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#2574 - Monday, September 4, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz

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  • Jerry Katz
    #2574 - Monday, September 4, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz The Nondual Highlights Archive, Search Engine, and How to Contribute Your Writing :
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4 1:46 PM
      #2574 - Monday, September 4, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz

      The Nondual Highlights

      Archive, Search Engine, and How to Contribute Your Writing :

      In this issue is an article by Rev. Dr. Rodney Romney, in which ordinary human lives and events of the world intertwine with themes of transformation and nondual realization. Thanks to David Hodges, one of the pioneers in online nonduality, for this beautifully written contribution.

      Rev. Dr. Rodney Romney
      August 20, 2006

      About six years ago, shortly after my retirement
      from the Seattle First Baptist Church and before
      Beverly and I moved back to Idaho, I was walking
      around Green Lake in Seattle, when I met a
      friend, Jamal Rahman, who was a minister from the
      Islam community.  He was accompanied by a tall
      man I did not know, and as we approached Jamal
      greeted me and asked if I would mind escorting
      his friend around the lake while he ran some
      errands. Assuring us we needed to get acquainted,
      Jamal dashed off, leaving the two of us to
      introduce ourselves to each other.  We exchanged
      first names and continued to walk.  It was a bit
      awkward at first, because our only connection had
      just deserted us and left us together as total strangers.

      Gradually, as we walked, we revealed more than
      just our first names.  I told him my full name
      and that I was a recently retired Baptist
      minister.  He told me that he had formerly been a
      member of a Roman Catholic monastic community but
      had left that order to become a monk in an
      interreligious community called Sanyassa.  When I
      asked what brought him to Seattle, he said he was
      on a tour for his most recent book, "The Mystic Heart."

      At that information, I would have dropped my
      teeth had they not been securely rooted to my
      gums.   "You're Wayne Teasdale," I gasped, as
      though he might not have known it.  "I'm reading
      your latest book right now, The Mystic Heart.  I
      can't believe I'm having this walk with you."

      He smiled and said, "And you're Rod Romney,
      pastor of the First Baptist Church.  I've just
      read your book, Wilderness Spirituality, and I
      can't believe you're a Baptist."  In the middle
      of the path we stopped and embraced like old
      friends reunited, even though we had just met.

      On the rest of that walk, we chatted like
      longtime friends.  When we returned to the spot
      where we had first met, Jamal, the one who had
      dumped us off on each other, was waiting with a
      big smile.  "I knew you two needed to meet," he
      said.  "You both have a great deal in
      common.  For one thing, you have each outgrown
      your religious traditions for something more universal."

      Wayne Teasdale died a few years ago from
      cancer.  It was in his book, "The Mystic Heart,"
      that I first read about the age of
      interspirituality, a radically new approach to
      our life as a human family in a world that grows
      increasingly more divided.  He outlined this age
      with the following seven qualities:

      1. The emergence of ecological awareness and
      sensitivity to the natural, organic world, with
      an acknowledgment of the basic fragility of the earth.
      2. A growing sense of the rights of other species.
      3. A recognition of the interdependence of all domains of life and reality.
      4. The ideal of abandoning a militant nationalism
      as a result of this tangible sense of our essential interdependence.
      5. A deep, evolving experience of community
      between and among the religions through their individual members.
      6. The growing receptivity to the inner treasures of the world's religions.
      7. An openness to the cosmos, with the
      realization that the relationship between humans
      and the earth is part of the larger community of the universe.

      These shifts have slowly become part of the
      religious thought and culture of the third
      millennium.  Perhaps the spirit of Wayne Teasdale
      is hovering about and that he is aware of the
      seeds that he has sown for the common good of the
      inhabitants of this planet, particularly during
      this violent and uncertain time in which we are now living.

      Thomas Berry, a popular writer of our time,
      referred to himself as a geologian, meaning a
      theologian for the earth.  This is spirituality
      attaching itself to ecology.  The Hindu and
      Buddhist, the Sufi, the Jewish, the Muslim, the
      Christian, and indigenous peoples-all are slowly
      but surely becoming united in a movement that
      links ecology and spiritual traditions together
      in a common enterprise that today is called
      interspirituality.  An aphorism from the Hindu
      tradition says it well:  "The paths are many, but
      the goal is the same."  We are trying to save our
      earth and expand our sense of spiritual connections.

