Category Archives: Spiritual Renewal

Spiritual Rules for Life

You shall be Holy to me… God said to Moses, Come up to me…”
Exodus 22:30-24:12

In this portion the translation of the title is ” spiritual rules”. The chapter sets out a series of rules; Moses prepares to detail them to the Israelites.

They are referred to as “mitzvot” and number 613. Interestingly 365 are “thou shall not” corresponding to the days of the year and 248 are “thou shall” corresponding to the number of joints in the body. Symbolizing that living these laws allows us to serve our Higher Power with all of our body and soul, all the time.

The laws are about worshiping other gods, kashrut (foods allowed to be eaten and those forbidden), business ethics and treatment of animals. God also provides an angel to protect the Israelites from their enemies, and warns the Israelites not to worship other gods.

Moses goes up to Mount Sinai to meet with God for 40 days and 40 nights. This all happens in addition to receiving the Ten Commandments.

Why does God beckon us to come? In Spiritual Renewal, we are seeking to be closer to the Sunlight of The Spirit, our souls are yearning for this relationship and it is given to us if we simply come to it.

What is it to be holy? It isthe result of doing the work and living by the “laws”. It is beyond human understanding and is there for us if we are willing.

It is the path of living more from our heart and less from our mind.

One of the things that spiritual renewal offers the individual is a sense of passion about living; the bonus is that it comes through humility.

ANGER

The truly humble person is unable to feel anger.

Sure, we get angry. Who doesn’t? But anger gets in the way of recovery and renewal. It’s all-consuming, a kind of undifferentiated negative energy that gets in our way. Anger colors everything. It immobilizes us. We get stuck in it. Anger is one of the many things that led us to our addiction.
If we can root out each of our addictions, one at a time, we might be able to find out how we got here in the first place. Not only will such a process of self-inquiry help, but without anger, it may no longer hurt.
In recovery, we transform our anger into humility-and bow our heads before God. Stop blaming yourself or those you love. Without humility, we can’t do Step Seven. What’s humility anyway? Simply a recognition that we’re not so great and that God is greater. That’s why we ask God to help us in the process of removing our shortcomings. In working our Twelve Step Program, we are partners with God, only God is a little more so.
When you feel yourself getting angry, look at yourself in a mirror. Think over why others may be angry at you. It’s a humbling experience.

Spiritual Faith

“And Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I instead of God? You intended evil but God meant it for good…” Genesis 50:19-20

Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith

In the final portion of the Book of Genesis, Jacob passes away, leaving his sons to fear that with their father gone their brother, Joseph, will take vengeance upon them. They feared he will be revengeful for the wrong they did him many years ago when they kidnapped him and sold him into slavery. The brothers approach Joseph and beg him to do them no harm. Joseph is taken aback. “Am I instead of God?” he asks rhetorically, “You intended evil for me but God meant it for good.”

The words with which Joseph reassures his brothers are quite telling. Certainly, he could have said something to the effect that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” But Joseph communicated a message far more profound than that. Not only did he have no desire for revenge, he would not even concede that his brothers had actually succeeded in doing anything to him for which he should feel wronged. He allows that they had intended evil for him – for which they are presumably accountable before a Higher Power, but that is none of his concern, that is between them and God.

He explains the reason for his lack of resentment: a Higher Power was in control all along and his brothers had done nothing to him outside of the Universe’s plan. To be sure, the day his brothers sold him as a slave, Joseph’s life was changed forever. But there was a plan for him to come to Egypt, to become Pharaoh’s viceroy and to save his brothers in time of famine. That was not what his brothers had in mind, but for Joseph that was irrelevant. Life, as he saw it, was not a result of anything that any human being could ever have done to him, but rather, the culmination of God’s beneficent plan.

Our spiritual journey is best traveled lightly and we can scarcely afford to be weighed down by such useless, heavy baggage.

If we attribute to the actions of others any power to define our lives, then we submit ourselves to the tyranny of people, places and things rather than surrendering to the loving care of the Sunlight of The Spirit. Even when there have been people in our lives who have intended us harm, our faith tells us that none of that could have ever derailed our lives from The Universe’s plan.

To state it succinctly, to carry a resentment is to grant power to a created being; to truly let go of resentment means to grant power only to a Higher Power.

Spiritual Trust

Abraham had spiritual trust and followed the direction of his Higher Power.

“I am a shield to you. I will establish my covenant between Me and you. Walk before Me and be pure.” Genesis 13:1 – 17:2

Abraham has made a decision to turn his life and his will over to the care of God, and for this God has made another covenant with humankind. The promise goes beyond protecting the land and the waters where humans live, it will now extend to the people who walk before their Higher Power.

A Spiritual Renewal awaits those who leave idol worship and sinful ways for the purity of accepting God’s will in their lives. Abraham is whole-hearted in his devotion, living honestly. He stands before the Sunlight of the Spirit with a faith ready to journey to new places believing he is not alone.

