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Daily Practices for Truth's Open Mind

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Daily Practices for Truth's Open Mind

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Daily Practices for Truth's Open Mind

  1. 1. Your Spiritual Practice
  2. 2. The Need of Spirit & Community If it is true that there is a Spirit or a God-like force holding all- pervasive influence in the world, then the practice of listening for those Forces and acting in that Flow could certainly be the most important factor of our lives, bar none. In the predominant spiritual view, man does not stand alone. Humankind, it is said. is in need of help in its endeavors. This includes the lone individual in the face of worldly views. We need, and are best supported by spiritual community.
  3. 3. Spiritual Practice is best sustained by strong beliefs and spiritual community…
  4. 4. More than anything else, we are truly what we practice… Daily Spiritual Practices often include …
  5. 5. Prayer, Meditation and Contemplation
  6. 6. Prayer The Prophets who walked this earth have said that They were the revealers of God’s word, without edits, censorship, suppression or concealment of the holy Spirit’s wishes. What prayer, then, (if this is true) could be purer than the Godly words They spoke? The Prophets have asked us to pray as They prescribed, in the words of Spirit’s Chosen Mouthpiece This is the prayer and the readings that I choose to bind my soul most greatly to… The best prayer is … to give heart and soul to Something Greater... to be wholly thine.. "If one friend loves another, is it not natural that he should wish to say so? Though he knows that that friend is aware of his love, does he still not wish to tell him of it?
  7. 7. It is true that God knows the wishes of all hearts; yet “The impulse to pray is a natural one, springing from man's love to God." Abdu'l-Bahá "It takes the whole man to pray, and prayer affects the entire man in its gracious results. As the whole nature of man enters into prayer, so also all that belongs to man is the beneficiary of prayer. All of man receives benefits in prayer. "The whole man must be given to God in praying. The largest results in praying come to him who gives himself, all of himself, all that belongs to himself, to God. This is the secret of full consecration, and this is a condition of successful praying, and the sort of praying which brings the largest fruits." "The entire man must pray." Edward M. Bounds; The Essentials of Prayer
  8. 8. Meditation "The meditative faculty is akin to the mirror; if you put it before earthly objects it will reflect them. Therefore if the spirit of man is contemplating earthly subjects he will be informed of these.”* But if the mind is turned towards the heavenly realities, the wisdom of the heart will be enlarged. The simplest form of meditation is that of concentration on the breath, an object, image or mantra. We sit quietly with focused attention. When extraneous thoughts emerge, the meditator simply watches them passively, letting them go by and calmly returning to the chosen focus. If you find yourself engaging other thoughts that may emerge, simply return without recrimination to the passive concentration of thought... In time, this practice tends to still the mind, allowing a greater awareness and clarity to emerge. Such conditions of mindfulness grow into your everyday life, as the practice begins to take hold of your inner life. " May we indeed become mirrors reflecting the heavenly realities, and may we become so pure as to reflect the stars of heaven." * Paris Talks p. 175 by Ab'dul Baha
  9. 9. The Words of the Prophet: Readings and Contemplation as Practice They say that prayer is speaking to God, and meditation is listening. In adding contemplation, we can do both together... In reading the words of the holy Prophets, I feel I get the best of both prayer and meditation. In reading the Prophets’ prayers, I am praying, but am also in contemplation of the words as I read them. In reading and hearing the words of the Masters that are so much greater than I, I am brought to Higher inspiration from a much Greater Voice than mine. These actions embody contemplation, prayer, and meditation as well… The Prophets have said that They are the Divine Intercessors between God and man, and that the strongest prayer is that spoken in their name and in their words…
  10. 10. “Self– forgetting”, Humility, Giving, Service and Receiving We become "self- forgetful" when we focus on “Something Bigger” or “outside’ ourselves, letting go of self– will and following in the ”flow” or in service to "Something Greater"* than what we see. This is also the practice of humility, a necessary component of the open mind. Humility is knowing that we are not the “be– all, end– all” of creation. Doing something for others daily is an important spiritual practice. Some of us also need to practice receiving. Being willing to receive the love, care, and help of others is difficult for many of us. Have I done something for another today? Have I asked for the help I may need as well?
