths,
and meets them in every thought.
The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction,
and concern for instruction is love of her,
and love of her is the keeping of her laws,
and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality, 
and immortality brings one near to God;
so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom.


Sunday 4th December 2016

READING BEFORE MEDITATION

From the Bhagavad Gita (trans. Eknath Easwaran) ch. 2, pp. 23-30

The Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire, water cannot wet it, nor can wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundation of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. Knowing this you should not grieve.

O Arjuna, even if you believe the Self to be subject to birth and death you should not grieve. Death is inevitable for the living and birth is inevitable for the dead. Since those are unavoidable, you should not sorrow. Every creature is unmanifested at first and then attains manifestation. When it's end has come, it once again becomes unmanifested. What is there to lament in this?

The glory of the Self is beheld by a few, and a few describe it; a few listen, but many without understanding. The Self of all beings, is eternal and cannot be harmed. Therefore do not grieve.

READING AFTER MEDITATION

From The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying Sogyal Rinpoche. 2002, p. 322


So my heartfelt advice to those in the depths of grief and despair after losing someone they dearly loved is to pray for help and strength and grace.  Pray you will survive and discover the richest possible meaning to the new life you now find yourself in.  Be vulnerable and receptive, be courageous, and be patient.  Above all, look into your life to find ways of sharing your love more deeply with others now.


Sunday Nov 6th 2016

READING BEFORE MEDITATION
An excerpt from the poem "For the Traveler" by John O'Donohue. as published in To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings  (Doubleday, 2008).

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

READING AFTER MEDITATION
Tony Christie, founder of Labyrinth Ireland and Veriditas Advanced Labyrinth facilitator

“A labyrinth is an ancient symbol usually circular in shape that contains one path leading from the outside to the centre. When placed on the ground the labyrinth can be used as a walking meditation. The labyrinth represents our journey to our centre and back out again.

Labyrinths are a symbol of wholeness.  They can be used as a tool for self-discovery, for healing, and for accessing your inner wisdom.  Unlike a maze which is designed to get you lost, a labyrinth helps you to find yourself.   Your only decision is whether or not to take that next step and enter....”


SUNDAY 2nd October
We look forward to gathering with you again this Sunday in the hall at Lavender Bay, adjacent to the St Francis Xavier church in Mackenzie St.

We are grateful to have received the material for our reflection this Sunday as part of the Weekly Readings which are sent out from the World Community for Christian Meditation Community (www.wccm.org )...grateful that they allow us to continue our conversation form last time and grateful to be given them when we are on holidays with the family on the north coast.  The reading from the Dhammapada is paired with one from Father Laurence in the column he writes for The Tablet, an international Catholic weekly newspaper.

Even if you are not able to be with us on the day, we invite you to enjoy the readings. A brief email if you can come would be appreciated and help with photocopying and setting up the space etc. If you no longer wish to receive these emails please let us know.
With love Judi and Paul
READING BEFORE MEDITATION from THE DHAMMAPADA, “The Path,” v. 276-279, ed. by Anne Bancroft (Rockport, MA: Element, 1997), p. 81.
You must make the effort, the awakened only point the way. Those who have entered the path and who meditate, free themselves from the bonds of illusion.
Everything is changing. It arises and passes away. The one who realizes this is freed from sorrow. This is the shining path. To exist is to know suffering. Realize this and be free from suffering. This is the radiant path.
AFTER MEDITATION from “The Silence of the Soul” by Laurence Freeman OSB in THE TABLET 10 May 1997.
Our thoughts, fears, fantasies, hopes, angers and attractions are all rising and falling moment by moment. We automatically identify ourselves with these fleeting or compulsively recurring states without thinking what we are thinking. When silence teaches us how unreliably transient these states really are, we confront the terrible questions of who we are. In silence we must wrestle with the terrible possibility of our own non-reality.
Buddhist thought makes this experience—what it calls anatman or “no self”- one of the central wisdom-pillars of its path of liberation from suffering and one of its essential means to enlightenment. The Buddhist practitioner is encouraged to seek out this sense of inner transience and rather than fleeing from it to dive headlong into it, as Meister Eckhart and the great Christian mystics did.
Understandably, anatman is the Buddhist idea that others generally have most trouble with. How absurd, how terrible, how sacrilegious to say that I don’t exist. In fact most Christian antagonism to anatman is unfounded or founded on misinterpretation. It does not mean that we do not exist but that we do not exist in autonomous independence, which is the kind of existence the ego likes to imagine it has; the kind of fantasy of being God with which the serpent tempted Eve. It is the hubris to which religious people often fall victim.
I do not exist by myself because God is the ground of my being. In the light of this insight we read the words of Jesus in the New Testament with deeper perception.  “If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, he must leave self behind; day after day he must take up his cross and come with me; but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). If through silence we can embrace this truth of anatman, we make important discoveries about the nature of consciousness. We discover that consciousness, the soul, is more than the amazing computing and calculating and judging system of the brain. We are more than what we think. Meditation is not what we think.