This new covenant is one of the soul and goes beyond time and space, it connects with his past and secures his future. It measure all that he does, he lives it in all of his behavior, those he loves as well as those he hardly knows. He believes that his Higher Power works through people he meets, so greets all with love, admiration and respects. It insures his part of the covenant.

We all have different relationships with God. Sometimes where we are and what we are doing forces us to reconsider who we are and what we have become, all in relationship to God. Faith comes harder than belief. We can begin with little steps. Let The Sunlight of the Spirit’s presence be a shield about you until you are ready to be a shield for others.

Into your hand I entrust my spirit. Psalm 31.6

HIGHER POWER

The use of the phrase Higher Power—his, hers, yours, or mine—rather than the word God, reminds people in recovery of tolerance of individual differences in religious belief and spiritual inclination. The most basic understanding of the concept “Higher Power” within RECOVERY is that it is that which keeps me free of my addiction. In a sense, it is the ultimate pragmatic concept of God. For people in recovery who have tried and failed time after time to stay abstinent without a spiritual solution, who have tried and failed after using any one of innumerable techniques, that which finally does keep one away from substances or addictive actions becomes a “Higher Power”.
A psychiatrist tells this story:
A person in recovery was telling a friend that on awakening each morning he prays to his Higher Power for another day of recovery, and that each night before retiring he thanks that Power for having granted him a day of recovery.

“How do you know it was your Higher Power who gave you the day of recovery?” the friend asked.

“It had to be,” the man responded.. “My HP was the only one whom I had asked.”

FORGIVENESS

In his book “Is Human Forgiveness Possible?” Theologian John Patton examines the New Testament story, in which Peter asks Jesus of Nazareth of forgiveness:

“Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?” And Jesus answers: “No, not seven times; I say seventy times seven times.” (Matt. 18:21–22)

Patton comments: Peter’s question seems to say, “Please give me a rule so I don’t have to keep dealing with this. How can I know when enough is enough? I want to know what to do instead of having to come to terms with the history of our relationship.” Jesus’ response to the question says in effect, “I am unwilling to give you a way out of a continuing relationship to your brother.”

For the opposite of “resentment” is forgiveness, recognized by centuries of spiritual thinkers as “the endpoint of human life.” Forgiveness is “given,” and not only in English; the French say “par-downer,” the Spanish “per-donar.” That is because, in the words of D. M. Dooling, a student of mythic spirituality: “Forgiveness belongs to the divine. It is God’s act: something other, something that is not ours; and unless we can acknowledge this, the word is only ‘a noise we make with our mouths.’ ”

What became clear to me from this exchange was the following:
When I am making an amends it is not forgiveness that I am seeking, but the act of doing what is right and cleaning my side of the street. If the other person chooses to forgive me, that is a bonus. Forgiveness ultimately is between my Higher Power and me. Just like a wrong I perceive to have been committed against me; I may forgive it, but the real forgiveness is not up to me. It is between the Power of the Universe and the transgressor.

Forgiveness is not ours to give, but ours to receive. We cannot create it; we can be certain only that it is beyond us, in the sense of beyond our control, beyond our ability to will it into existence.

Excerpt From: Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. “The Spirituality of Imperfection.”

Resentment and Anger

“A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.
“Have you forgiven the Nazis?” he asked his friend.
“Yes.”
“Well, I haven’t. I’m still consumed with hatred for them.”
“In that case,” said his friend gently, “they still have you in prison.”

Resentment is the poison of the spiritual life. The word means, literally, “feeling again,” in the sense of “feeling backward”: the emphasis is on a clinging to the past; a harping on it that becomes mired in it. Resentment goes over and over an old injury: revisiting the hurt, the powerlessness, the rage, the fear, the feeling of being wronged. Scraping the scab off the wound, resentment relishes anew its pain; it is the particular kind of memory that reinforces the vision of self-as-victim. This vision is the antithesis of spirituality, for spirituality begins with recognition of our own imperfection. Focusing on the past faults and failings of others blinds us to reality of our own present defects and shortcomings.

It was this peril—the danger of cutting ourselves off from the spiritual resources that offer the only possible healing of our own imperfection—which the desert genius Ponticus cautioned against in explaining the proper use of anger. He noted that resentment—clinging to misdirected anger—stifled spiritual life by stealing the very tools of virtue:

We need to reclaim anger for its proper purpose. It is always a waste of good anger to get annoyed with other human beings…. What the ascetic needs to do is to focus his attention … on the fact that he is annoyed. Instead of seeing some other human being angrily, he tries to see his own anger. He can then begin to fight against it.

