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April 16, 2000
A Spiritual Life (KHB-001)
Cherag - Karim Henry Beetz

Readings and Sermon Notes: Cherag - Karim Henry Beetz

Hindu    Bhagavad Gita  Chapter 12  The Way Of Love

Arjuna:   Of those steadfast devotees who love you and those who seek you as the eternal formless Reality, who are the more established in yoga?

Sri Krishna:   Those who set their hearts on me and worship me with
unfailing devotion and faith are more established in yoga.
  As for those who seek the transcendental Reality, without name, without
form, contemplating the Unmanifested, beyond the reach of thought and of
feeling, with their senses subdued and mind serene and striving for the good
of all beings, they too will verily come unto me.
  Still your mind in me, still your intellect in me, and without doubt you
will be united with me forever.  If you cannot still your mind in me, learn
to do so through the regular practice of meditation.  If you lack the will
for such self-discipline, engage yourself in my work, for selfless service
can lead you at last to complete fulfillment.  If you are unable to do even
this, surrender yourself to me, disciplining yourself and renouncing the
results of all your actions.
  That devotee who looks on friend and foe with equal regard, who is not
buoyed up by praise nor cast down by blame, alike in heat and cold, pleasure
and pain, free from selfish attachments, the same in honor and dishonor,
quiet, ever full, in harmony everywhere, firm in faith - such a one is dear
to me.
  ......, and my love for them is very great.

Buddhist    From The Sermon at Benares

 Thus have I heard: at one time the Lord dwelt at Benares in the deer park
and there addressed the five monks as follows:
 "These two extremes, monks, are not to be practiced by one who has gone
forth from the world.  What are the two?  That conjoined with the passions
and luxury, vulgar and useless; and that conjoined with self-torture,
painful and useless.  Avoiding these two extremes the Tathagata has gained
the enlightenment of the Middle Path, which produces insight and knowledge,
and tends to calm, to higher knowledge, enlightenment, Nirvana.
 And what, monks, is the Middle Path which produces these effects?  It is
the noble Eightfold Way: namely, right view, right intention, right speech,
right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right
concentration.  This, monks, is the Middle Path of which the Tathagata has
gained enlightenment.
1. "Now this, monks, is the noble truth of pain: birth is painful, old age
is painful, sickness is painful, death is painful, sorrow, dejection, and
despair are painful.  In short, the five groups of grasping are painful.
2. "Now this, monks, is the noble truth of  the cause of pain: the craving,
which tends to rebirth, combined with pleasure and lust; namely the craving
for passion, the craving for existence, the craving for non-existence.
3. "Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of pain, the
cessation without a remainder of craving, the forsaking, release,
4. "Now this, monks, is the noble truth of the way that leads to the
cessation of pain: this is the noble Eightfold Way; namely, right views,
right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort,
right mindfulness, right concentration."
Thus spoke the Lord, and the five monks expressed delight and approval at
the Lord's utterance.

Zoroastrian        From Yasna 35

 This we would choose for ourselves, Ahura Mazda, that through beautiful
Asha we should think and say and do such acts as may be the best for both
worlds.  For rewards for the best acts we urge the taught and the untaught,
the ruling and the not ruling, to give peace and pasturage to the cow.
Truly we now devote and assign the power which is over us to Him who best
exercises power, namely to Mazda Ahura and to Asha Vahishta.
Whatever now a man or woman knows as real, then, if it is good, let him
achieve it for himself and teach it to others who may achieve it.  Sacrifice
and veneration for You, Ahura Mazda, we hold best and pasture for the cow.
That now we would achieve for You, and would teach as well as we are able.
Then, is the society of Asha, in the company of Asha, give to all who exist
the best nourishment for both worlds.
 These spoken words, Ahura Mazda, we would now proclaim with best thought
for Asha.  Thee now we establish for ourselves as their revealer and
teacher.  And for the sake of Asha and Vohu Manah, O Ahura, praises now upon praises, words now upon words, sacrifices now upon sacrifices!

