Tag Archives: Taoism

FREEBIES AT THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

Blavatsky.009

Some years ago while reading about early explorers into Tibet, I came upon a biography about Helena Blavatsky. Madame Blavatsky was involved in early investigations of spiritualism and eventually went on to found the Theosophical Society with others in 1875. The original organization splintered, and Theosophy does not have the following it once enjoyed, but it continues to foster spiritual growth.

The Theosophical Society in America’s website (www.theosophical.org) outlines their vision, mission, and ethic.

The Theosophical Society in America:

“Has a Vision of wholeness that inspires a fellowship united in study, meditation, and service.

Its Mission is to encourage open-minded inquiry into world religions, philosophy, science, and the arts in order to understand the wisdom of the ages, respect the unity of all life, and help people explore spiritual self-transformation.

Its Ethic holds that our every action, feeling, and thought affects all other beings and that each of us is capable of and responsible for contributing to the benefit of the whole.”

THE FREEBIES:

The Theosophical Society in America offers a vast array of programs online and at the headquarters (Chicago area). For the past few years I have benefited from the Thursday Night presentations which are offered free of charge via webcast. Here is a sampling of upcoming programs listed on the site (https://theosophical.org/programs/lectures). Each lecture is about an hour with a question and answer period. Web viewers may send questions live via the internet connection. All posted times are CT(Chicago). I hope you will give one or two a try. No knowledge of Theosophy is required and most programs are intended for the general audience. The society maintains a library of past Thursday Night lectures so should you miss one or want to do research on a previously covered topic, they are available through the website.

Photo: Yoko Nekonomania

Photo: Yoko Nekonomania

The Buddha and Jesus: Spiritual Masters

March 12, 7:00 p.m. CT

The Buddha and Jesus have been described as enlightened persons who realized their spiritual visions. They gave rise to two of the world’s major religious traditions, and became virtually deified by their followers. But who were they, and what were their spiritual visions? Explore the historical identities of these two spiritual teachers, the nature of their paths to ultimate truth, and consider the similarities and differences of their views of the human condition and subsequent teachings. (George Bond is professor emeritus of Religious Studies and McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University)

Discovering the Meaning and Wisdom of Life Passages

March 19, 7:00 p.m. CT

Using the astrological teachings of Dane Rudyar (Rhythm of Wholeness) and Alexander Ruperti (Cycles of Becoming) as resources for understanding psychological spiritual growth, we find they reveal the timing coordination for patterns of growth as we age. Elements of developmental psychology will be explored and sequenced with their astrological triggers. Investigate your own life purpose with regard to these perspectives to find greater clarity of life’s path. (Frank Morales, M.S.Ed. CRADC, MISA II)

Photo: Simsala111

Photo: Simsala111

Seeing Clearly: The Buddhist Practice of Mindfulness

March 26, 7:00 p.m. CT

Our thoughts, conceptions, theories, and beliefs often drift into “thickets of views” that can lead to confusion and rigidity. One way to ground ourselves amidst the modern conceptual bombardment is to cultivate mindful inquiry of basic experiential realities: the sense doors, sensory experience, and how they feel. Wisdom can arise when we see these things clearly, and we understand the limitations of all those concepts, theories, and beliefs. (Santikaro is the founder of Liberation Park, a Buddhist retreat center in Wisconsin.)

Why Forgive?

April 2, 7:00 p.m. CT

Forgiveness is praised more than it’s practiced. Why should we forgive? When? Are there times when it’s not right to forgive? How can you tell forgiving from condoning? Richard Smoley, editor of Quest magazine, offers some insights from his new book The Deal: A Guide to Radical and Complete Forgiveness. (Richard Smoley is a distinguished authority on the mystical and esoteric teachings of Western civilization. Editor of Quest Books.)

Photo: Juni of Kyoto, Japan

Photo: Juni of Kyoto, Japan

The Imperishable Flame of Life

April 9, 7:00 p.m. CT

Fire is one of the most sacred symbols used by sages, alchemists and initiates of ancient times. This primordial element of Life still plays a central role in many religious ceremonies and meditations for seekers of Truth throughout the world. We will probe into some of the esoteric meanings attributed to this universal symbol such as reincarnation, spiritual transmutation and Eternity. (Danelys Valcarcel is a Cuban artist and student of Theosophy.)

Freedom from Anxiety and Worry

April 16, 7:00 p.m. CT

It has been said that worrying is like running around in a circle—getting us nowhere. Why do so many of us spend so much time worrying about so many things? Is it possible to live responsible and caring lives without falling victim to anxiety and worry? That a human being can be free of such negative emotions is central to the Buddha’s teaching. However, it is necessary to understanding the nature of the human condition and come to terms with reality in order to free ourselves. (John Cianciosi, ordained Buddhist monk and spiritual director of monasteries in Thailand and Australia.)

