Johann Sebastian Bach: "Nun, Komm der heiden Heiland"



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Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Healer for a Broken Time

Vincent Di Stefano

Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the Capuchin priest who carried the wounds of the crucified Christ, embodied truths that have been stridently denied by many who would tell us how we are to think and what we are to disbelieve during these times of overwhelming power and overwhelming impotence. This remarkable man bore witness to the essential truth carried in the Christian understanding of the Incarnation, of the human embodiment of the living Christ. As one who bore the stigmata, the five wounds of the crucified Christ, Padre Pio projected historical truth.

He shares this witness with such others as Saint Francis of Assisi and Therese Neumann, both of whose lives shatter the certainty of what has been considered the limits of the possible.

We pride ourselves on the cogency of the scientific knowledge and understanding that have enabled us to crack apart atoms and atolls, leave flags and footprints on the moon, and map the structure of cellular DNA. This same pride has decreed that only through such methods as those sanctioned by science can we arrive at Truth. But despite our proofs and our powers, many aspects of the phenomenal world continue to defy scientific interpretation.

Sixty years ago, historian of science Thomas Kuhn described how our ways of thinking can become so fixed that we refuse to accept any evidence that cannot be explained or accommodated by our view of the world or the paradigm through which we interpret reality. Kuhn went on to describe the progressive accumulation of "anomalous" evidence that does not fit in to our way of thinking. This can often force a complete reassessment of the paradigm or model through which such evidence is interpreted. This process underlies the periodic revolutions that occur in scientific understanding.

There is no shortage of "anomalous" manifestation in the world. And there is much that occurs in the experiences of many that simply cannot be accommodated by an exclusively materialistic and rationalistic view of reality.


Meditation Handbook

Christopher Calder

Meditation is inner astronomy. You discover the stars, the moon, and the sun are all inside you.

What is Meditation?

Most dictionaries define the Western (Jewish, Christian, Islamic) meaning of the word "meditation," but usually do not describe the Eastern (Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist) concept of meditation. The most appropriate dictionary definition I could find reads as follows: "If you meditate, you give your attention to one thing, and do not think about anything else, usually as a religious activity or as way of calming or relaxing your mind." This definition very subtly implies that meditation means thinking about something, be it religious or mystical in nature, and that a constant thought process goes on while one meditates. The purest Eastern definition of the word 'meditation' means not thinking at all, but rather focusing the consciousness on the cosmic whole, "the all and the everything" as George Gurdjieff called it, without thought, judgment, or distraction.

We define the word 'meditation' here as the art of consciousness becoming aware of itself on the grand and cosmic scale. Meditation cannot honestly be called a science because any real science requires objective testing, which is not currently possible for the practice of meditation. The real art of meditation is beyond thought, beyond society, and beyond time.


A Spiritual Journey to Russia’s Valaam Monastery

This is another excellent documentary from RT on the spiritual awakening taking place in Russia.

Valaam Monastery (the name means “high mountain ground”) sits on an island in Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe and the 14th largest freshwater lake in the world. The island on which the monastery sits is also called Valaam, and is located in the northern part of the lake—north of the city of St. Petersburg and east of Russia’s border with Finland.

The Valaam monastery is one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s holiest and most isolated sites. You can go here and visit the monastery’s official website.

“The foundation of the Cloister is hidden in the mists of time, but the historical evidence we have allows us to state the the Monastery was founded at the dawn of Christianity in Russia,” the site states. Of special interest are audio files of the monastery all-male choir. Here is an especially beautiful one entitled The Troparion of the Nativity of Christ, recorded in 2004.

RT produced a somewhat similar documentary, entitled “Sacred Road,” which I posted several months ago. If you have not yet seen it, check it out here. It too is quite good.

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Lakotah Morning Thank-You Prayer

Russel Means

Russell Means, an Oglala Sioux, as a young leader of the American Indian Movement who helped resuscitate Indian nations throughout the hemisphere, had the privilege of learning traditional Lakota ways and knowledge from Elders who were steeped in these ancient teachings.