Taoist        From the teachings of Lao Tzu
*Hua Hu Ching - Brian Walker (Trans.)
   ** The Way of Life (Tao te Ching) - Witter Bynner

I teach the Integral Way of uniting  with the great and
 mysterious Tao.
My teachings are simple; if you try to make a religion or science of them,
they will elude you.
Profound yet plain, they contain the entire truth of the universe.
Those who wish to know the whole truth take joy in doing
the work and service that comes to them.
Having completed it, they take joy in cleansing and
feeding themselves
Having cared for others and for themselves, they then turn to
the master for instruction.
This simple path leads to peace, virtue, and abundance.*

Can you hold the door of your tent wide to the firmament?
Can you, with the simple stature of a child, breathing nature,
Become, notwithstanding,  a man?
Can you continue befriending with no prejudice, no ban?
Can you, mating with heaven, serve as the female part?
Can your learned head take leaven
>From the wisdom of your heart?
If you can bear issue and nourish it's growing,
If you can guide without claim or strife,
If you can stay in the lead of men
Without their knowing,
You are at the core of life. **

With all this talking, what has been said?
The subtle truth can be pointed at with words,
but it can't be contained by them.
Take time to listen to what is said without words,
to obey the law too subtle to be written, to worship
the unnamable and to embrace the unformed.
Love your life.
Trust the Tao.
Make love with the invisible subtle origin of the universe,
and you will give yourself everything you need.
The breath of the Tao speaks, and those who are in
harmony with it hear quite clearly.*

Baha''i       From the Last Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha' (Baha'u'
  [quoted in Baha'u'llah and the New Era by J.E. Esslemont]

"O ye beloved of the Lord!  In this sacred Dispensation, conflict and
contention are in no wise permitted.  Every aggressor deprives himself  of
God's grace.  It is incumbent upon everyone
to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straight forwardness and
sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they
friends or strangers.  So intense must be the spirit of love and loving
kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true
brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them.  For universality
is of God and all limitation earthly..."

"Wherefore, O my loving friends!   Consort with all the peoples, kindreds,
and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness , uprightness,
faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness, that all the world of
being may be filled with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Baha', that
ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the world and the
darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may
give way to the Light of Unity."

Jewish     Proverbs  Chapter 16  1-9 & 16-20   Tanakh  Jewish Pub Soc'y

 A man may arrange his thoughts,
 But what he says depends on the Lord.
 All the ways of a man seem right to him,
 But the Lord probes motives.
 Entrust your affairs to the Lord,
 And your plans will succeed.
 The Lord made everything for a purpose,
 Even the wicked for an evil day.
 Every haughty person is an abomination to the Lord;
 Assuredly, he will not go unpunished.
 Iniquity is expiated by loyalty and faithfulness,
 And evil is avoided through fear of the Lord.
 When the Lord is pleased with a man's conduct,
 He may even turn his enemies into allies.
 Better a little with righteousness
 Than a large income with injustice
 A man may plot out his course,
 But it is the Lord who directs his steps.

 How much better to acquire wisdom than gold;
 To acquire understanding is preferable to silver.
 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
 He who would preserve his life watches his way.
 Pride goes before ruin,
 Arrogance, before failure.
 Better to be humble and among the lowly
 Than to share spoils with the proud.
 He who is adept in a matter will achieve success
 Happy is he who trusts in the Lord.

Christian       The Beatitudes  Matthew 5  1-12  Translation from the
   Aramaic  Neil Douglas-Klotz: Prayers of the Cosmos

 -Tuned to the Source are those who live by breathing Unity;
  their "I can" is included in God's.

 -Blessed are those in emotional turmoil; they shall be united
 inside by love.

-Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within;
 they shall receive physical vigor and strength from the universe.

-Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for physical justice;
 they shall be surrounded by what is needed to sustain their bodies.

-Blessed are those who, from their inner wombs, birth mercy;
 they shall feel it's warm arms embrace them.

-Aligned with the One are those whose lives radiate from a
 core of love; they shall see God everywhere.

-Blessed are those who plant peace each season; they shall be
 named the children of God.

-Blessings to those who are dislocated for the cause of justice;
 their new home is the province of the universe.

-Renewal when you are reproached and driven away by the
 clamor of  evil on all sides, for my sake...

-Then, do everything extreme, including letting your ego disappear,
 for this is the secret of claiming your expanded home in the universe.

Islam    The Five Pillars of Islam

Every action done with the awareness that it fulfills the will of God is
considered an act of worship in Islam.  But, it is the specific acts of
worship termed the Pillars of Islam which provide the framework of Muslim
spiritual life.

· Testimony of Faith (Kalima)

"I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and that Muhammad is His
servant and messenger".

Qur'an    Sura 112

 "Say: He is God,
 The One and Only,
 God, the Eternal, Absolute;
 He begetteth  not,
 Nor is He begotten;
 And there is none
 Like unto Him".
·Prayer (Salat)
 Prayers are prescribed five times a day as a duty towards God.

