Pray Talk with Betty Bland: Labyrinths, Theosophy, & Prayer
Chief of Pray and Pray Maker talk to Betty Bland, the president of , headquartered in Wheaton, IL, about their experience walking the Labyrinth and other practices and concepts of Theosophy.
Well a labyrinth is a kind of spiritual practice and it goes back to an ancient history. But we see it in the cathedral in Chartress in France, where there is a large labyrinth laid out on the floor of the cathedral there and it's a meditative walking experience and the Monastics used to walk that path as they were doing their reflective meditation and prayer. So this particular labyrinth is based on the model from Crete and it has a different shape from the one in Chartress but it's the same idea of walking to be reflective of one's spiritual life. And there are many many symbolisms about it, in other words if you just take one step at a time you may not know where you're going but you can see the center and you know if you keep progressing that you are going to get there and that it is a time of recognizing sometimes your life looks like it's taking you in turns that you're going far away from the center but actually that's a part of the progress as well. And then when you get to the center you can wait and have your period of time and people may have to wait for you but then when you start going back out the same way you came in you would step around the path to let people pass you by as they're heading on toward the center. But it's a very reflective thing, a lot of Monastics have done it all through the ages.
This is a very unusual way for me to pray because my spiritual practice is to pray with a prayer book and to pray in the company of at least 9 other people, so prayer is very very communal and this is very different. We have a contemplative peace in our prayer service, I'm Jewish, but this is very different for me. it was cool.
In the Theosophical Society, particularly, we recognize meditation as an access to that interior nature. And even tiny children can learn to just quiet their minds for a moment, as it says in the bible "be still and know that I am God," so to be able to have a little bit of stillnes so that the divine spark can come into our consciousness. So there are many ways that one can access that, so I would say that if one has a sense of true open gratitude that the rest will follow.
Pretend I am 9 years old, I sometimes act that way anyway, so help me understand what Theosophy is.
Okay well, of course, from the word itself you can understand Theos meaning Divine or Divinity and Sophia or Sophy meaning wisdom. So it is an exploration of wisdom through the spirit or divine. And it recognizes that there is a universal truth and ancient wisdom that runs through all religious experiences.
Would you consider it a religion?
Actually it is not a religion, and in fact our early leaders encouraged you not to leave your religion but to live it. And it is religious in the sense of encouraging one's spiritual practice and we have people who are totally non religious, but who are on their spiritual journey, we have Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims; we have all faith traditions.
Things to be Desired
One of my favorite prayer poems is Deiderata, written in the 1920's by American poet, Max Ehrmann. My father had a simple scr
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