The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Prayer Is Portable

When we consider prayer, most folks think about petitioning, asking, begging, pleading, cajoling for something we believe we don’t have. Instead, I prefer to think of prayer in terms of gratitude for what is already in my life and what I am inviting into my life.

When I was in attending The New Seminary, I wrote something called Prayer Is Portable with the idea that it is something that need not be done in an edifice such as church, synagogue, temple or mosque. It is not necessary to have an intermediary such as priest, minister, rabbi or imam.  There is a direct line between our hearts and that of the “God of our understanding.” (to use a 12 step recovery term)

 

Gregg Braden shares a story called Pray Rain in his book Secrets of The Lost Mode of Prayer. I had heard him tell it during a presentation he offered in Philadelphia a few years ago and have heard it many times since then. It never fails to amaze me.

Gregg tells about a time of drought in northern New Mexico, when a Native American friend asked him to join him for an early-morning hike to a medicine wheel so he could pray rain. They walked for a couple hours to a circle of stones on the ground divided by an X or stones within the circle. Gregg’s friend explained that the wheel itself had not power, but was a place of focus for the one invoking the prayer. His friend then took off his shoes, stepped into the circle, honored the four directions and his ancestors,. placed his hands in prayer position, closed his eyes and stood soon motionless.

After a few moments, he said he had finished and was ready to leave. Gregg said “Already? I thought you were going to pray for rain!”

“‘No,’ he replied. ‘I said that I would pray rain. If I had prayed for rain, it could never happen.’”

“He began by describing how the elders of his village had shared the secrets of prayer with him when he was young boy. The key, he said, is that when we ask for something to happen, we give power to what we do not have. Prayers for healing empower the sickness. Prayers for rain empower the drought. ‘Continuing to ask for these things only gives more power to the things that we would like to change,’ he said.”

Gregg’s friend explained: “I began to have the feeling of what rain feels like. I felt the feeling of rain on my body, and what it feels like to stand with my naked feet in the mud of our village plaza because there has been so much rain. I smelled the smells of rain on the earthen walls in our village, and felt what it feels like to walk through fields of corn chest deep high because there has been so much rain.”

It started to rain the next day and continued on for many days.  That is the way of things. When we live AS IF something is already so, then we can live into it more fully and freely.

 

Winter Solstice

 

The Birth of The Divine Child

As winter’s darkness descends, our hearts tremble. But is it of fear or celebration? Dread of the shadow or anticipation of the Light? Ask of the voice within that knows all things for what they are. And wait in silence for the answer to arise. Still your mind of the busy chatter that fills it to capacity with all that does not serve. Within the comfort of the shadow realms, take a moment to look about. Put aside your trepidation, for in truth, there is no cause to hide. We are of that soft shadow just we are of the Light that will soon replace it. In order for new life to spring forth, the seeds of that anticipated growth require the blanket of rich, moist soil to embrace them. The intelligence within those seeds knows that they must lie dormant for a bit. Think that they worry? Not likely, for they are one with nature. They know no separation. So why must we?

On December 21st, we welcome the birth of the New Solar year and the onset of winter. God and Goddess dance as one in the forms of the Great Mother and Sun Child. Swirling and soaring, melting the chill from our bones and souls. Enticing us to join in the ballet of Being. Crimson like the blood that flows through our veins, moss green that carpets the earth, feather white that gently blankets the reaching branches, stretching to the heavens, asking for a blessing from All That Is. The message from the One is of trust that all is well, despite appearances. It is of shifting our focus from darkness to light, from terror to safety, from condemnation to affirmation.

As the Light ascends, so too do we. Rising from the depths of self-doubt into certainty. Expanding from our limited view of what we can do into All that we Are. Surrendering with arms cast wide in the knowing that we will be safely carried into the next moment. Recognizing the sacred in each act of love, each word of support, each thought of kindness. Seeing the Highest in each soul. Embracing what is so. Cultivating wisdom. Creating from our hearts’ desires. Emboldening our passions. Singing a celestial song with words of Divine origin. Stretching our comfort zones.

And as we do this, we witness the Birth of the Divine Child within us. Blessed Be.

Edie Weinstein copyright 2004

The Greatest Secret Of All

Is there anyone you know (yourself included) who would not want to experience greater abundance in all areas of their lives? A deceptively simple book beckoned me recently into an exploration of that desire.  Called “The Greatest Seret of All”, it was penned by Marc Allen; who along with Shakti Gawain (best known for her book “Creative Visualization”),  co-founded New World Library.

What immediately grabbed my attention was the story Marc shared of the resistance he had to attracting abundance.  His thoughts were hammering away at him, especially those of a self deprecating nature. He had bought into the beliefs about money being evil and that he was a loser since he had what he thought of us “the opposite of the Midas Touch”.

What turned things around for him, was learning from Masters of attraction such as Jesus, Gandhi and Buddha,as well as spiritual texts such as The Bhagavad Gita. He drank in a book written by Lenedra J. Carroll called “The Architecture of All Abundance” . Most importantly, he practiced daily what he was learning.

The powerful spiritual invocation:

“Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you will find.”  was a guide for Marc along his journey from feeling like a “loser with money”, to a being a ”magician with money.”

In The Greatest Secret, Marc offers portable tools to use immediately, which include affirmations, creating an image of his ideal life, coming up with a goal list and following through with action steps.

