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Archive for June, 2010

Through our various spiritual traditions, we have a variety of practices designed to guide us to, and keep us focused on, an awareness of the pervasiveness of the sacred: yoga, the Eightfold Path, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Five Pillars, and many other rituals and ceremonies. They all involve regular, even daily, ways to draw our attention to the sacred.

At the heart of most spiritual practice, what is left when we move beyond form, constricting language, and what may be for some the stiffness of the prescriptions, as Wayne Muller has said, is simply remembering. Remember who you are. Remember what you love. Remember what is sacred. Remember what is true. Remember that you will die, and that this day is a gift. Remember how you wish to live, and that you will return to where you came from.

Remembering these things on a regular basis will keep our focus on the sacred, on the spiritual aspect of life. This is where we will find our greatest comfort, the healing of our ills, and the love that we will most cherish. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is finding the practice, simple or otherwise, that will help us remember who we are, what we do know, and what we do not yet remember that we know. It can be meditation, prayer, writing, singing, walking, even the mundane routines of life. Having such a means to keep our focus, a simple act that helps center us into a remembrance of what we already know is sacred and beautiful, is essential to our spiritual growth. Simple acts of remembrance greatly enrich our spiritual life.

A 34th way to review your life story – What draws you to whatever is personally sacred to you? What one practice has most helped you remember who you are? What keeps you on a path that leads you to your spiritual essence? Where do you find your greatest comfort, your deepest love? What keeps you focused on what matters most to you? Reflect on these questions, and put your responses into a flowing narrative that tells the story of how simple acts of remembrance enrich your spiritual life. Share that story here for others to learn from.

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On this Father’s Day, how do we remember our fathers, whether they are still with us or not? What is it that lasts the longest about who they are? What is it that we will never forget about them, as long as we live? Is it the power, or authority they commanded? Is it their accomplishments? Is it the material legacy they leave behind? Or is it something else that stays with us forever about who they are?

“Everyone,” says Abdu’l-Baha, “wishes to be remembered.” This is the essence of our nature as human beings. We have a built in tendency and desire to not only review the life we have lived, to make sense of it and see it for what it truly is, but to want others to know this and remember it, too.

We owe it to our fathers to remember them how they would truly wish to be remembered. And, we owe it to ourselves to be remembered how we truly wish to be remembered. Power, accomplishments, even material legacies, will pass, fade, and be forgotten. If we “hear with attentive ear the call of the spiritual world,” if we “seek first” its “perfections,” this will be what is not forgotten about us. This is how we will have “everlasting remembrance.” The eternal qualities and virtues that we cultivate and bring in to being through our daily actions make us who we are as spiritual beings; these are what will last the longest in the memories of those who really do know us.

A 33rd way to review your life storyHow do you truly wish to be remembered? If earthly accomplishments will hardly be remembered, what is it most from having heard the call of the spiritual world that will contribute to your everlasting remembrance? What spiritual virtues and qualities that you have nurtured throughout your life make you most who you really are? Reflect on these spiritual qualities that you would like others to remember about you, select just one, and tell a story illustrating how you have lived this virtue in your life. If you would like to share that story here for others to learn from, that would be wonderful.

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Mystic knowing is essentially a matter of remembering what we once knew. Our birth into this world is not merely a matter of “a sleep and a forgetting,” as Wordsworth and other mystic poets have hinted at. This is but the earliest part of a lifelong, even eternal, process. The rest of the story is, most importantly, a process of remembering who we really are. This is how and why remembering is a spiritual practice. Wordsworth gives us a glimpse of the rest of that process, too:

Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea

Which brought us hither, can in a moment travel thither…

This process begins as a journey of descent, from the eternal worlds, characterized by knowing and forgetting, yet continues in this world after birth as a journey of ascent, characterized by eventually awakening to the reality around us, coming into full consciousness, and then gradually remembering what was once known from the sacred realm. Some sense that there might be something more to life, seek and often find what they are looking for, and then spend the rest of their lives striving to live in the ultimate balance of that remembrance. Others may spend their lives wholly in the temporal realm, forever in that state of forgetfulness, never knowing, or caring, that there was ever anything else to know.

All of the divinely revealed religions help us recognize our origin as well as our destiny. Similar to the other sacred traditions, at the heart of the Baha’i Faith is the belief that our purpose in this life is to prepare for the life beyond, that the soul is on a journey from and back to God. As the Baha’i writings put it, the soul “is the repository of the ancient, Divine mysteries of God.” The nature, path and progress, or the journey, of the soul, as it has been understood historically and universally, through these spiritual perspectives, is of the essence to living our lives today.

A 32nd way to review your life story – If the soul is our eternal identity, the only thing we take with us through this life and into the next, perhaps the one thing that makes us truly unique, then remembering where we came from, who – and what – we really are, and where we are going, could even be seen as the purpose of life. Who are you, really, in the eternal sense? In addition to all the usual identifiers we draw on to answer this essential question of life, what would you add to this long list of identities that truly makes you who you are, eternally? What divine qualities or virtues have you discovered that have been deposited into your soul? How has remembering what you once knew before your descent to this world helped you in your return journey, in preparing for the life beyond? Please feel free to share the essential parts of this story with us here.

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