  11. 11. Self- forgetting” is an element of all the spiritual practices. We must forget ourselves to take the actions of a prescribed practice.
  12. 12. “The 'Master Key' to self-mastery is self- forgetting. The road to the palace of life is through the path of renunciation." — 'Abdu'l-Bahá: star of the West, Vol. XVII, p. 348
  13. 13. ”Self– inventory” : Practicing the Virtues & Striving The practice of spirituality is the practice of virtue and the growth in practice and ability. It behooves us to consider not only what virtues in us may need special work or focus, but also what blocks us and how we can further our development.
  14. 14. ”Self– inventory” : A Re- Check of our Purpose & the Basis Of our Lives… Daily ”self– inventory” is a vital part of the spiritual pathway. We are enjoined to regularly take stock of our thoughts and actions, assessing what we might change. This does not guarantee the open mind, but it can help to keep one’s mind open to change and growth, regularly “pruning” the ego to a manageable size. And that ego is the major “roadblock” between us and truth. Especially in our times of many challenges; it could be most valuable to think: ”Am I truly open to the workings of Spirit within me, or could there be something I may be missing? Under pressure, we often delve deeper into the truth of the heart. Rather than wait for crisis. looking inward is a great regular practice for meditation. Wouldn’t it be a good thing for us to ask ourselves, perhaps in daily quiet time, “Am I truly open to all that I can be?”
  15. 15. Going Deeper—Opportunity’s Window Have you ever thought you might be missing something big in life’s focus on the material, mundane and daily needs? When we get that feeling, it’s vital to respond, taking the actions of contemplation or search— for without some action on our part, the "window" of our interest will likely close again. Only doing something can keep us in touch with that awakening. Not to decide or act is actually a decision to do nothing, diverting further examination. Any “window of opportunity“, or of the mind’s openness to challenges may easily or shortly close again, and it may not open again for years, if ever. “God is with those who persevere.” — The Qur'an
  16. 16. Tending Body, Mind and Spirit: Healthy Self– Nurturing Crisis facilitates change and investigation, but oddly enough, these can also be assisted when one feels safe in life and takes time to do things that are self– nurturing. The truth can be as kind as it sometimes seems cruel, when we bring it to ourselves in a kindly way. We can be kind to ourselves in taking time to absorb reality slowly, quietly and generously, pairing this with the things that comfort us. We can work hard on a problem, but its often when we “stop and put our feet up” that what we weren’t seeing will “dawn” on us! When we practice “self– kindness”, doing healthy things to relax, maintain and heal mind or body,
  17. 17. we are essentially taking time to “stretch” in heart and spirit. It becomes easier, then for us to open to previously unseen realities or opportunities and enhance our personal and spiritual development. Practicing Faith: Trusting and Believing… It takes faith to search our hearts To see what we are shutting out. The truth can be as kind as it sometimes seems cruel. We can be kind to ourselves in letting truth in as we become ready . Being kind to ourselves makes us more able to let truth in... —Can we do it-- for Ourselves & for our World?
  18. 18. We practice faith when we believe that things will work out, That a greater Hand than ours is doing works of healing… When we believe that there ARE answers out there, we are practicing faith. When we act “as if” there is something Bigger than ourselves, Something, perhaps, with our best interests at heart, we are practicing faith.
  19. 19. Openness and Faith: “I Don’t Know”—But Something Bigger than me Knows! A closed mind has little faith that there could be answers beyond what it has already decided it knows. An open mind believes that wherever truth leads it can be reconciled, and that whatever happens with that will be okay. Sometimes when we don’t know the truth of something, we can find out more by choosing a path that we believe may be true— then we “act as if” it is true, trusting that results will reveal a clearer way. Being willing to let go of one’s own ideas and live without answers, or even take on a foreign belief system for a time shows real humility and faith that are necessary aspects of the open mind. The gift is that these grow and expand as one continues to practice them.
