Archive for June, 2009

Preparing the Soil for Further Transformation

Posted in Blogroll, leadership, personal development on June 29, 2009 by velocityvortx

So we have been talking about transformation and the experiences surrounding them.  But how do you actually prepare the soil to enter into them.  Can you create these ah ha moments?  Can you provoke those noetic experiences that are often high impact?

I want you to think of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 1…he prayed that they would be enlightened….that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened.

•    Eph. 1.15        For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,  16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,

Remember I keep saying spirituality is seeing…but there it is again in Paul’s prayer.

Another way of asking the above questions is can you position yourself in such a way that you increase the incidence of bumping into God enlightening you mind. 

Elijah…Elisha…John the Baptist…Peter James and John…  Paul.  They all experienced this.

So let’s go to the garden as a powerful metaphor for transformation. Gardeners don’t grow anything but create the conditions in which things can grow.

The first thing the developmentalists talk about it is something we mentioned in a couple posts months ago…

1. Gardeners accommodate new experiences and resist assimilating them.

•    Zebra assimilated to a horse.  Eventually the child will come realize that there is an animal that looks similar to a horse called a zebra but that they are not the same.  When that happens we are moving into accommodation.

This is how we stretch and revise our mental models (the way we think the world IS).  And this is probably how we are to account for profound shifts in consciousness.  So here is the million dollar question how do we increase our ability to accommodate and not assimilate?

Two psychologists who have specialized in studying awe and wonder propose two essential elements to awe…

•    1. Perceived vastness
•    2. Accommodation

In other words it may be that some experiences are so vast, so profound so far beyond what we have previously perceived that they in effect demand that we transform our worldview in order to accommodate them. 

Sheer vastness forces accommodation because we simply have no category for the ZEBRA.

So why do some experiences challenge our belief systems resulting in positive transformations while others don’t?

Keltner and Haidt, these two psychs, say it is your ability to take in the vastness of the experience without assimilation that moves it toward the pole of transformation.

Louise Sundararajun a psychologist and religious historian argues  that only after failed attempts to assimilate will we allow accommodation and new mental structures to be formed.

This sort of shift is what leads to different brain wiring and a more spacious way of BEING.  Notice these experience don’t usually bring new knowledge in the sense of facts and figures but new knowledge of being-ness or vastness or of how things are.

She further argues that the only way to insure our ability to accommodate is to step back and look at our process of thinking and judgment this is what is typically call metacognition. 

•    Looking at and thinking about our thinking.  Observing what we are observing and thinking about it.

More on gardening next week.

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The Ostrich

Posted in Blogroll, personal development on June 25, 2009 by velocityvortx

The ostrich is the largest and heaviest living bird. It is a flightless bird that can never take to the skies, so instead it’s built for running. Its long, thick, and powerful legs can cover great distances without much effort, and its feet have only two toes for greater speed.

When an ostrich senses danger and cannot run away, it flops to the ground and remains still, with its head and neck flat on the ground in front of it. Because the head and neck are lightly colored, they blend in with the color of the soil. From a distance, it just looks like the ostrich has buried its head in the sand, because only the body is visible.  While I won’t argue the veracity of these  tactics, you understand where we get the idea of burying our head in the sand, refusing to acknowledge or confront a problem or method of dealing with a problem.

What does this have to do with spirituality?  What might this have to do with Scripture?   

We live in a context that affords us so much opportunity to open our eyes to reading the Bible in new and old ways that position us for discovery and growth.  Do we use the resources that are available to explore what we might come to know in this time about the Bible?  This magnificent narrative …are we willing to settle for the condensed systems and boxes into which we have placed it?   Are these methodologies ” burying our heads in the sand ” when God wants a cosmos size understanding. 

Ron says…

Unless we recognize the unique historically evolved social context of the authors and the characters they are writing about we will consistently  misread Scripture, extracting principles never intended and/or randomly picking and choose stuff that doesn’t really apply to us anyway.   

Ron is guiding those involved at Spiritual Explorations Live on Sunday nights through the social evolution and human development in the characters and context of the Bible.  We are questioning the questions that we have thought the Bible answered and working to get at what was really going on not only contextually, historically,  but also in the human development of the characters.  Ron is leading us in the composition of the Bible and how we can read it in a manner consistent with how the literature was put together…this (R)evolutionary Spirituality of Scripture.

Ron just created a video that hits on one element of The (R)evolutionary Spirituality of Scripture titled From Instinct to Imagination which helps us read the Bible in story type ways rather than the typical owners manual.  In this video Ron takes you through the creation story and the Tower of Babel story to teach us how to apply a reading with the lenses of the social context of the story, the social context of the author of the story, our social context, and the character development (human life change) that is narrated in these incredible stories.

Ron will show you in this video how to look at this Grand Narrative as the (R)evolutionary text it is.   Don’ t miss this.   Pick it up today! Go to the velocitystore here and order Instinct to Imagination.

Honoring Transformative Moments…

Posted in Blogroll, leadership, personal development on June 23, 2009 by velocityvortx

We need to honor and reflect upon these awareness bringing experiences.