 Qur'an    Sura 11 - 114

 And establish regular prayers
 In the two parts of the day
 And at the approaches of the night;

·Fasting (Sawm)

Fasting during the month of Ramadan - abstentions from
dawn to sunset.

Qur'an    Sura 2 - 183 - 185 (abridged)

O you who believe!  Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for
those before you, that you May learn self-restraint.  Fast for a fixed
number of days.. Ramadan  is the month in which was sent down the Qur'an as a guide to mankind.So every one of you who is present during that month should spend it in fasting.

· Almsgiving (Zakat)

Muslims whose financial condition is above a specified minimum is to pay an
annual, proportionate contribution to the needy, travelers, new converts, or
the debt ridden.

Qur'an     Sura  2   277

 Those who believe,
 And do deeds of righteousness,
 And establish regular prayers
 And pay the poor rate,
 Will have their reward
 With their Lord:
· Pilgrimage (Hajj)
A pilgrimage to the Ka'bah in Makkah, once in a lifetime is required of
every Muslim who is physically and financially able.

Qur'an    Sura 3   96-97

The first house of worship appointed for men was that at Bakka (Mecca), full
of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds.  Pilgrimage thereto is a
duty men owe to Allah, for those who can afford the journey.

 Sermon Notes    So, what then describes a "spiritual life" (or lives)?

One excellent description is from Lama Surya Das (quoted in the spring 2000
Sounds True flyer):
"The spiritual life is living for something greater than just oneself.
Anyone can and must fill in for themselves what that "something" is.  Some
live for higher consciousness, or for wisdom and enlightenment.  Some
spiritual practitioners live for others through love and compassion; some
live for God.  Others serve God by serving humanity - seva in Sanskrit."

I'd like to comment on three paths that the lama has mentioned, each of
which bears risks to the true intent as well as satisfaction of it:
· The renounciate may choose the search for enlightenment, to awaken in the
One Consciousness; Sat Chit Ananda.  He may seek this goal on behalf of all
sentient beings, a gift to the world. But he may also "miss the mark" as
Kabir describes (Robert Bly The Kabir Book  #37):

The spiritual athlete often changes his clothes,
and his mind remains gray and loveless.

He sits inside a shrine room all day, so that the
Guest has to outdoors and praise the rocks.

Or he drills holes in his ears, his beard grows enormous and matted,. and he
looks like a goat.

He goes out into the wilderness, strangles his impulses,
and makes himself into a eunuch.

He shaves his skull and puts his robe in an orange vat;
he reads the Gita, and becomes a terrific talker.

Says Kabir, you are in a hearse going to the land of death,
bound hand and foot.

· The one who serves humankind may give a great gift if he acts as a conduit
for the Divine, claiming no fruit from his action.  From Tagore:  I slept
and dreamt that life was joy,

         I woke and saw that life was service,
         I acted, and lo, service was joy.

His risk is the sin of pride, the inflated self image. "I am so loving, I
will save your world".   Fr. Richard Rohr  "I became a priest for all the
wrong reasons".   Ghandi   "A charitable act performed in this life in the
hope of reward in the next, is an obscenity".

· The one who lives through love and compassion for others and God
may be a member of the spiritual hierarchy, known or unknown.  In the world
but not of it.

Ref: Ox Herding Pictures _ Final picture "Return to the Marketplace"..

Unrecognized, everything is the same as before except that the willows bend
and blossom as he passes.
Risk is that the "love" for individuals may be a vehicle for control
and ego gratification and/or an escape from finding one's own center and the
love for may be implemented through religion - a bridge to the Divine, and
the individual may get stuck on the bridge.

All this being said, we might again remember the vital importance of WAKING
UP  or as Qigong guru Ken Cohen observes:

"To live a spiritual life means to discover the innermost message of the heart and to live it fully and courageously."  

As Lawrence Kushner  beautifully puts it,  is 

"A life lived in the continuous presence of God".

From: Thomas Merton The Wisdom of the Desert  his sayings of the fourth
 century Christian fathers who sought solitude and contemplation
 in the deserts of the Near East.

A Brother asked one of the elders: "What good thing shall I do and have life
thereby?"  The old man replied: "God alone knows what is good.  However, I
have heard it said that someone inquired of Father Abbot Nisteros the great,
friend of Abbot Anthony, asking: What good work shall I do and that he
replied:  Not all works are alike.  For Scripture says that Abraham was
hospitable and God was with him.  Elias loved solitary prayer, and God was
with him.  And David was humble, and God was with him.  Therefore, whatever
you see your soul to desire according to God, do that thing, and you shall
keep your heart safe.

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