      My question regarding interspirituality is
      this:  if ecology and religion can be yoked
      together, can politics and religion find some
      common ground?  I agree with what Senator Ted
      Kennedy said recently, "Our current 'stay the
      course' strategy in Iraq is a failed
      strategy.  The bloodletting shows no sign of
      letting up.  Recent weeks have brought warnings
      that the situation may be even worse.  Once we
      said that we were there for the liberation of
      Iraq, but it now appears that what might emerge
      is an all-out civil warâ?¦  Prime Minister Tony
      Blair in Britain has agreed that Iraq could fly
      apart at any moment.  Yet President Bush
      responded to these warnings by saying:  'You
      know, I hear people say civil war this, civil war
      that, but the Iraqi people have decided against a
      civil war.'" Senator Kennedy concluded his
      remarks by saying, "So President Bush continues
      to whistle past the graveyard, and will continue
      to do so as long as Congress ratifies his failed strategy."

      I think what I am most saddened about is what
      must be happening to the souls of own young men
      and women who are fighting in Iraq, as they learn
      to kill, demean and torture other human
      beings.   I wonder if we will ever be able to
      turn this current tragedy into a higher
      realization, where we can move beyond politics
      and be touched by something ultimate.

      Teasdale wrote this in his book, "In experiences
      of tragedy, in the death of a loved one, for
      example, we leave our local awareness for a while
      and are brought into a higher realization; ¦it
      takes us beyond ourselves, into a mystical
      experience, where we are touched by something ultimate." (page 70)

      I had that experience this past week.  Before my
      older brother died about a year ago, he asked to
      be cremated and to have his ashes scattered in a
      canyon in the Little Lost River Valley, where we
      had grown up.  We (his two brothers and one
      sister) agreed to do that.  So this past week,
      about twenty members of our family met and camped
      out in Sawmill Canyon at the head of Little Lost
      River Valley.  On Saturday we drove over the
      rough, nearly impassable mountain road leading up to Bell Mountain canyon.

      In that canyon my father, a native of Utah, had
      spent all of his adult life prospecting for
      gold.  During that time, he met my mother, a
      daughter of a rancher in the Little Lost River
      valley, and when they were married, he took her
      up into that isolated canyon to live in the log
      cabin that he had built.  In that canyon, my two
      older brothers and I were conceived, and there we
      learned to talk, to walk, and to explore a world
      that was in many ways our own private Garden of
      Eden.  When my parents were divorced, our Garden
      of Eden ended, and we left that canyon, only
      going back on rare occasions to visit our
      father.  He died in l952 at the age of 53, and
      was buried in Murray, Utah, after which there
      were no more trips to the canyon.

      I was totally unprepared for what happened to me
      when we went back to that canyon this past week
      to carry out the last wishes of my brother.  As
      we stood in front of the cabin which my dad had
      built, which was now starting to fall down, I
      felt an emotion welling up inside of me that left
      me totally speechless.  The family was gathered
      around, waiting for me to say the appropriate
      words, but instead of words, all I had were
      tears.  Tears for the broken dreams of my father,
      who had lived all his life in a futile search for
      gold in that wilderness canyon.  Tears for my
      parents, whose marriage had lasted only a few
      years.  Tears for the brother who was no longer
      with us.  Tears for that tumble-down cabin that
      had once sheltered all of us.  Tears for that
      rough mountain trail where I had taken my first
      steps as a child and where I had awakened to the
      beauty and mystery of this world, as well the
      pain and separation that often marks the human path.

      When I was finally able to speak, I tried to
      share a bit of what it had been like to grow up
      in that wilderness, where all we had was each
      other.  I tried to pay tribute to my brother who
      had asked to have his final remains brought to
      that place.  But no words could express all that
      was in my heart at that moment.  I had entered
      into a state of interspiritual awareness, and an
      old Hindu aphorism came back to me, "The paths
      are many, but the goal is the same."  I was
      finally able to say a brief prayer of commitment
      and scatter the ashes of my brother around that
      old cabin that had been our first home.