Let me give you an example of the third we mentioned in the last post coming into my life at the right time. 

Over the course of my spiritual life there has been this “uncanny coincidence” or “sychronicity” or spiritual flow of God in my life that with consistency intersected my life with resources and teachers at just the right time.

One of those spiritual directors I met a couple years ago at a conference with Thomas Keating was a monk named David Steindl-Rast.  He has written more than 30 books…his area of focus?  Practicing gratefulness….the practice of living with a fundamental appreciation for all of life.

He is an 80 year old Benedictine monk that I have learned so much from.  It was from him in a private spiritual direction session that I heard for the first time the statement “’what is,’ ron, is the great teacher for you in this moment.  Gratefulness therefore is the only response you can have.”

Father David was trying to get all of us and me in particular to come to a place of realizing awareness moment to moment brings with it gratefulness for what is and gratefulness for what is is the catalyst for bringing the transformative power of those moments or those experiences forward into your day and life.

In fact this is how Father David distinguishes the Great Mystics of our Christian tradition from those of us normal people who once in a while have a mystical experience with a sunset or a relational interaction.

“What makes great mystics great, and us with our little mystical experiences not such great mystics?  It is that great mystics allow the memory of the experience, and the energy of the experience to flow into their everyday life.  The memory of that experience is kept alive with gratitude.  What you have experienced wants to be translated into everyday life, it’s the matrix for your whole life.  It wants to be the energy that enlivens your life on every level.  And that means spiritual living, and that means what the great mystics do.”

If we don’t mull over, reflect upon, converse about and share our experiences then we will miss something very very important.

What do you need to do this week to reflect upon what has been brought into your awareness. 

Let me suggest an exercise to slow you down and become more aware.  I suggest you do it each day. 

Become aware of sensations in body starting in head then moving to heart and then allowing that energy and heat to move to hands…

Slowly bring hands from thighs together… Bringing finger tips together then slowly interlocking the figures as if praying.  Doing all this very slowly.  Then just as slowly open your hands heavenward leaving your fingers interlocked and resting the backs of your hands on your thighs.  Inhale God’s life exhale your life through your hands as a surrender of your life into to the wind/spirit/breath of God’s life.

Remember we are incarnational beings.  We are second incarnations.

The Song of the Bird

Posted in Blogroll, leadership, personal development on June 18, 2009 by velocityvortx

From DeMello’s THE SONG OF THE BIRD

(Included in this book are 124 stories (parables) from a variety of traditions, both ancient and modern. Each story is a life lesson that teaches truths about ourselves and our world.)

The disciples were full of questions about God.

Said the Master, “God is Unknown, the Unknowable. Every statement about Him, every answer to your questions, is a distortion of the Truth.”

The disciples were bewildered. “Then why do you speak about Him at all?”

“Why does the bird sing?” said the Master.

Not because he has a statement, but because he has a song.

The words of the Scholar are to be understood. The words of the Master are not to be understood. They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird. They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge.

 

For those of us who are somewhat if not overly verbose, we passionately preach with words that we believe are truth-filled.  For those of us who have experienced those transformative moments, we, with great energy, pour our time into speaking for a life lived in Christ.  But the words at best can truly only provide a sort of container for that which can only be experienced in the wind and the sound …ONLY with a teacher who embodies that which is spoken because he/she practices with an ear toward listening. 

Here at velocity our goal is really not about giving you more information but rather having communities come together to listen for the wind , the sound and the song. 

But IS transformation such a random event or process and so we just hope for the best?  AND/OR Are there practices and teachers with this wisdom that  can help us intentionally position ourselves for transformation, to awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge. We believe that there are practices that allow for us to intentionally position ourselves toward this kind of listening…without gullibility or attack…with openness to Hear. 

If you are interested in this kind of teaching, let us know.  Ron would love to connect with people in your area for a day of coming to know together, to teach practices found in our Christian heritage such as centering prayer, awareness, and focusing  that allow us to open our ears to hear.  Let me know if you would like to schedule a day in your area…nancy@velocityculture.com.

On Sunday evenings a group from all over the nation come together to listen for what might be discovered through Scripture…the (R)evolutionary Spirituality of Scripture.  We would love for you to join us this Sunday evening, June 21st at 6:00pm EDT.  If you would like the instructions on how to participate this Sunday evening, just mail me at nancy@velocityculture.com and I will send you instructions.

When the Student is Ready…The Third Portal

Posted in Uncategorized on June 15, 2009 by velocityvortx

There is not only
1.    Pain and
2.    Noetic experiences as portals to transformation

But there is almost always a third thing all the great teachers mention happens in deep transformation..

    3. The meeting of a “teacher” that seems tailor made to take you on the
next steps of the journey.

This may come in personal meeting, in book form, from a seminar or conference…but you have this unmistakable sense “THIS IS THE NEXT LEG OF MY JOURNEY!”  THIS IS REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT”

the Zen Buddhists Say “when the student is ready the teacher will be provided” 

I have had the grace to experience all of these at different times in my life but the bonefishing experience I have shared before was catalytic and introduced me to all three elements within a 30 day window that has forever altered the entire trajectory of my spiritual formation. 

