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The Bliss Blog

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Although it might feel sacreligous to some, imagine a spiritual rave during which you are called on to the dance floor with music spun by Divine DJ’s. Jesus, The Buddha, Yemaya, Kwan Yin and Shiva are rockin’ the house with their celestial song stylings. They know that music stirs souls and is really a form of worship. Have you ever been to a rave?  Originally, it was a place of loud music, drugs and wild goings on. The intent, I imagine was to transcend the ‘ordinary’ day to day existence and connect with the Divine. I’ve attended a few events that were, instead fueled by the fire of faith in different forms. I was introduced to the phenom by Matthew Fox; formerly a Catholic priest who was defrocked because of his beliefs that ran counter to those of the Vatican and instead became an Episcopal priest. He refers to his co-creation as a Technocosmic Mass. It is a true collaboration as it is planned, designed and carried out by folks with a shared vision of what worship can be. Music, dance, chanting, ritual items, creation of altars, celebrating union and com-union amongst a group of what I call ‘overlapping soul circles’, sweating your prayers, offering praise to Spirit. It does, in the midst of this freedom to BE, have a particular structure.

 

The Cosmic Mass: A New Home for an Ancient Ritual By Matthew Fox  © 2000

According to the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality: The Via Positiva or celebration of existence (Thomas Aquinas says this is the first dimension to Worship: To say Thank You for Creation); the Via Negativa or sorrow for sins; the Via Creativa, the blessing of wine and bread as the food of the Cosmic Christ; and the Sending Off which is the Via Transformativa.  Our first 18 minute dance is during the Via Positiva, the last at the Via Transformativa wherein we receive the energy to be the spiritual warriors we need to be to transform society after we leave worship.  In between there is a deep experience of shared grief (via negativa) often including wailing and lamentation and the sharing of communion (via creativa).

I was honored to be on the planning team for two such events; one at Pebble Hill Church in Doylestown, PA and other via Common Ground Fellowship in the Philadelphia area. Such love and ingenuity went into putting them together, as if the One whispered into our ears, inspiring us to make them full sensory happenings that, rubbing our hands together with glee, we knew would delight and enliven those who attended.

This past October, I joined a group of  yogis and yoginis for Yoga Rave Philly as we danced, prayed, meditated and experienced yoga off the mat to the heart pounding rhythms of  many bands including the Baltimore, MD based Bhakti Tree. By the end of the night, surrounded by my ever growing tribe, I was sweaty, wrung out, inspired, spirit infused and drunk on The Divine (a good thing, since I don’t drink alcohol).

(That’s me, by the way in the lower middle portion of the photo, elbow up next to one of my favorite dance partners, my friend Gary Schoenberg)

www.thecosmicmass.com Matthew Fox

http://soundcloud.com/bhaktitree/  links to Bhakti Tree’s music

WHY I YOGA RAVE! http://vimeo.com/elan/videos  from one of the organizers Elan Gepner

 

http://www.indiegogo.com/yogaravephilly?a=1689821

 

 

Photo credit Cynthia Greb 2012

 

Tonight,  a friend who is facing some life challenges texted and asked for me to send reiki and hold her in the light of love. My response was that she was never anywhere else but there. Earlier in the day she had a rather disheartening experience that took her by surprise and caused some fear. People she had trusted had used what I think of as new age terrorism to let her know that she was in danger psychically and spiritually because she wasn’t going along with their particular program. You know, much like fundamentalists of any religious orientation who tell you that if you don’t do things ‘their way’, then you are condemned or at the very least have fallen out of favor with Source.  The only difference was in the languanging of it. My take is that no one has a monopoly on truth, simply their perspective. I don’t believe anyone, clergy, spiritual teacher or lay person has the right to tell anyone what to believe spiritually. As a minister, I have no special ‘in’ with the Almighty, no more direct hotline to the Divine than anyone else on the planet. Some refer to themselves as “God fearing.” I say that I am “God loving.” The God of my understanding communicates through the language of love and not fear. Fear of “God’s wrath” doesn’t do much to make the world a happier, healthier or more compassionate place. How many people  sit in houses of worship then go out and commit acts of aggression against others, sometimes in the name of one who created them? How many people take the name of All That Is in vain as they mis-use it to justify hatred against those whose beliefs run contrary to theirs? I’m not convinced that God takes sides, whether we are talking about a sporting event or sexual orientation. I think God is on everyone’s side. Hard to accept sometimes when someone else’s values butt heads with yours.

So many of the conflicts that occur on a planetary basis could likely find solution if they themselves were held in the light of love. Imagine if you will, an embrace so large and all encompassing that nothing could slip through, no one could escape it.  And who would want to? What if you could scoop up all of your fears, hesitations, belief in lack and limitation, harsh self criticism, denial of pleasure and place it into those metaphorical arms? How might you feel in this moment? And further, what if you knew, knew, knew beyond any doubt that you were One with Source, what couldn’t you get through?

And would you  ever feel as if that light is not big enough to take you in, regardless of the darkness you might feel around you?

 

http://youtu.be/2EEFSB0zyE0 In The Light of Love-by Deva Premal, Miten and Manose

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What if you knew that there was a Force on the planet, the emanation of which could cure, heal, save, adjust, free, re-rebuild lives? And furthermore, what if it was free as the wind and available to everyone?  Would you want it?  Would you keep it to yourself or would you share it?

