Sunday, September 30, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

Our group's constructive spiritual remedy for countervailing forces is centering prayer at the start of our morning discussion.  This prayer helps collect, integrate, and recall all our varied mental/emotional situations during the previous week.   We groaned upon mention that a conservative evangelist had prayed, "God, let those who oppose Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court have confusion." 

The Soul provides an omnipresent heartful constructive response:
1.  (Day)  "Christian prayer is raising everyone's boat with your heart, getting buoyant above/outside of one's box."
2.  (Ruth) "Our synapses are opened up/benefited in Christian prayer by stepping back and not reacting."
3.  Check out the following comical dramatic sketch URL: "I'm not dead yet!" in the film, Monte Python and the Holy Grail.

The book clarifies one's experience of negativity in constructive prayer:
"Throughout the week of dialogues, the Archbishop said many times that we should not berate ourselves for our negative thoughts and emotions, that they are natural and unavoidable.  They are only made more intense, he argued, by the glue of guilt and shame when we think we should not have them.  The Dalai Lama agreed that human emotions are natural, but he did argue about whether they are unavoidable.  Mental immunity, he explained, is the way to avoid them.

"Through self-inquiry and meditation, we can discover the nature of the mind and learn to soothe our emotional reactivity.  This will leave us less vulnerable to the destructive emotions and thought patterns that cause us so much suffering.  This is the process of developing mental immunity."
For Next Week:  Please read "Fear, Stress, and Anxiety:  I would Be Very Nervous", p. 93-108.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

One thread of thoughts reflecting upon current events stood out from today's group discussion:
(Harry) - Radical narcissism is the root of evil, when you make yourself the center - God, e.g., the America First Trump policy of separating refugee immigrant parents from their children.
(Rose) - There was strong and compelling research that we come factory equipped for cooperation, compassion, and generosity." (p. 57)
(Judy) - We're also wired to survive, beyond compassion.
(Day) - It's good to take short breaks during the day to hold wonder, to ask "Where is God?"  and 'What is the whole?"  Strategic use of empathy and compassion can help us to get out of our crafty private strategic perceptual boxes looking at parts.
(Harry) - Other questions to contemplate are, "What is our strategy leading to?  Why does all I'm doing matter?"

For next week, please read chapter, "You Are a Masterpiece in the Making" (p. 78-92).

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

I was the first to arrive at 8:43am for our Sunday meeting!  Ten total participants gradually coalesced.  We discussed further into The Book of Joy:

Judy reflected about how to see God's will in the universal problem of life suffering and pain, e.g., if one had a 45 year old brother acquiring Parkinson's Disease, or the difficulty of adjusting from being an intellectual snob to take care of a mentally retarded child.  
Shock red Carolyn decided that it'll take a long time to understand The Book of Joy's message. She didn't buy into the idea of Nelson Mandela's 27 years long suffering in jail having spiritual value for him to become South Africa's first black president.  Rather, his tribulations were not necessary to learn and grow in God.
Day vividly agreed!  An existential atheist (like Jean Paul Sartre) would problem solve more convergently towards a solution for suffering, unlike trans-rational Christians.  (Please see the article -> How Christians approach the problem of evil)  

Rose questioned, how do we make those small choices to be kind and generous?  
Carla noted that the Dalai Lama winced when being kissed by Desmond Tutu on both cheeks.  Raised in the Tibetan monk tradition, he wasn't used to being touched.  Rather, physical touch is natural in relating with another human.  Joy comes from our interconnectedness and relationships, opposite of narcissistic self-care.  Right now, we have so many individualistic media channels that cater to one's own vantage that the skill of relating to another is being lost.
  For Next Week:  Read up through page 78.

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Spirituality Study Group notes

10 Sunday morning members started discussing a new book, entitled

On the cover is written,
"Two great spiritual masters share their own hard-won wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity.

The occasion was a big birthday. And it inspired two close friends to get together in Dharamsala for a talk about something very important to them. The friends were His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The subject was joy. Both winners of the Nobel Prize, both great spiritual masters and moral leaders of our time, they are also known for being among the most infectiously happy people on the planet.

From the beginning the book was envisioned as a three-layer birthday cake: their own stories and teachings about joy, the most recent findings in the science of deep happiness, and the daily practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives. Both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu have been tested by great personal and national adversity, and here they share their personal stories of struggle and renewal. Now that they are both in their eighties, they especially want to spread the core message that to have joy yourself, you must bring joy to others.

Most of all, during that landmark week in Dharamsala, they demonstrated by their own exuberance, compassion, and humor how joy can be transformed from a fleeting emotion into an enduring way of life."

Both Nobel Peace Prize winners have extraordinarily rich and complex personal histories. The complexity seemed untangled though.  These 'holy' leaders exuded simple honesty.

Highlights of our discussion:  
Kay saw the Dalai Lama at Safeco Field, in Seattle.  We all welcomed Carla who downloads the Father God universe through contemplationJoan noted that little children are just being in life, which can be relearned through contemplation.  Harry mentioned the importance of compassion in the Buddhist 8-fold path. Christian theologian Reinhold Neibuhr wrote that sorrow and joy comes from the same source.  Rose added that when we realize others suffering, our pain is lessened.

For next week, please read to page 64, "Lunch"!
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