Judi Taylor 
Please note my new email address taylor.judi@outlook.com

SUNDAY 4th September

READING BEFORE MEDITATION 
From GK Chesterton (on HG Wells) in Heretics (1905) p. 68
It is the humble man who has the sensational sights vouchsafed to him…Humility is the luxurious art of reducing ourselves to a point, not to a small thing or a large one, but to a thing with no size at all, so that to it all the cosmic things are what they really are — of immeasurable stature. That the trees are high and the grasses short is a mere accident of our own foot-rules and our own stature. But to the spirit which has stripped off for a moment its own idle temporal standards the grass is an everlasting forest, with dragons for denizens; the stones of the road are as incredible mountains piled one upon the other; the dandelions are like gigantic bonfires illuminating the lands around; and the heath-bells on their stalks are like planets hung in heaven each higher than the other.
READING AFTER MEDITATION
From Ken Wilber The Eye of the Spirit pp 302-303
We say, " To lose face is to die of embarrassment," and that is deeply true: we do not want to lose face! We do not want to die! We do not want to cease the sensation of the separate-self!  But that primal fear of losing face is actually the root of our deepest agony, because saving face - saving an identity with the body mind- is the very mechanism of suffering, the very mechanism of tearing the Kosmos into an inside versus an outside, a brutal fracture that I experience as pain.

But when I rest in simple, clear, ever-present awareness, I lose face. Inside and outside completely disappear. It happens just like this:
As I drop all objects - I am not this, not that - and I rest in the pure and simple Witness, all objects arise easily in my visual field, all objects arise in the space of the Witness. I am simply an opening or clearing in which all things arise. I notice that all things arise in me, arise in this opening or clearing that I am. The clouds are floating by in this vast opening that I am. The sun is shining in this vast opening that I am. The sky exists in this vast opening that I am; the sky is in me. I can taste the sky, it's closer to me than my own skin. The clouds are on the inside of me; I am seeing them from within. When all things arise in me, I am simply all things. The universe is One Taste, and I am That…

I am no longer on this side on this side of my face looking at the world out there; I am simply the world. I am not in here. I have lost face- and discovered my Original Face, the Kosmos itself. The bird sings and I am that. The sun rises, and I am that. The moon shines, and I am that, in simple, ever present awareness.


SUNDAY 7th August

Dear friends,We look forward to gathering with you again this Sunday in the hall at Lavender Bay, adjacent to the St Francis Xavier church in Mackenzie St.

Recently we had the privilege of being with a group in Alice Springs with Miriam Rose Ungunmerr, you may recall we’ve several times reflected on her piece on dadirri  “…deep inner listening and quiet still awareness…”  you might like to view the short film we showed about this at our Meditation and the Environment seminar in April  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkY1dGk-LyE  In the spirit of dadirri we’ve chosen the attached (and below)readings.
Even if you are not able to be with us on the day, we invite you to enjoy the readings. A brief email if you can come would be appreciated and help with photocopying and setting up the space etc. If you no longer wish to receive these emails please let us know.
With love Judi and Paul
READING BEFORE MEDITATION 7 August 2016
From THE REALITY OF BEING the Fourth Way of Gurdjieff
Jeanne de Salzmann (Shambala 2011)

I learn to listen to the unknown in myself. I do not know, and I listen, constantly refusing each known response. From moment to moment, I recognise that I do not know, and I listen. The very act of listening is a liberation. It is an act that does not flee the present, and when I know the present as it is, there is transformation.