 My own journey from living in scarcity (or as my friend Alan Cohen calls it::  scare-city) to joyfully doing an ‘a-bun-dance’, came from growing up in a middle class-blue collar home where there was always enough, but fear lurking around corner that there might not be, so my father, a devoted to his family workaholic, had what we called ‘crazy hours’ as a milk man and then bus driver.  I learned from a Master there myself, since my own working hours resemble his…full tiime job in a hospital and then a whole bunch of consulting work that at some points equals 80 hours a week…YIKES!  all in an effort to insure financial security. Sometimes have felt like a hamster on a wheel…getting nowhere fast. Then I began to take a closer look at my ideas about money. In my extended family, the wealthier ones were men in mainstream business.  There were no role models for independently wealthy women who were creative right brain types like me. I decided that I would break the mold.  For years, I have been writing the very things that Marc speaks of. I have been growing a new attitude. I have been asking for what my work is worth, as a coach I had worked with a few years ago encouraged me:  ”without stuttering.”  I have come to KNOW that there is nothing unspiritual about money and that even though I am a minister and do spiritual work, my creditors expect me to pay them the same as they would if I were in any other profession.

As a result, more opportunities are showing up and I willingly embrace them. So, I invite you to explore your own perceptions about abundance (not just the green stuff), but in all aspects of your wondrous life.

www.marcallen.com

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Rabbi

Rabbi Rayzel Raphael is a gloriously vibrant work of art; as colorful as the painted-on -silk tallit she designs in rainbow array.  A true Renaissance Woman, Rayzel teaches, leads services, runs an organization, records and performs music.

 

How do you live your bliss?

Through music and art, rituals and women’s circles. Music and art take me out of my mundane regularity of life- errands, computer, carpool, work- and elevate my spirit to another realm.

What led you to the spiritual path you are on, personally and professionally?

It was a gradual unfolding of the path, and responding to the call to serve my people. I grew up in Tennessee in a Conservative Jewish family. My grandfather was an Orthodox rabbi and my family was pretty traditional- keeping the Sabbath, going to synagogue, keeping kosher. I began as undergraduate major in Jewish studies at Indiana University. I went to graduate school at Brandeis in contemporary Jewish studies, spent a year studying in yeshiva in Israel and then another year studying women of the bible at Hebrew University – (My first cd Bible Babes came out of that research )

Bible Babes Abeltin’ is my collection of strong songs of Jewish women from scriptures. I use music to tell stories and educate. To me music is “the spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine of lessons go down” -it makes learning fun.

I worked at Hillel in Toronto Canada, I was the executive director of Jewish Student Federation and on campus organization at York University that helps Jewish students stay connected to their heritage, through social, cultural educational and religious activities. Then I couldn’t resist the call anymore to come to Reb school in the Philadelphia area. (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.) Reconstructionist Judaism sees it as an evolving religious civilization, not static or frozen in ancient time- always subject to interpretation in new ways. It’s the Reconstructionist philosophy that gives me license to create and transform liturgy.

I know that you perform solo and in collaboration with a group of other talented women, called Miraj. What is the nature of the music you offer?

We write and arrange our own liturgical, ritual, and educational songs – with a specialty in women of the Bible. We met in rabbinical school in Hebrew grammar the first year and started singing to learn the lessons, we sounded pretty good together it went from there- we’ve been together 15 years- Rabbi Margot Stein, Juliet Spitzer and myself- we’ve had others sing with us as well through the years, but we’re the core. A lot of lunches and laughter.

How does music allow you to express your heart and soul?

I can sing about and through the pains- my own which I can also assume at some level I sing for others who carry what I do – we all carry pain, can I transform it through music? It’s one of my goals. I can educate about the Jewish tradition. I can use my poetic skills to translate ancient prayers into modern language and make it meaningful/relevant today.

 

Shabbat Unplugged was the way that I first met you. Can you speak about that?

I created Shabbat Unplugged when I was Rabbi at Leyv Ha-ir in center city – it was originally called Rock and Roll Shabbat. I invited my Reb school friends to “do something creative” and I marketed it to my Hillel students. We were mobbed, we then got a grant from the Jewish federation to do it in area synagogues- we were really busy for years. Now we get a couple of gigs a year but its always a joy. We created a lot of new music.

My album Friday Night Revived contains a completely transformed Hebrew- English Friday night service – a lot from that era my partners there were Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Rabbi Micah Becker Klein, Rabbi Margot Stein and Juliet Spitzer.

I also developed a project called Sidewalk Shabbat that took this music to the streets and met Judah Prince and Yofiah Deikman. All of my singing partners have their own cds as well.

What is InterFaithways?

It is a non profit organization : an interfaith family support network of Greater Philly. I started it under Jewish Family Services. We are now independent with Leonard Wassermans & Rubenstein Family Foundations and others’ support.  I’m the Rabbinic Director, Gari Weilbacher is the Managing Director we have two missions to :

Welcome interfaith families and to make the community welcoming to them.

InterFaithways has been my vehicle for service to my community. As the rates of intermarriage arises- its almost 50% .The interfaith families represent a huge opportunity for the Jewish community to grow their numbers AND transform their culture to be welcoming. We have such fear encoded in our DNA from years of oppression and persecution. Welcoming interfaith families gives us the opportunity to conquer fear and embrace love.

I invite couples in to my home for Shabbat to give them a sense of Jewish family life, we also sponsor a Movie Night and Interfaith family weekend with the area’s 50 synagogues.

How do angels blend with the work that you do since most mainstream Jews were not taught much about angelic presence?

Angels are my guides. I did a paper on them in Reb school and I’ve called upon them for support and guidance ever since. I’m one of their PR agents and love to sing and teach about them. I call on them for help as well.

http://www.shechinah.com

http://interfaithways.org/

http://www.mirajtrio.com/

http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RayzelRaphael

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rabbigrr

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