It was in that window of time I was introduced to Anthony De Mello…then the Jesuit Father Frank Stroud from Fordham who had taken over the publishing of De Mello’s work posthumously.  My time at Fordham with Father Stroud is a marker in my life.  My noetic bonefishing experience introduced me to a resources/teacher in the form of books which then led to a relationship with a master teacher and spiritual director in Father Stroud which was followed by a relational pain portal 30 days later.  That all happened 5 years ago last week.

This is one of the great gifts in my life that all three of these experiences came at a time that made a clear shift very obvious, even if painful for me.

So let’s pause….

Pain?
Noetic
Teacher or resource?

Let’s sound off…where do you see or where have you had one of these types of experiences…and if you are willing what age did it happen?

Veils

Posted in Blogroll, personal development, theology on June 11, 2009 by velocityvortx

This physical world we inhabit is not simply a random assortment of parts but resonates from top to bottom with the imprint of a unifying and coherent intelligence.  (From the Wisdom Way of Knowing, Cynthia Bourgeault)

What hinders our seeing this imprint of a unifying and coherent intelligence? What distracts us from experiencing what Edgar Mitchell experienced (absent of space travel)?  Why do we wait for a painful event to unveil our integration and interdependence? 

I am fascinated with veils as the uncovering of something beautiful…a form of awakening. 

But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces… What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.) The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, “This has to be the Son of God!”  (Matthew 27: 52-54 , The Message, Peterson)

The veil/curtain was ripped in two, rocks were split, people who were asleep are now awake, and a captain saw and responded “This has to be the Son of God”.  Can we deny a pattern or propensity to install curtains/veils? I don’t know that Matthew or many theologians would really like my using this verse as such but it is an interesting notion..how we have covered up this ability to see what is, to recognize what is right in front of us, to experience a nonduality…a oneness.

There is a deep and pristinely clear ‘something’ in each of us, regardless of the outer circumstances of our lives, that has the capacity to recognize Wisdom when we meet it, and it is the nature of Wisdom teaching to call this ‘something” forth.  But until the spark of recognition actually goes off in us, Wisdom remains invisible.  (WWK, Bourgeault). 

(Re)cognize- to (again) be aware of… unveil to see what is!

But how do we (re)turn?  What are the tools for this unveiling?  Well there are many practices that are found in the ancient tradition to help position us toward this recognition. While reading about these practices is helpful, being guided through these practices positions us for a way of seeing, knowing and being. 

There is nothing like a day of learning and engaging contemplative practices together as a group.  How amazing would it be for you to bring Ron into your area to learn and practice together!  A Velocity Learning Conversation that focuses on ancient practices will allow for this learning and practice.  If you are interested, hit me with a mail.  Here are the steps.

Logistics of planning a VLC

1.  You indicate a willingness to invite ministry leaders in your area to a VLC by emailing nancy@velocityculture.com or velocitylearning@gmail.com

2.  We calendar a date .

3.  I will mail you a couple of questions  to confirm your contact information and then  I compose an invitation that you can forward in an email to leaders in your church, area churches or your regional contacts.  

4.  I send you the invitation and you mail or forward to your network.  This invitation will include directions and a link to the velocity store where individuals can register. 

5.  You provide a room for large enough for 40 people as well as technological capability to project slides.  You may also decided to provide snacks/drinks the day of the conversation.

6.  Ron comes in for a day of great conversation! 

Loosening Self and Noetic Transformations

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2009 by velocityvortx

Whether you have had a transformative experience of pain or a noetic one these are experiences that shake your worldview and forever change it.  This may or may not be the same as your conversion and will usually have happened somewhere in midlife… So say the experts.  Something happens in midlife where there is enough life experience, enough ups and downs, the birth of a child or three, the death of a parent or friend; that the realities of real life have surrounded us.  Up till this time our illusions of immortality and the ambition to make our dent are drivers.  But something happens as we transcend our illusions and delusions.

Encounters with pain and noetic ah-ha’s permanently alter the way we see and view the world: we have put on different lens.

Transformational portals are for the express purpose of loosening the defining grip of our false selves, our false identities, the old man (I don’t use the Pauline term much because it is non inclusive language AND because it is a static term)

A quick quote from Edgar Mitchell Apollo 14 astronaut recounts his noetic defining shift.

Mitchell recalls sitting in the cramped cabin of the space capsule, he saw planet Earth floating freely in the vastness of space. He was engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness—an epiphany. In Mitchell’s own words: “The presence of divinity became almost palpable, and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes. The knowledge came to me directly.” (taken from inteview quotes recorded by Marilyn Schlitz)

This is one of those times Mitchell moved from what we would call ordinary to spiritual awareness. He was having a noetic moment.

One spiritual director says transformation comes about when you are forced to reconcile your ordinary worldview with insights gained from extraordinary or non ordinary experiences.

What often happens is we have a shift in our awareness that bring us a greatly expanded world of relationships than we had previously perceived.  The world seems more connected…there seems to be a deeper glue, an implicate order holding everything together.

Pain and noetic experiences can and often are catalytic.