READING AFTER MEDITATION
From HARA The Vital Centre of Man Karlfried Graf Durckheim
pp. 123-124 (trans. Sylvia-Monica von Kospoth with Estelle Healey, Allen and Unwin 1962)

In the centre of all practice serving the Inner Way stands the 'backward turning'. For this ego caught on the ladder of its concepts and ideas, and struggling always to maintain its foothold, is not necessary. What is necessary is a movement which leads downwards to the all-dissolving, all absorbing depth of the Source…
…Anyone who has ever had the experience of finding them-self, after the unbearable strain of life with all its duties and entanglements, once again among mountains and forests and running streams, and who feels the joyous affirmations of Nature released in them-self knows very well that the glory they now taste has nothing to do with any intellectually-imposed sublimation of their lower nature. It is a value in itself, bearing its own rapture and its own obligation. One senses the release of an in-dwelling life-force freeing them from the hampering rationalism of their life and healing them through a widening and deepening sense of being alive and a part of life. If it is then possible for a person to surrender them-self wholly to the depth which breaks open in such an experience they are filled to overflowing with the numinous…And as everyone knows, whatever it may be that releases the experience of Great Nature's abundance is the same which releases the heart trapped in its suffering and clears the mind to the brightness of its own light.

See Peter Laffan article on Interfaith meeting 2015

Interfaith Meditation Group

Sunday 3 July 2016
We look forward to gathering with you again this Sunday in the hall at Lavender Bay, adjacent to the St Francis Xavier church in Mackenzie St.

This month Jennifer will again lead us in an experience of walking meditation from the Buddhist tradition, she suggests walking in socks. You might like to read the full article from Thich Nhat Hanh before the group on Sunday at http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Thich_Nhat_Hanh_A_Guide_to_Walking_Meditation.htm.

The reading after meditation is from Bede Griffiths, our music as we gather will be what we shared as we joined with others from many places and traditions at Bede’s ashram Shantivanam in southern India several years ago.
Even if you are not able to be with us on the day, we invite you to enjoy the readings. A brief email to  palmy@ozemail.com.au if you can come would be appreciated and help with photocopying and setting up With love Judi and Paul
READING BEFORE MEDITATION 
Excerpts from A guide to Walking Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh
In order to have peace and joy, you must succeed in having peace within each of your steps.
                                                                *
Walking meditation is practicing meditation while walking. It can bring you joy and peace while you practice it. Take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips, with your heart open to an experience of peace. You can feel truly at ease with yourself. Your steps can be those of the healthiest, most secure person on earth. All sorrows and worries can drop away while you are walking. To have peace of mind, to attain self-liberation, learn to walk in this way. It is not difficult. You can do it. Anyone can do it who has some degree of mindfulness and a true intention to be happy.
*
In our daily lives, we usually feel pressured to move ahead. We have to hurry. We seldom ask ourselves where it is that we must hurry to.
When you practice walking meditation, you …..  have no purpose or direction ….  The purpose of walking meditation is walking meditation itself. Going is important, not arriving. Walking meditation is not a means to an end; it is an end. Each step is life; each step is peace and joy.
*
In our daily life, our steps are burdened with anxieties and fears. Life itself seems to be a continuous chain of insecure feelings, and so our steps lose their natural easiness.
*
Walking meditation is learning to walk again with ease. When you were about a year old, you began to walk with tottering steps. Now, in practicing walking meditation you are learning to walk again…..   step solidly, in peace and comfort.
*
Walk so that your footprints bear only the marks of peaceful joy and complete freedom. To do this, you have to learn to let go – let go of your sorrows, let go of your worries. That is the secret of walking meditation.
*
The Infant Buddha is often portrayed taking his first seven steps on earth, causing a lotus flower to appear in each of his footsteps. We should all cause a lotus flower to bloom with each of our peaceful steps. Next time you practice walking meditation, please try visualizing a lotus flower opening as your feet touch the ground, like a newborn Buddha. Don’t feel unworthy of this vision. If your steps are serene, they are worthy of this flowering. You are a Buddha, and so is everyone else. I didn’t make that up. It was the Buddha himself who said so. He said that all beings had the potential to become awakened.
*
To practice ….. Stand on one foot, and be aware that it is resting upon the earth; see the great sphere (the earth) upon which it rests. See it clearly – how wonderfully round it is. While walking, look down and anticipate the ground where you are about to place your foot, and when you do, mindfully experience your foot, the ground, and the connection between your foot and the ground.
******

Keeping the quietness of our meditation, we stand and start to form a circle, leaving a space between each person.  We prepare by clasping our hands simply in front of us.  We will walk slowly in a circle, following me, leaving a step between each person, paying attention to the body and placing each step slowly and mindfully, feeling the sensation of lifting your foot and leg from the earth and placing it back down.  Feeling the way your body balances on your legs and your feet, sensing the sensations of your body as you walk.  Be aware, also, of the room we are in, of the others we are walking with, of the air through which we are moving.  Whenever your mind wanders, bring it back to the feeling of your next step, and awareness of what we are doing.

