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Posts Tagged ‘ritual’

As we go ahead on our course in life’s spiritual voyage, we come to explore the multifaceted and multidimensional character of Spirit. We look at all of its diverse manifestations and forms, symbolic expressions, signs, and personal experiences. As we progress, as typified by our education, we dive into literatures that themselves present increasing degrees of complexity and nuance. We stretch as we go from our earliest studies of simple geometries to the more complex ones and then on to even more abstract mathematical imagining.

Often ignored in all this diversity and language and intellectual sophistication, is the lowly point. We hardly give the small dot on a page much attention ( unless, of course, it separates dollars from cents, pounds from pennies). So, what’s a point anyway?

In geometry, the “point” is an object in space  lacking in extent ( volume, area, length, etc.). In the Cartesian plot, it is  a unique position in space defined by paired values x and y. In any event, we spend most of our time thinking about trends, three points or more, and the geometric shapes. What, then, of the forgotten, lonely point?

In astrophysics, there is a vibrant dialogue that has been underway for some time on “gravitational singularity.” This also refers to a “point” where the “gravity well” runs so deep that objects, including light, enter but do not re-emerge.  Singularities are points of infinite density at the center of “black holes.” It is thought that our universe began as a singularity just prior to the “big bang.” In fact, you and I began life, in a sense, as biological singularities: single points that then became ever more complex through specialization of cells.

In turning to the matter of Sacred mysteries, there are striking parallels.  Out of the very simple comes complexity. From the still point at the center, humankind has evolved complex systems of expression to capture the naked singularity that cannot be so clearly seen, but that exerts such great power on our consciousness.

Alpha & Omega are points, not trends, not triangles, not cones, nor circles. Ultimately, we will all get to the point, and it will be a return.

Practically speaking, this meditation awakens a sense of the reason we meditate at all. To get to the point, the singularity, the origin and the destination.

I include here a relevant prayer and meditation from the Liturgy of the Order of the Christos [ A Celebration of the Cosmic Heart] incorporating poetry from a number of the Nag Hammadi texts.

Ω

Glory be to you, O Father.

Glory be to you, O Word.

Glory be to you, O Grace.

Glory be to you, O Mother.

Glory be to you , O Most Holy.

We give thanks to you, O Light.

In whom darkness does not dwell.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

Who are you O Holy One that comes out of Light?

What mouth can speak your name, or mind conceive your nature?

You hold the whole of creation within the circle of your care.

You are the Center,

The Circumference,

The Origination.

The Destination.

Maranantha, AMEN!

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Earlier today, I began to recite the word “beauty” repetitively, and the word did indeed stay with me all day.

A small variation on the practice is what I am calling “the next good phrase I read or hear.” Simply, as I read or have conversation with people from this moment forward tonight, I will pay attention to the next phrase I come across that inspires reflections about encountering the sacred.

I will then allow the word to seep into my thinking as before in a 5 minute meditation awaiting whatever random or quasi-random connections take place. After that, I will look for the next word and then the next. While there is no magic to how many times to do it, I will elect three as the number of repetitions for the exercise.

To get started, I have been meaning to begin reading the bestselling novel by the late Stieg Larsson, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” So, opening to the prologue, I begin reading ………………………….

In the last section of the third paragraph, I read: “… and the exchange between the two men seemed like a ritual attaching to a mystery…” What a beautifully crafted and intriguing phrase.

Removing it from the context of this novel, with all due respect to the novel’s author and with full intent to come back and continue reading ( now, even more-so, having discovered such elegant prose), I let my mind wander over this phrase to form patterns of  its own accord:

“A ritual attaching to a mystery.”

So much of spiritual life involves ritual of one form or another: acts of preparation, vesting, the use of incense, song, liturgy, readings and a very definite cadence.

In encountering the sacred, we always need to shift gears and, as distractable creatures of sense, mood and memory, the process is essential. Each of us has to find his or her own approach, but it always involves a process: preparation – some ritual action, and then hopefully an opening  to the miraculous.

Whether or not we get to the miraculous largely depends upon the depth and quality of the first two stages: preparation and ritual action.

When I arrive at the local ashram for yoga class, we begin by kneeling and then collectively bowing to one another, followed by all saying aloud – “namaste”. We then are guided to the asanas, one by one very slowly, from the “corpse” posture of deep relaxation to a sequence that seems to follow in a very orderly fashion.

In Tai Chi, (using the Yang family long form) the sequence of movements are prescribed and the goal is to smoothly execute each move and then just as smoothly to transition to the next. The smoothness or lack thereof is the critical issue and is the chief difference between the novice and the master.

At Mass, the opening prayers and call to worship are followed by readings and then the Gospel, and only then the Eucharist. Whatever the spiritual practice, there is some manifest form of the three-step process.

So, the ritual, as Larsson eloquently expresses it, attaches to a mystery.

The ritual involves a clearing, a time to make room for the indwelling and the opening up of the Spirit Within. So it is with all forms of prayer. Sacraments demand sacramentals ( the appurtenances and trappings, the table settings) just as mystery stories demand first the full development of place, time, and character development as the context for the main event that stimulate the reader’ s fascination. The reader is drawn in ever more deeply, until the story and the reader ( ideally) are one. We experience what key characters experience and we enter into a special time with no regard to the movement of the hands of the clock.

I find myself recalling the differences made by theologians between ordinary time ( Chronos)  and sacred time (Kairos). Symbol, ritual movement, and ritual word and chant (as well as dance) are all merely the stage setting, though indispensable. The preparation makes way for the arrival of the Holy, the mysterium tremendum, the feeling of integral communion with the One.

Now, back to this fascinating novel.

© The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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