  20. 20. Seeking, Acting, Creating & Service In the best of scenarios, our prayer, meditation and contemplation spurs us on to greater action in truth- seeking, the virtues, more practicing of spiritual values, and service to the greater Good. For any major movement to occur, there must be some action on our part. Our human accessibility to let in certain truths seems to have its moments, its upsets and its limits... Without action or some kind of commitment to deeper investigation, time itself closes that "window of opportunity", and no one knows when it may open again.
  21. 21. Service to Others and the Cause of Spirit How lucky we are to be in touch with Spirit and the vital needs of Unity and Spirit for our world. But it is not enough that we ourselves are finding some healing. Every spiritual path includes the sharing of that spirituality in the teaching of others, and bringing them along to teach in their turn. Our study, prayer and meditation is meant, in part, to assist us in the conveying of our learning to the genuine seekers who put forth a hearing ear. The old ways of bullying or pressure has turned away and harmed many kindly hearts; the best of spiritual sharing is in seeking out the thirsting souls who seek the closer walk with Spirit’s Goodly ways.
  22. 22. Routines, Repetition, and Spiritual Development Someone once asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama 'If you had only one word to describe the secret of happiness and of living a fulfilling life, what would that word be?' Without hesitating the Dalai Lama replied, 'Routines.'"*1
  23. 23. Spiritual practice involves repetition and routines. A great power of prayer lies in doing it on a regular, continuous basis. It calls for regularity, becoming “…like the dripping of a faucet on the ground of our hearts." *2 Our culture has looked upon repetition or routine as drudgery, but the word "routine" originally meant "a route or course of travel" and has only recently come to mean "ordinary" or mundane.* In the movie Smoke, Auggie, the manager of a cigar store, has a collection of over 4,000 photographs of his shop, having taken a picture of it every morning.. One of his customers tells him, "They're all the same." But one realizes it’s not really so. When you look at the details of light, weather, people, etc. there is an astonishing variety in repetition.
  24. 24. Do you associate repetition and routine with boredom? Do you find it difficult to keep doing the same spiritual practice over and over again, growing irritated with the process or thinking you'll progress faster by some other method? Let us remind ourselves that "each moment in the ever-repeated pattern is, by virtue of the repetition, always new; whatever comes around again in the great cycle of things is always fresh." *4 We can make our practice fresh with a fresh attitude and intention, and as we do so, we are practicing virtue, detachment and acceptance…
  25. 25. Devotional life is deepened by repetition and routine. It is the nature of repetition that it soothes like a lullaby. It is often calming and introspective, as in the use of prayer beads, mantras and similar routines. A simple phrase repeated silently or aloud can be simple informal words such as "Come into me Lord," "Peace," “Serenity” or "Light." The repetition of it brings its truth deeper into the soul…
  26. 26. Routines are one of the factors leading to a long life. *5 Marc Lesser, coach, entrepreneur, and Zen teacher writes that: "A routine is something that we do regularly, without questioning or planning. Once established, routines require little effort, tracking, or decision making; by definition they become a consistent part of our lives." Viewed this way, routines reduce stress and help our lives move more smoothly. This is also true with the devotional life…
  27. 27. Spiritual Practice in a Nutshell….
  28. 28. Spiritual Practice must best include…  Spiritual community  Prayer  Spiritual Readings  Meditation and Contemplation  Introspection, Self– inventory and Striving  Upkeep of Body, Mind & Spirit  Teaching, Sharing & Service to others
  29. 29. May your Spiritual Practice endure and thrive! Visit our NEW Pages for Unity and Spirit at UnityAndSoul.com/ SpiritTop.com Sweet, Soulful and Streamlined UnityAndSoul.com/ Notes: *1 From Less, by Marc Lesser, coach, entrepreneur, and Zen teacher. *2 (Benedictines)  And you can bet that has a lot to do with commercialism too! *3 Buddhist author Norman Fischer Sailing Home *5 Seen in the film documentary How to Live Forev

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