READING AFTER MEDITATION from Bede Griffiths The Golden String, quoted in “How do you Pray?” ed. Celeste Yacobini (Monkfish)  P.14

It is only in prayer that we can communicate with one another at the deepest level of our being.  Behind all words and gestures, behind all thoughts and feelings, there is an inner centre of prayer where we can meet one another in the presence of God.  It is this inner centre which is the real source of all life and activity and of all love.  If we could learn to live from that centre we should be living from the heart of life, and our whole being would be moved by love.  Here alone could all the conflicts of this life be resolved, and we can experience a love which is beyond time and change.

READING BEFORE MEDITATION 1 MAY 2016

A reading from Dadirri  by Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Compass 22 (1988) 

What I want to talk about is another special quality of my people...  In our language this quality is called dadirri... inner, deep listening and quiet still awareness.



Dadirri  recognises the deep spring that is inside us.  We call on it and it calls to us...When I experience dadirri , I am made whole again.  I can sit on the river bank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness.  There is no need of words.



A big part of dadirri  is listening.  Through the years, we have listened to our stories.  They are told and sung over and over, as the seasons go by…

In our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days.  We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened.  This was the normal way for us to learn – not by asking questions.  We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting.  Our people have passed on this way of listening for over 40,000 years…



The contemplative way of dadirri  spreads over our whole life.  It renews us and brings us peace.  It makes me feel whole again…


READING AFTER MEDITATION
From Minding the Earth, Mending the World Susan Murphy p.8
Meditation is the act of paying reality the courtesy of wonder and friendly curiosity that is sometimes called non-judgmental attention, a process that never stops opening and revealing itself, and clarifying what is needed at this moment. The discipline and love required for this is its own reward – it eases what the novelist David Foster Wallace called ‘the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing’.

2nd February 2016
Dear friends, welcome to our another year of meeting for interfaith meditation and sharing sacred readings, our fifth year. Hoping the year has begun well for you and yours, and holds a sense of promise and many blessings.

You may recall last year, we shared with you our decision, taken with Father Laurence, to call our group THE GOOD HEART which is the record (written and on DVD) of a momentous meeting in 1994 with The World Community for Christian Meditation in the UK, where His Holiness The Dalai Lama read and commented on our sacred scriptures. It has provided us with much of the inspiration for our group, its pillars of respect, trust and  friendship have  indeed been the guiding principles of our times together over these 4 years. We suggest that in this spirit, we continue to call our group THE GOOD HEART. Our hope and sense is that our sharing of silence and scripture (and music) also includes a shared compassion for our world . What this might mean and how this could be expressed will, we trust emerge...we people of good heart will see the way.

Please find below the readings before and after meditation. The readings this month are related to the themes of our international seminar coming up in April on meditation and the environment, the click here for brochure, we are very much hoping you may be able to join us for all or part of the time. With the readings, we have included additional material for your reflection this month, it is a rich area! You may wish to spend some time with it all prior to the group where we will share the fruits of our reflection after meditation.  
Even if you are not able to be with us on the day, we invite you to enjoy the readings. A brief email if you can be with us would be appreciated and help with photocopying and setting up the space etc. If you no longer wish to receive these emails please let us know.
We will continue to meet in the parish hall, Mackenzie St, Lavender Bay, adjacent to St Francis Xavier church, please enter by the side door. There is parking in the churchyard if you wish. North Sydney station is a few minutes’ walk away.
We are delighted to set out on another year’s journey with you all!
With love Judi and Paul

THE GOOD HEART 7 February 2016
Both readings are from The Little Green Book on Awakening James George (2009)
READING BEFORE MEDITATION
HH the Dalai Lama quoted in Preface
The rapid changes in our attitude toward the Earth are also a source of hope. Until recently, we thoughtlessly consumed its resources as if there were no end to them.  Now not only individuals but also governments are seeking a new ecological order. I often joke that the moon and stars look beautiful, but if any of us tried to live on them, we would be miserable.  This blue planet of ours is the most delightful habitat we know. Its life is our life, its future is our future. Now Mother Nature is telling us to cooperate. In the face of such global problems as the green house effect and the deterioration of the ozone layer, individual organisations and single nations are helpless. Our mother is teaching us a lesson in universal responsibility.
The key point is to have a genuine sense of universal responsibility, based on love and compassion, and clear awareness.