Russell died Octdober 22, 2012, at the age of 72. His wife, Pearl, carries on the task of passing along this timeless and timely wisdom to a world starved for balance and truth. The book is co-written with Bayard Johnson.

Foreword by Russel Means: The reason we decided to write this book is because The Trickster has completely tricked my people. The Trickster, or Iktomi, has come into our land, and completely colonized the Lakotah Nation. In February of this year I cut my hair in mourning. This was for my own people, who are dead, and are only play-acting at being Indians. Only a few even realize that they are colinized. The Heyoka, the one who lives backwards, has come into our land to try to get the people out of this death condition, but it's not working - the people are not listening. They are not learning.

My Great-Grandma Aggie, my Grandma Twinklestar, my Auntie Faith, my Mother, my Grandpa John Feather, and many others too numerous to name, all taught me many things. What they didn’t teach me was that as the oldest brother, I was supposed to pass this knowledge down to my younger brothers. I didn’t do it because I didn’t know. Not until I joined the American Indian Movement, AIM, did I realize this.

When I joined AIM was when I met the old people – those who were born in the latter part of the 1800s, had never been to school, and were raised by people who were born free. There was Pete Catches, Frank Fools Crow, Frank Kills Enemy, Henry Crow Dog, John Fire, Severt Young Bear Sr., Sally Red Owl, Mrs. Janis, and many old ladies on Rosebud and Pine Ridge whose names I never knew. They taught me and counseled me, all of them. They would all visit me and I would visit them.

So this book is about what I learned from these old people. This book is an introduction – a very sketchy introduction – to Matriarchy. The Indian way of life is very much misunderstood, and has almost disappeared from the Earth.

This book is a partial collection of everything I’ve come to know from my people – from my ancestors, from people who were born free, from my relatives, and from my own experience...as well as from other Indian Nations in the Western Hemisphere who all shared the same world view.


In Praise of Zazen (Zazen Wasan)

Zen Master Hakuin Ekaku

From the very beginning all beings are Buddha. Like water and ice, without water no ice, outside us no Buddhas.

How near the truth yet how far we seek, like one in water crying ‘I thirst!’ Like a child of rich birth wandering poor on this earth, we endlessly circle the six worlds.

The cause of our sorrow is ego delusion. From dark path to dark path we’ve wandered in darkness.

How can we be free from birth and death? The gateway to freedom is zazen samadhi — beyond exaltation, beyond all our praises, the pure Mahayana.

Upholding the precepts, repentance and giving, the countless good deeds, and the way of right living all come from zazen.

Thus one true samadhi extinguishes evils; it purifies karma, dissolving obstructions. Then where are the dark paths to lead us astray? The pure lotus land is not far away.

Hearing this truth, heart humble and grateful, to praise and embrace it, to practice its wisdom, brings unending blessings, brings mountains of merit.

And when we turn inward and prove our True-nature — that True-self is no-self, our own Self is no-self — we go beyond ego and past clever words.

Then the gate to the oneness of cause and effect is thrown open. Not two and not three, straight ahead runs the Way.

Our form now being no-form, in going and returning we never leave home. Our thought now being no-thought, our dancing and songs are the voice of the Dharma.

How vast is the heaven of boundless samadhi! How bright and transparent the moonlight of wisdom!

What is there outside us, what is there we lack? Nirvana is openly shown to our eyes. This earth where we stand is the pure lotus land, and this very body—the body of Buddha.


We Are All One: Full interview with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

"It is time for the world to remember that it belongs to God."

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi teacher and author. Since 2000 the focus of his writing and teaching has been on spiritual responsibility in our present time of transition, and an awakening global consciousness of oneness. More recently he has written about the feminine, the anima mundi (world soul), and spiritual ecology.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee was interviewed in Fall 2002 as part of an independent film project titled ONE The Movie. The project, an exploration of spirituality in the new millennium, began in 2002. The filmmakers interviewed over 100 people across the world. Asking the same thirty questions of all interviewees, from spiritual teachers to atheists to the homeless, they sought to produce and promote messages of mutual respect, understanding, love, and oneness. This is the full interview with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, excerpts of which were used in the final film. [Scroll down for video]


SELF REALISATION

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real state.

