At CEC, we’ve been working towards developing and embodying a pluralistic and inclusive model of spiritual practice. Our grand vision is to offer a place where all spiritual practices are welcomed in a big tent of exploration, dialogue and cross-pollination. Yet, we’ve struggled to integrate one prominent feature of many spiritual traditions: namely God. For secular spiritual types, just saying the word God in a non-ironic way can trigger major defences. For many, “God” evokes everything bad about old fashioned religion: blind faith, anti-scientific superstition, misogyny, sex negativity, homophobia, and intolerance. It’s a pretty bad rap sheet. If God represents all those things, then what clear-minded, compassionate person wouldn’t reject the concept?
It takes practice to give a fuck. As Shunryu Suzuki said, “there is no such thing as enlightenment, only enlightened activity”. The insights we’ve gleaned on the cushion, or in play and exploration, find traction as they latch onto all parts of our day.
In mindfulness practice, we find ourselves noticing the habitual stories that play in our heads on a loop, often causing us great misery and pain. By noticing and getting some distance from these stories we can start to break free from their unconscious pull over us. As we start to loosen our attachments to those those old unhelpful stories, our minds become free to tell new ones.
Emotional complexity can arise out of a relatively ordinary situation. Our human capacity to feel and track emotions is somewhat ridiculous in its scope and power. It’s all part of our nature as intensely social creatures. The social world is our habitat, and emotion is the intelligence of social existence.
Art, like meditation, illuminates the ineffable. Painting, literature, poetry, music, dance, theatre, film…these have incredible capacity to comfort, heal, inspire, incite, ignite. Bring us face to face with our own humanity and all of its terrible beauty. We’ll be making art of this next month at CEC. We’ll extol our community’s artists and teachers to introduce practices that breed creativity, feed artistic souls, and illustrate how art can enrich and inspire the contemplative path.
Almost any domain or activity in life can be approached as an intentional practice, and the people who specialize in these domains have learned important things about being human. How can we draw this wisdom out? Introducing the Consciousness Explorers Club’s new pluralistic practice paradigm 🙂
What is a “breakthrough?” It’s a jump to higher level of insight and perspective. This looks different depending on the person. For some it’s an insight into a dysfunctional pattern or relationship. For others, a renewed sense of vigor and direction. For others still, a glimpse into who they are at what feels like a deeper level.
This zooming out might be particularly useful right now, on the cusp of this anxiety-inducing US election. People – myself included – really are freaked out about the deep divisions in the US. The theory about meditation is it can help us get space around such tough emotions and, in turn, make better – saner – responses.
Twice-born temperaments, on the other hand, are a little more complicated. They can’t wave away the world’s manifestly unfair distribution of hardship, and they’re generally unable to accept so-called “unseen realities” on faith alone. Their journey into spiritual feeling is more hard-won, the result of a lot of agonized fumbling and confusion.