READING AFTER MEDITATION
page 18
When the author noticed (at a conference) that Oren Lyons, a Chief of the Onondaga tribe, was getting up long before everyone else each morning to perform a ceremony in which he was facing each of the four directions, he asked him " Why are you doing this here and getting so little sleep? You are a rational man, a Professor at Buffalo University. How can it help you or anyone?"

Chief Oren replied "I do it because I must. If those responsible in each region do not perform these ceremonies every day, the connection between our world and the higher world will be broken and the higher energies will not reach our land, the climate will be disrupted, the rains will not come, life will not produce our children and our crops, and violence will spread in all directions. That is my function my service.”

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL FOR OUR REFLECTION
*       He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough - Lao Tzu
*       There is enough for everyone’s need but not for anyone’s greed -  Mahatma Gandhi 
*       Pope Francis Laudate Si, IV Joy and Peace, 222
Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that “less is more”. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures.
*       In the Kabbalah it is stated that for the earth to survive there must at all times be 36 “righteous persons” living and practising the transmission of vivifying energies from above.
*       Imagine a pattern. This pattern is stable, but not fixed. Think of it in as many dimensions as you like – but it has more than three. This pattern has many threads of many colours, and every thread is connected to, and has a relationship with, all of the others. The individual threads are every shape of life. Some – like human, kangaroo, paperbark – are known to western science as ‘alive’; others like rock would be called ‘non-living’. But rock is there, just the same. Human is there too, though it is neither the most or the least important thread – it is one among many; equal with the others. The pattern made by the whole is in each thread, and all the treads together make the whole. Stand close to the pattern and you can focus on a single thread; stand a little further back and you can see how that thread connects to others; stand further back still and you can  see it all – and it is only once you see it all that you can recognise the pattern of the whole in every individual thread. The whole is more than its parts, and the whole is in all its parts. This is the pattern that the ancestors made. It is life, creation, spirit, and it exists in country – Kwaymullina, 2005


6th December
Dear friends,
Our interfaith meditation group will be gathering for our final time in 2015 this Sunday in the hall at Lavender Bay. The 6 weekly meditation groups at Lavender Bay/Kirribilli are in recess from Wednesday 16th December til Monday 1st February, our next interfaith group will be held on Sunday 7 February.

Please find  below our readings before and after meditation on Sunday. Even 
With love in this season of joyful anticipation
Judi and Paul
THE GOOD HEART 6 December  2015
READING BEFORE MEDITATION
“One Song” from THE SOUL OF RUMI: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems tr. Coleman Barks (New York: HarperCollins, 2002) p. 47
What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured

into a huge basin. All religions, all this singing,
one song.

The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight
looks slightly different

on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different
on this other one, but

it is still one light. We have borrowed these clothes, these
time- and space-personalities,

from a Light, and when we praise, we pour them back in.

READING AFTER MEDITATION

From the 4th chapter of The Bhagavad Gita "Wisdom in Action"
Sri Krishna says to Arjuna..."You and I have passed through many births, Arjuna. You have forgotten, but I remember them all. My true being is unborn and changeless. I am the Lord who dwells in every creature. Through the power of my own maya, I manifest myself in a finite form. Whenever dharma declines and the purpose of life is forgotten, I manifest myself on earth. I am born in every age to protect the good, to destroy evil, and to re-establish dharma.
He who knows me as his own divine Self breaks through the belief that he is the body and is not reborn as a separate creature. Such a one, Arjuna, is united with me. Delivered from selfish attachment, fear and anger, filled with me, surrendering themselves to me, purified in the fire of my being, many have reached the state of unity in me.
As men approach me, so I receive them. All paths, Arjuna, lead to me.”
Dear friends,
Our interfaith meditation group will be gathering again on Sunday 1 November just for this one time we are meeting at the labyrinth in Centennial Park. To find the labyrinth: From the Paddington Gates at the big intersection of Oxford St and Moore Park Rd, head straight down Parkes Drive, past the Cafe Pavilion, through the centre of the park and turn left into Dickens DriveGo past Loch Ave which veers off to the left and the labyrinth is about 100 metres further along Dickens Drive in the small field on the right, beside Lachlan Swamp. We will have a bright green Bali flag at our gathering space.
Map and directions on getting to Centennial Park here: http://www.sydneylabyrinth.org/location/
Please find attached and below our readings before and after meditation, chosen by Donna Mulhearn a member of our meditation Community from the Blue Mountains. Donna has completed the labyrinth facilitator’s course and will give an introduction to walking the labyrinth after meditation.
Even if you are not able to comeon the day, we invite you to enjoy the readings. A brief email if you can come would be appreciated and help with photocopying and setting up the space etc. If you no longer wish to receive these emails please let us know. Please feel free to bring interested friends.
If you can stay, please bring a picnic for afterwards. Importantly please bring a chair or rug or you may prefer to sit on the grass.
If the weather looks uncertain we will put a message on our answer-phone 9954 1037 at 3.30. Please note we are away from Sydney til then but will be on email if you need to contact us. The wet weather option is to use our full scale canvas labyrinth in the hall where we usually meet.
With love Judi and Paul