Anger can be an important part of the process, the journey that is the construction and discovery of our spiritual home. But resentment has capacity to stop that process, to abort that journey. The anger that metamorphoses into resentment isolates us, creating the illusion that the world has stopped in its tracks and has come to focus entirely upon our hurts, our desires, our victimhood. In resentment there is no chance of release but only imprisonment in a painful past and the gradual stifling of all serenity, indeed, of all humanity. “If a man removes his bitterness, he becomes human; otherwise he becomes an animal,” observed one Sufi teacher”

Resentment unites anger, fear, and sadness in a kind of closed-circle, scissors-paper-rock game. In absence of resentment, anger, fear, and sadness tend to heal each other. Anger can act like a scissors, cutting through fear—the fear that like an enveloping shroud wraps itself around and threatens to smother the rock that is sadness. But that very sadness, which rises from realization of our own transience and the ultimate futility of our human efforts to control, is the only tool we have to blunt anger—to forestall the resentment that anger becomes if nourished even after our fears have been quelled.

Excerpt From: Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. “The Spirituality of Imperfection.”

Building Spiritual Renewal

Spiritual Renewal

Just as God had instructed Moses, the Israelites had done all the work… Exodus 39:42
These are the accounts of the Tabernacle… Exodus 38:21
…a hundred sockets for hundred talents, a talent for a socket.
Exodus 38:7

This is the last chapter of the Book of Exodus. God has forgiven the Israelites their transgressions and in binding the covenant insuring a lasting relationship based on prayer, community and willingness to have no other God.

It is not a coincidence that the instructions for building the Tabernacle include a specific number of sockets for the exact same number of talents. These refer to measures of silver and support beams for the structure. But more importantly Jewish law asks us to recite one hundred blessings every day, reminding us of the foundation of our spiritual renewal.

Creating a new structure requires starting with the base putting together new pieces connected with proper fasteners, wire, pipe and cement. It will not hold together if we simply patch the old. It is the same with our spiritual renewal; we must create it from the beginning.

Thanking the Sunlight of the Spirit one hundred times each day is an expression of our gratitude connecting us with God’s Power so that we may understand what we should do: the next right thing. Our mind is shifted from what is missing in our life to what we have to be thankful for.

Seeking the spiritual depth to recite one hundred blessings every day is progress on our path, and we seek progress not perfection. At the very least we are thankful every day to have today.

Promises To Self

My Promises

I promise myself: Promises
To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.
To talk, health, happiness and prosperity for all to every person I meet.
To make all my friends feel that there is something important within them.
To look at the sunny side of everything making my optimism my truth.
To think only good thoughts, to work only on good deeds and have only good goals.
To not regret the mistakes of the past and go forward creating a future of hope for all.
To wear a cheerful face and smile at every living creäture I encounter.
To give so much to improvement of self that I don’t have time to criticize others.
To be aware of worry, fear and anger but let the Spirit of my Soul shine and dominate the present.

Mindful Meditation

This practice of Mindful Meditation is a breathing meditation. We focus on breathing not because there’s anything special about it but because that physical sensation of breathing is always there. Throughout the practice, you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, and sounds—wherever your mind goes, simply come back again to the next breath. If you’re distracted the entire time and come back just once, that’s perfect.

1) Sit comfortably, finding a stable place you can support for a while, either on the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes if you like, or leave them open and gaze down toward the floor.

2) Draw attention to the physical sensation of breathing, perhaps noticing the always-present rising and falling of your abdomen or chest, or perhaps the air moving in and out through your nose or mouth. With each breath, bring attention to these sensations. If you like, mentally note, “Breathing in… Breathing out”, or any mantra that suits you.

3) Many times over, you’ll get distracted by thoughts or feelings. You may feel distracted more often than not. That’s normal. There’s no need to block or end thinking or anything else. Without giving yourself a hard time or expecting anything different, when you discover that your attention has wandered, notice whatever has distracted you and then come back to the breath.

4) Practice pausing before making any physical adjustments, such as moving your body or scratching an itch. With intention, shift at a moment you choose, allowing space between what you experience and what you choose to do.

5) You may find your mind wandering constantly, caught up in a whirlwind—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with or engaging with those thoughts as much, practice observing, noting wherever your attention has been, and then returning to the physical sensation of breathing.

6) Let go of any sense of trying to make something happen. For these few minutes, create an opportunity to not plan or fix or whatever else is your habit. Exert enough effort to sustain this practice, but without causing yourself mental strain. Seek balance in this way; if you find yourself mostly daydreaming and off in fantasy, devote a little extra effort to maintaining your focus.

7) Breathing in and breathing out, return your attention to the breath each time it wanders elsewhere.

8) Continue to practice observing without needing to react. Just sit and pay attention as best you are able. As hard as it is to keep up, that’s all that there is to it. Come back over and over, without judgement or expectation.

9) When you’re ready, gently open your eyes. Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Pausing for a moment, decide how you’d like to continue on with your day.