      We all want to go home, to the place that
      resonates with our temperament, our
      understanding, and our capacity.  We all want to
      be where we know we belong, the place where we
      are fully loved and where we can love fully.  For
      a moment in that wilderness canyon in front of
      that old tumble-down cabin, I felt I had come
      home.  Yet I knew the feeling was only
      temporary.  I am on my way home, but I am not yet fully home.

      Wayne Teasdale said that spirituality is the
      whole inner movement of the heart to seek the
      divine.  It is a commitment to the process of
      inner change, and a personal attachment to a
      spiritual way of life and the transformation it brings.
      Spirituality is a way to travel, not a place of
      arrival.  And interspirituality is the common
      heritage of humankind's spiritual wisdom: the
      place where we share mystical resources across
      boundaries of different religious
      traditions.  Teasdale said that we are now
      entering the interspiritual age, where more and
      more people are no longer isolated within their
      own homes or native traditions, but are exploring
      other traditions, finding what is useful in their
      own growth.  Life, I think, always seeks to
      change us into more compassionate and concerned
      human beings.  If the war in Iraq could do that,
      then perhaps it will have been worth it.

      I was interested to read recently that Billy
      Graham, the famous conservative evangelist, in
      his final years has now become more moderate and
      inclusive.  He is no longer a literalist,
      believing that every jot and tittle in the Bible
      has come directly from God.  He now believes that
      God loves everybody, regardless of what label
      they have.  As he has come to his journey's end,
      he has found refuge in a new hope and
      humility.  This marks the beginning of
      interspirituality for him, whether he calls it
      that or not.  It is a journey I believe we will
      all take sooner or later, if we keep our minds and hearts open.

      Teasdale said there is a threefold summit and
      goal of the spiritual life, which is the found in
      all religious traditions:  nonduality (from the
      Hindu tradition), enlightenment (from the
      Buddhist tradition), and love (from the
      Christian, Sufi, and Jewish
      traditions).  Together these three qualities take
      us to the mystical summit, the cosmic shore, or
      whatever we wish to call it, where we all
      differences disappear, because we have become
      one.  Any individual who arrives at this final
      integration, says Teasdale, is a mystic.  He or
      she has found a deep, inner freedom to reach out
      to everyone and everything that is.  Jesus said
      when we become one, we have reached the inner
      kingdom of God, the highest attainment in life.

      Each evening, when we are here in Idaho Falls,
      weather permitting, I sit out on our deck looking
      out across a golf course to the foothills of the
      Teton Mountains and the grand expanse of the sky
      that marks the close of another day.  I have no
      requests, no desires, and no demands.  I observe
      no particular form of worship.  I simply sit in
      silent appreciation for the God who has given me
      life and who loves all creation, human and
      non-human alike.  I am grateful for the journey
      that has brought me to this awareness of the
      interspirituality of all religions and the
      interrelationship of all life.  My silent prayer
      is that the journey will widen and expand to
      include more and more people, for I believe it is
      the only way to peace and good will on this fragile earthship.

      As you may know, the Golden Rule, do unto others
      as you would have them do unto you, exists in
      every religious culture.  Confucius speaks of
      it.  The Buddhists speak of it.  The
      Bhagavad-Gita speaks of it, and Jewish and
      Christan teachings speak of it as central to
      life. What would happen if we would more fully
      and consciously honor that rule as the universal
      mandate?  We would see a dramatic improvement and
      change in the world. Wars would end, and we would
      find our way home to each other and to the
      essential truth of universal being.

      Spirituality for me today, like prayer, is the
      breath of the inner life.  As Teasdale said, "It
      is an essential resource to the transformation of
      consciousness on the planet, and it will clear a
      path for us to build a universal society where
      the transformation of consciousness will help us
      embrace all that is and assist us in building a
      universal age of peace for the good of all humanity and all creation."

      To that end, to the building of a new world of
      freedom, respect and love, I would dedicate the
      remainder of my life, and invite each of you, as
      you are moved, to do the same.  We are all on a
      journey home, to the place of our belonging, the
      place of our freedom, and the place where we are
      fully known and completely loved.  Let us journey in love and gratitude.

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