We usually identify ourselves in terms of name and form: “I am John, forty years old, 180 pounds. I have this job and live with that family, etc.” This is all quite natural.

But those fortunate few who are destined to look deeper into their own nature will discover a Self much different from what outward circumstances dictate. The eternal, free and perfect Self is always present within us, while the veils of body-identification prevent us from experiencing who, in fact, we really are. The Maharshi stresses this point again and again.

In the following extract from Gems from Bhagavan, we are reminded of this truth and inspired to realise the True Self.

♣ ♣ ♣

THE STATE WE CALL realisation is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything. If one has realised, he is That which alone is, and which alone has always been. He cannot describe that state. He can only be That. Of course we loosely talk of Self-Realisation for want of a better term.

That which is, is peace. All that we need do is to keep quiet. Peace is our real nature. We spoil it. What is required is that we cease to spoil it. If we remove all the rubbish from the mind, the peace will become manifest. That which is obstructing the peace must be removed. Peace is the only reality.


Doubt Not That We Shall Found The City

Hilary Norman

Doubt Not That We Shall Found The City” came to Hilary Norman as a clairaudient experience. She writes:

“The reception of these words was preceded by what may best be described as a spiritual experience. Not only spiritual, but earthed by visible remains. Alone in a Scottish glade, two summers ago, I became aware of an uncomfortable, and unaccountable, sense of suffocation. Accustomed to the often difficult results of having an empathic nature, I searched for a cause and found mounds, covered with moss and trefoil. I began to peel back this layer and only stopped when I felt myself again. A number of stones had lain beneath. Two were especially beautiful. One a fallen standing stone, its surface rippled with grey, cream and pale terra-cotta. Nearby a large crystal in the shape of an egg. Sat beside the latter, I heard a single note that seemed a part of it. I call it the Singing Stone. And its song was of a deep and ageless place where all endeavour is reconciled. Once raised, much later, the standing stone could be seen clearly. The shallow surface ripples formed a face, indiscernible at close quarters. An expression that blends the bleakness of the Easter Island statues with the calmness of certain Buddhas. And a few days later on a train to Perth, surrounded by Scottish boy cubs with packets of crisps, a voice began to speak to me.”


A Step Away from Peace

John Ptacek

Imagine that you are standing under a waterfall. The water pounds down on your head and shoulders and pins your feet to the ground. The steady rush of water feels good. At times, it feels ecstatic.

But often the force of the water is too much. It hurts. You want it to stop. You tilt your body slightly, hoping to find a gap in the sheets of water cascading down on you. You do, and for a moment the pain lessens. But then the full force of the water finds you again. The pain is intense. You feel trapped.

Now imagine that one day, for no reason you can think of, you step back from the waterfall. You had no idea there was a space behind you the whole time, a cavern cut into the rock that easily accommodates your frame. The relief you feel is immense. Your body feels light. You witness the water pouring down inches from your nose. The inches seem like miles. Now the water begins to flow from you. Tears of joy are streaming down your cheeks. You have stepped away from the steady rush of water, from the endless cycle of pleasure and pain you’d been experiencing for as long as you can remember.

We spend our lives immersed in a flood of thoughts, unaware that another dimension of consciousness is available to us. It is a dimension in which we come to know ourselves as something other than thinkers. By taking a step back, we become the witness of our thoughts. Of the millions of steps we’ve taken in our lives, this subtle but radical step may be the most important because it leads to a profound sense of peace.

We cannot think our way into this witnessing dimension. It only emerges when thought subsides, hopping like a bunny from the bushes when the coast is clear. The thoughts that pleaded for our attention gradually recede in the presence of our steady witnessing gaze. In this transformative moment we have stepped back from the flow of thought into the serene space of our awareness.

This space is not as mystical as it might seem. Haven’t we all experienced moments when we’ve witnessed the thoughts flowing through our minds without getting dragged into their current?


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