Keeping with the approach we've taken so far, which has regarded Christian spirituality as bringing the human spirit into governance by the Holy Spirit, we recognize the importance of spiritual disciplines that help to focus the activities of the human spirit in the directions generally emphasized by the Holy Spirit. In short, we need to do what we can do to "co-operate" with the Spirit; without initiatives on our part, the Spirit can only knock on the doors of the heart and mind, but little more.
Session 15 examined disciplines related to awareness, and this conference will focus on forming our freedom in the ways of love. Later sessions will focus on the role of thinking, feeling and beliefs, which have to do with our exercise of reason.
As with the previous session (and the next few to come as well), I refer you to a chapter in your resource, Pathways to Serenity, Chapter 9, which deals with the topic of "Right Desires." There you will find a fairly detailed listing of exercises to facilitate renunciation from harmful behaviors while strengthening the will in the practice of benevolence. Notice how short prayers and affirmations are used unto these ends. It takes a thought of some kind to move the will in a particular direction (which tells us something about the interplay between reason and free-will).
Session 15 was about living more consciously, and this one is about loving more consciously. The invitation is to be alert to opportunities to practice loving awareness and benevolence all through the day. God is always present and always loving, and when we adopt similar attitudes in awareness and intentionality (being here now in love), we become more able to realize our destiny as co-creators with the Father and co-redeemers with Christ in the Spirit. Without this kind of conscious commitment, however, we default to our ordinary, habitual states of attention, which are subject to the insidious influences of the false self.
I can speak from experience, here, in sharing the difference living more consciously can make. Loving affirmations and short prayers help to open my mind and heart to opportunities that would otherwise be missed. A simple prayer like "Show me how to love, Lord," places me in right relationship with another, and removes the tensions that come from the usual false self agenda to "get something" or have the relationship "go a certain way." The "way" it needs to go is something I do not need to control; let love lead the way. And since love is its own reward, there is only gain when I choose to live in this stance.
Reflection and Discussion
1. What questions or comments do you have from this session and from Chapter 9 of Pathways to Serenity?
2. Share an experience of "loving consciously." What helps you to do so?
In thinking about the question about why we don't respond more often to the
presentations, I have to acknowledge my own hesitation to put such deeply personal beliefs and thoughts out on the internet with little idea as to who is in the group.
I would be more inclined to respond to the presenter, one on one, or another class member, and I know that is impractical in time and numbers. It has nothing to do with giving the Spirit or my own study priority in my life. It is the format that brings the reluctance. We all have different gifts, and this format calls for some comfort with the expression of writing our thoughts. For some they are thoughts that are not yet formed.
I think we may have to trust that many of those signed up for the class may well be having an inner dialogue with the material and reflecting on what is available.
I don't think the success is determined by how many write and send their thoughts to others. After all, the Spirit works on another level deep within us. Relationship is an important path to bringing that to awareness, but it can also be relationship with God that helps to manifest it in our lives. Not everything about relationship is linear or only humanly realized.
Conscious and intentional loving is one of the great challenges of our lives. This is sacred stuff!
I find I tend to get intimidated when I see people writing using very sophiscated terminology and I have been reading the mystics for years as well as Van Kaam and Muto and and have long search for my own spiritual niche but tend to become quiet when the language is so enlightened and sophiscated that I don't feel as comfortable w/ my own simplicity and quiet search. I feel threatened that it isn't as intelligent or as real as the others on the internet so silence is easier and safer. BUt it doesn't mean that I haven't found The course everything I had hoped it to be. Merton and so many of the mystics have such wonderful fruits to teach us all and the graces we get just from reading all this is impossible to measure as we search for our relationship w/ God. I find sometimes being too preachy gets me in trouble or I stick my foot in my mouth so this is also another reason for silence. I 'll let the profs do the teaching and add my 2 cents when I feel it is OK and worthwhile Hope you all understand. Not that I'm not willing to contribute but just hesitant.... Cathy
Sounds good, Cathy.
I think the surprising thing was how few views some threads had, which meant that people weren't turning on notifications for discussion points or even checking to see if anything was going on. That's OK, too, as for many, I think reading and reflecting on the conferences are enough. It IS very nice when people do take a risk and share, however, and I think it helps to draw out more fully themes and points from the conferences.
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