The Highest Truth I know is that there is such an energy, that has all of those remarkable properties, it is free AND the more I share it, the more it expands and grows. Plain and simple; it’s love. Whatever you were taught about it, that it is limited, frightening, capricious, non-existent, painful, is erroneous. Like the Everlasting Gobstopper in Willy Wonka’s fantasmagorical factory, it never gets smaller and never can be finished. We might live in the illusion that love leaves when people do. I have found over and over that even when someone dies or if a relationship shifts, love doesn’t go anywhere. It may change form like water to ice and not always feel warm and fuzzy, but it is love nonetheless. Love is never wasted and the ripples of its expression spread, like a contagion beyond even those with whom you have immediate contact. Think of the movie Pay It Forward. One simple act of kindness touches more than just one life. If you smile at someone as you pass on the street, or allow someone to go ahead of you in the check out line at the supermarket, or through an intersection, it may make all the difference in their day and they may then be more conscious of how their next encounter could be pleasant rather than disheartening.

My career as a therapist/speaker/minister puts me in touch with people who often feel a lack of love. They wonder if they will ever be fully embraced and accepted in a world that seems like an icycle dripping from the eaves of a roof, with a pointy edge that could stab them if they were standing under it if it fell, or  at the least drip slowly on their heads, thus making them slowly freeze. I could (and likely would) ask them what it would take to move from under the frigid water, rather than turn into a human popsicle. Some might not move since they are so accustomed to living that way. What if, instead, they allowed themselves to be embraced, like the Prodigal Son (or daughter) being welcomed  back into the fold?  How weird might that be and also how welcoming?

Lately, with the trauma of this past Friday still harsh and raw in people’s minds and hearts, and the upcoming (and in some minds) portentuous date of 12/21/12, people feel jangly, on edge, deeply sad, numb, angry, uncertain and fearful…emotion soup is what I call it. We splash around in it and as the heat rises, so too do our emotions. What if we turned down the burner and let things simmer a bit and then decide how we want to ‘feed the collective soup pot’ with our emotions?  What would you want as an ingredient in the soup?  I would choose to spice it up with joy, fascination, play, delight, fun, silliness, bliss, of course, creativity, spontaneity and love.

Imagine if each us had our own spice can from which we could sprinkle, spoon or dump love on ourselves or others, whether they are already in our circle or a ‘stranger’, remembering that everyone you now know and love was once a stranger. I carry this around with me and use it at workshops and vendor fares, sometimes just whipping it out spontaneously and asking if people would like to indulge.

For today, for this moment, I invite you to envision a world embraced by love~

www.spiceforliving.com

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhq-yO1KN8 Imagine by John Lennon

 

In the past 72 hours, with the actions of a man who I won’t glorify or glamorize by writing his name, countless lives have been changed; some by death and some by needing to live with the consequences. Unless you are on a complete news fast, you are aware that a 20 year old young man entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in the neighborhood of Newtown, Connecticut and cut a swath of destruction that swept away 26 lives including his own. The details are still not completely clear and we can only take wild guesses at the motivating force behind the act of violence. Attempting to wrap our minds around the loss of the wee ones who were the lights of the lives of their families, as well as the courageous teachers and principal who did their best to protect them and lost their own in the process, is an exercise in futility. As a therapist over the past 30 years who has served mental health consumers; some with paranoia, some with extreme anger issues, I have theories about the darkness that consumed him before he made a choice that sent ripples world wide.

We can debate about what snuffed out those innocent lives; weapons that were owned by his “gun enthusiast” mother, that this mentally imbalanced man had access to those which were used to kill her as well, or the fear and anger that had him pulling the trigger multiple times for each of his ‘targets’. We can cast blame on the system that allows for weapons of mass destruction to easily get in the hands of people bent on devastation; we can feel helpless when those with psychiatric illness don’t get the treatment they so desperately need. Or we can additionally heal our own hearts and the violent thoughts that permeate our collective psyhche’s and make peace with our own destructive mental meanderings. We can use our rhetoric in anger with clenched fists or we can join hands in unity and extend them in healing.

As do all tragic happenings, this one shook us to our core. Anyone with a heart, can feel it symbolically breaking. Even the most stoic or steadfastly spiritual among us, have had some emotional response. A few days prior, many of my friends have reported varying levels of anxiety with no direct or obvious cause. Keep in mind, that they tend toward the intuitive/psychic.  I have noticed the same, with rapid heart rate, a sense of hyper-vigilance, sitting and staring for moments at a time. So not me, since I like feeling productive and purposeful. Maybe just re-calibrating is what it is or preparing for this horrific event. My heart is with the families who will not see their children grow up or their classmates whose memories will be forever be imprinted by what they saw and heard. The good news is that people are rallying around them, as prayers and therapeutic interventions are swirling around them. I’ve read articles by mental health professionals, clergy and first responders who have ‘what to say’ advice to children who question what happened, as well as those who are grieving, regardless of age.

The gist of the articles is about comfort and not dismissing feelings, allowing for them to flow in healthy ways. Reassuring them that their emotional reactions are ‘normal’ and not a sign of illness. Spending more time together as a family. Supporting them in taking care of themselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Not spiritualizing away their feelings with statements such as “God needed another angel.”, which could frighten a child.

“How could God let this happen?” is a question that hammers at many people. I’m not convinced that God prevents or causes ‘acts of God’ as we humans are wont to refer to them. I believe in ‘life happening’ and sometimes these events are painful and inexplicable. They are like a spiritual colonic that flush us clean and shake us to our core. May they make us better and more loving people. And may we join hands in unity, rather than clench them in anger.