THE GOOD HEART 1 November 2015
READING BEFORE MEDITATION
An excerpt from the poem "For the Traveler" by John O'Donohue. as published in To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings  (Doubleday, 2008).

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
READING AFTER MEDITATION
Tony Christie, founder of Labyrinth Ireland and Veriditas Advanced Labyrinth facilitator

“A labyrinth is an ancient symbol usually circular in shape that contains one path leading from the outside to the centre. When placed on the ground the labyrinth can be used as a walking meditation. The labyrinth represents our journey
to our centre and back out again.

Labyrinths are a symbol of wholeness.  They can be used as a tool for self- discovery, for healing, and for accessing your inner wisdom.  Unlike a maze which is designed to get you lost, a labyrinth helps you to find yourself.   Your only decision is whether or not to take that next step and enter....”




Directions to the Centennial Park Labyrinth:
To find the labyrinth: From the Paddington Gates at the big intersection of Oxford St
and Moore Park Rd, head straight down Parkes Drive, past the Cafe Pavilion,
through the centre of the park and turn left into Dickens Drive
Go past Loch Ave which veers off to the left and the labyrinth is about
100 metres further along Dickens Drive in the small field on the right,
 beside Lachlan Swamp. We will have a bright green Bali flag at our gathering space.

Map and directions on getting to Centennial Park here:





READING BEFORE MEDITATION 4 October 2015
Maha Ati by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (Excerpts)
The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, and to all people, experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.

This produces a tremendous energy which is usually locked up in the process of mental evasion and a general running away from life experiences……
When performing the meditation practice one should develop the feeling of opening oneself completely to the whole universe with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind, ridding oneself of all protecting barriers.
…….
All aspects of every phenomenon are completely clear and lucid. The whole universe is open and unobstructed, everything mutually interpenetrating. Seeing all things nakedly, clear and free from obstructions, there is nothing to attain or realize. The nature of things naturally appears, and is naturally present in time-transcending awareness; this is complete openness.
……
One should learn to see everyday life as a mandala in which one is at the center, and free of the bias and prejudice of past conditioning, present desires, and hopes and expectations about the future.
The figures of the mandala are the day-to-day objects of one's life experiences moving in the great dance of the play of the universe, the symbolism by which the guru reveals profound and ultimate meaning and significance.
Therefore, be natural and spontaneous; accept and learn from everything.
This oral teaching has been prepared by the Yeshe Melong Publications staff. We dedicate the merit of this publication to the health and long-life of the spiritual teachers, to the propagation of the Dharma in the world, and to the happiness, well-being, and enlightenment of all beings. May complete auspiciousness prevail!

READING AFTER MEDITATION
from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche p.38
Modern science speaks to us of an extraordinary range of interrelations.  Ecologists know that a tree burning in the Amazon rain forest alters in some way the air breathed by a citizen of Paris, and that the trembling of a butterfly wing in Yucatan affects the life of a fern in the Hebrides.  Biologists are beginning to uncover the fantastic and complex dance of the genes that creates personality and identity, a dance that stretches far into the past and shows that each so-called “identity” is composed of a swirl of different influences.  Physicists have introduced us to the world of the quantum particle, a world astonishingly like that described by Buddha in his image of the glittering net that unfolds across the universe.  Just like the jewels in the net, all particles exist potentially as different combinations of other particles.” (p.38)

READING BEFORE MEDITATION 6 September 2015
Excerpts from A guide to Walking Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh

In order to have peace and joy, you must succeed in having peace within each of your steps.
                                                                *
Walking meditation is practicing meditation while walking. It can bring you joy and peace while you practice it. Take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips, with your heart open to an experience of peace. You can feel truly at ease with yourself. Your steps can be those of the healthiest, most secure person on earth. All sorrows and worries can drop away while you are walking. To have peace of mind, to attain self-liberation, learn to walk in this way. It is not difficult. You can do it. Anyone can do it who has some degree of mindfulness and a true intention to be happy.
*
In our daily lives, we usually feel pressured to move ahead. We have to hurry. We seldom ask ourselves where it is that we must hurry to.
When you practice walking meditation, you …..  have no purpose or direction ….  The purpose of walking meditation is walking meditation itself. Going is important, not arriving. Walking meditation is not a means to an end; it is an end. Each step is life; each step is peace and joy.
*
In our daily life, our steps are burdened with anxieties and fears. Life itself seems to be a continuous chain of insecure feelings, and so our steps lose their natural easiness.
*
Walking meditation is learning to walk again with ease. When you were about a year old, you began to walk with tottering steps. Now, in practicing walking meditation you are learning to walk again…..   step solidly, in peace and comfort.
*
Walk so that your footprints bear only the marks of peaceful joy and complete freedom. To do this, you have to learn to let go – let go of your sorrows, let go of your worries. That is the secret of walking meditation.
*
The Infant Buddha is often portrayed taking his first seven steps on earth, causing a lotus flower to appear in each of his footsteps. We should all cause a lotus flower to bloom with each of our peaceful steps. Next time you practice walking meditation, please try visualizing a lotus flower opening as your feet touch the ground, like a newborn Buddha. Don’t feel unworthy of this vision. If your steps are serene, they are worthy of this flowering. You are a Buddha, and so is everyone else. I didn’t make that up. It was the Buddha himself who said so. He said that all beings had the potential to become awakened.
*
To practice ….. Stand on one foot, and be aware that it is resting upon the earth; see the great sphere (the earth) upon which it rests. See it clearly – how wonderfully round it is. While walking, look down and anticipate the ground where you are about to place your foot, and when you do, mindfully experience your foot, the ground, and the connection between your foot and the ground.
******

Keeping the quietness of our meditation, we stand and start to form a circle, leaving a space between each person.  We prepare by clasping our hands simply in front of us.  We will walk slowly in a circle, following me, leaving a step between each person, paying attention to the body and placing each step slowly and mindfully, feeling the sensation of lifting your foot and leg from the earth and placing it back down.  Feeling the way your body balances on your legs and your feet, sensing the sensations of your body as you walk.  Be aware, also, of the room we are in, of the others we are walking with, of the air through which we are moving.  Whenever your mind wanders, bring it back to the feeling of your next step, and awareness of what we are doing.


READING AFTER MEDITATION from Bede Griffiths The Golden String, quoted in “How do you Pray?” ed. Celeste Yacobini (Monkfish)  P.14

It is only in prayer that we can communicate with one another at the deepest level of our being.  Behind all words and gestures, behind all thoughts and feelings, there is an inner centre of prayer where we can meet one another in the presence of God.  It is this inner centre which is the real source of all life and activity and of all love.  If we could learn to live from that centre we should be living from the heart of life, and our whole being would be moved by love.  Here alone could all the conflicts of this life be resolved, and we can experience a love which is beyond time and change.


READING BEFORE MEDITATION 2 August 2015
Opening prayer World Community for Christian Meditation
(John Main osb)

Heavenly Father, open our hearts to the silent presence of the spirit of your Son.
Lead us into that mysterious silence where your love is revealed to all who call,
'Maranatha…Come, Lord Jesus'.

AFTER MEDITATION
A Reading from the Chandogya Upanishad quoted in the booklet from Common Ground , a seminar on the contemplative dimension of faith
7-8 January 2012 Singapore
 There is a Light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the Light that shines in our heart.
 All this universe is in truth Brahman. He is the beginning and end and life of all. As such, in silence, give unto him adoration.
 There is a Spirit that is mind and life, light and truth and vast spaces. This Spirit contains all works and desires and all perfumes and all tastes. This Spirit enfolds the whole universe and, in silence, is loving to all.
 This is the Spirit that is in my heart, smaller than a grain of rice, or a grain of barley or a grain of mustard seed, or a grain of canary seed, or the kernel of a grain of canary seed. This is the Spirit that is in my heart, greater than the earth, greater than the sky, greater than heaven itself, greater than all these worlds.
 The Spirit contains all works and desires and all perfumes and all tastes. This Spirit enfolds the whole universe and in silence is loving to all. This is the Spirit that is in my heart, this is Brahman.
 To this Spirit shall I come when I go beyond this life. And to this Spirit will come the one who has faith and doubts not.