Taoist Approach to Transform, Transmit, and Transcend Emotions

April 23, 7:00 p.m. CT

Cultivating the Inner Advantage

April 30, 7.00 p.m. CT

The Mystic Journey of Inner Light, Healing, and Love

May 7, 7:00 p.m. CT

 

Theosophy in India blog post: http://aviott.org/2014/02/19/banyans-cuckoos-cannonballs-and-theosophy/

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Filed under Spiritual/Mysticism

THE LOST SECRET OF IMMORTALITY by Barclay Powers

Lost Secrets

I’ve been taking some classes on a particular branch of Gnosticism and went in search of a book to help me see “the forest through the trees.” Certain things that were being taught on the transmutation of energy and enlightenment started to feel restrictive and I wondered how other spiritual traditions approached the subject. Author Barclay Powers has a BS in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has studied meditation, yoga, and martial arts for over thirty years. His book allowed me to gaze across several Eastern traditions while confirming almost everything Gnosticism outlined.

Photo: Mark Donoher

Photo: Mark Donoher

Once upon a time, the secrets of the East were tightly restricted to advanced followers of personal lineages. That has all changed with new translations of ancient texts and a proliferation of skilled teachers. The internet itself can even act as a guru. Ancient wisdom is available from India, China, Egypt, Tibet, Japan, and eastern and western alchemy. Powers sees a paradigm shift coming. Science is now looking at states of mind through brain imaging and he feels science will eventually look at the phenomena of the “rainbow body”* (the dissolving of the body into pure energy). When that happens, the world has the potential to change and manifest the best of humanity resulting in a global Bodhisattva* civilization.

 

Photo: Dennis Jarvis

Photo: Dennis Jarvis

 

As we wait for science to catch up, individual practitioners all over the world are taking up techniques like meditation, yoga, tai chi, gi gong, kundalini awakening, and the internal martial arts. All of the methods begin in the body and ultimately unite the body, soul, and spirit. Instead of a psychological transformation, Powers is talking about a physiological process that spans traditions. The ultimate freedom of enlightenment is found when the individual transcends birth and death, as well as time and space. The bulk of the book is devoted to examining Indian (Kundalini), Chinese (Tao), and Tibetan (Tantra) teachings for their similarities of energetic enlightenment. This was a good book for getting an overview of the systems of enlightenment. I enjoyed learning more about Taoist philosophy and the difference between the internal and external martial arts. The book could be expanded to include more about western mysticism and the Kabbalah, but those are not Powers’ areas of expertise. This is probably not a book for someone without burning questions about the nature of reality and enlightenment. For the novice, these practices will, at times, be shocking. They are meant to be having spent a millennia being well guarded by the masters of many traditions.

Photo: Joe Mabel

Photo: Joe Mabel

*Rainbow body- a phenomena well-recorded in the East, especially when a great spiritual teacher dies

*Bodhisattva- someone who postpones full Enlightenment to return to help others: the ultimate expression of compassion

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Buddhism, Spiritual/Mysticism, Uncategorized

Which Element Are You?

five elements

Charles Moss, MD explores the wisdom of ancient Taoist medicine and its application in the Power of the Five Elements. Dr. Moss has been involved with integrative medicine combining the best of western and eastern medicine since 1978. He opened one of the first integrative clinics and has been on the forefront of bringing acupuncture and the Five Element system to the US.

By completing a survey in his book you can identify which element (wood, earth, fire, water, metal) in the system best explains your reaction to stress. Once you’ve identified your element, the good doctor explores how to make the most of your natural strengths while combating your weaknesses. You may be able to skim through one of the early chapters to identify your primary element but even with careful reading, I thought I was metal only to find through the questionnaire that I was primarily wood followed by metal. Interestingly, my husband turned out to be metal and then wood. In this system, every one of us is a unique combination of all the elements. There is no good or bad element.

Each of us experiences stress in our lives and the five elements reveal our typical response to those. Here are the stress responses for each of the elements. You may resonate with one or two of them.

WOOD– anger, frustration

EARTH- search for sympathy, attention, understanding

FIRE– loss of joy, emotionally flat

WATER– paralyzing fear, fatigue, immobility

METAL– depression, isolation, rigid morality

Acupuncture Points- by Permacharts Inc.

Acupuncture Points- by Permacharts Inc.

 

The Taoist system in place in China in 200 BCE, emphasized physical health and spiritual well-being. The Nei Jing, the textbook of the first holistic health care system, described a method on adapting to stressors through knowing how. The greatest insight into a long and healthy life came from self-knowledge, a positive attitude, and spiritual practice. These are the same realizations western medicine is beginning to embrace. This book provides the necessary insights to learning the knowing how of good health through the Five Element system. Some of what is suggested will already be familiar if you have some experience in mind- body science. I am most excited to learn and incorporate the acupuncture points that Dr. Moss suggests for regaining adaptation for each of the elements. Having some experience with EFT (tapping acupuncture points) I know first-hand the power and therapeutic value of acupuncture and I’m eager to incorporate these. I hope you will explore the Five Element system to learn more about yourself and how to take care of the precious vessel that is your body.

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Filed under Energy medicine, Spiritual/Mysticism