READING AFTER MEDITATION 7 JUNE 2015
From John Main osb, MONASTERY WITHOUT WALLS: The Spiritual Letters of John Main (Norwich: Canterbury, 2006), pp. 127-28.

The gift of vision is the wonder of creation. We are empowered to see the reality within which we live and move and have our being. It is not a gift we can ever possess because it is one we are continuously receiving. In returning it, in letting go, we receive it again even more fully. That is why, the longer we have been meditating the more we do so without demands or expectations. Knowing that God has created us to share in being takes possession of us without our knowing it. Yet the light of consciousness we expand into is complete in ways that the ego’s dim self-consciousness never can be. . .

For those humbly treading the pilgrimage of prayer into light, this is the essential knowledge we need. Knowledge is experience. It is also the Word that once uttered makes conscious whoever hears it. It summons us out of the old fixed pattern and inspires us to breathe more deeply into the expanding reality and to place our centre of consciousness beyond self-preoccupation. It is to discover that our centre is in God. How we may come to this journey is less important than that we do begin it. To begin, it is necessary to enter somehow into real commitment. That moment of self-giving, of surrendering the ego, is the hole in the wall of the ego that, however fleetingly at first, allows in the light. Light will flow in more and more powerfully until it overcomes whatever blocks translucence.

This moment of commitment is always available to us. It is not an absent ideal, a theoretical possibility, but always a present reality accessible through faith. The question is, are we sufficiently present to ourselves to see it, to hear the invitation and respond? Every moment is the moment because all time has been charged with divine meaning. “Now is the acceptable time.” All time is the “moment of Christ.” Like a lover, like a gardener, God patiently awaits our response, our growth.

In this Contemplative Walking exercise we use the experience of walking as our focus. We become mindful of our experience while walking, and we try to keep our awareness involved with our movement, the experience of walking as we maintain the space and pace with those around us.

As we walk, we keep our eyes open, holding awareness of things outside ourselves… including the space we are in, sounds of different kinds and the group we are part of… and perhaps our body in different ways too.

We begin by becoming aware of ourself standing, the sensation where the feet make contact with the surface, how my weight is distributed and balanced, letting the arms hang naturally, allowing the eyes to gaze at a point about ahead. 

As we walk we keep our attention on the sole of the foot. We are aware of a number of parts to each step…raising the foot, lifting it, allowing it to go forward, dropping the foot, touching the ground and pressing it down. All the while attending to the whole group and our place in it.

Our attention must be on the sensation and the movement. Be aware of thoughts distracting us, return to the awareness of sensation and movement. We may be aware of some elements of what is around us, return. We may perhaps by moments become aware of a rhythm as we walk. Or perhaps of the group moving as one.

Contemplative Walking before sitting to meditate brings balance, we try to let one flow into the other for continuity of awareness.

We form a large circle, each about a metre apart or less if space requires, standing arms out can help to find the distance.
First gong we bow towards the centre
Second gong we turn towards the left
Third gong we all step with our right foot…

Walking for 10-15 minutes

First gong we stop
Second gong we turn towards the centre
Third gong we bow towards the centre…
We return to our meditation space in silence.

THE GOOD HEART Readings before and after meditation 1 March 2015
 TIBETAN BUDDHIST PRAYER OF MOTIVATION
By the power and the truth of this practice
May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness
Be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
May they never be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering
And may they dwell in the great equanimity that is free from attachment and aversion.

From Neil Douglas Klotz Desert Wisdom ARC Books, 2011, p.42
A possible translation... from the Aramaic Pesshita version of the Gospel of John chapter 8, verse 12, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me will not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (King James version)
 Then Yeshua spoke again to them, saying:
The "I Am" in you, in me,
Illuminates all the worlds of form.

It clarifies and reveals the force
behind creation's shining joy.
When you follow this inner light of the self,
conscious of the Only Self, the One Being,
you do not stumble blindly
but find your way through the darkness,
guided by the light of the inner life energy...

Simple Presence is the radiant force
Guiding us along the path of
nature's expansive power.

TIBETAN BUDDHIST PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Through this merit
May all beings attain the omniscient state of enlightenment
And conquer the enemy of faults and delusion
May they all be liberated from this ocean of suffering

And from its pounding waves of birth, old age, sickness and death.