What is Spirituality?
Church of the East makes use of various Traditional tools which form part of our heritage.
We make use of various methods of meditation which suit different people at different times. We have a 'prayer-bead' Tradition, the Saikarali, which serves all people at all times. We adhere to a practical philosophy, or lifestyle, of Sacred Sensuality which serves devotees of all ages. Church of the East has a number of ashrama where temporary and permanent resident devotees live out the spiritual ideals of the Tradition. We encourage Scripture studies with the goal of discovering the inner-meaning thereof and making these Truths practical aspects of one's lifestyle. We exhort all devotees to be engaged in works of mercy to the less fortunate in order to learn the higher knowledge which is Love. The ideal state of spirituality is ascetic in its expression. We believe in congregate worship but in individual self-discovery through spiritual exercises and discipline.
The Tradition of Initiation is older than the Church herself while the Sacraments, the Confession of Faith and Divine Liturgy are products of the Church from the first four centuries. We adhere to a Devotional Calendar which serve to remind us not only of those who have tread The Way before us but also to assist us in remembering the finer aspects of walking The Way in ourselves.
How far are we from being perfected?
Critics of the Church have remarked in the past that we: "... talk the talk as if they walk the Walk (as Yesu our Lord walked)". This is true and we will claim that criticism. It is true that we are human and make mistakes. Church of the East is not a gathering of Saints. Saints do not need Church of the East -- they are probably better off in the streets on a Sunday in service of the needy, rather than come to and sit with us in meditation and worship. Church of the East is an affiliation of the heart of people who have come to knowledge of their inability to constantly walk the Way on their own. We are a group of sinners who affiliate because we need the support of others and of the institution called the Church.
True, yes, we talk the talk because we really try hard to walk the walk. So in our fallibility we are sometimes guilty of talking the talk but not fully walking the walk -- at least in our defense we must plead that we are painfully aware of these mistakes and they are our everyday challenges. We hope that the growing number of Mailing Lists will also reflect this.
We try our utmost to be sensitive to the different needs of people in different situations. That is the Church's task -- to serve the people. One does not serve one's own needs but the needs of others. Young people generally have a different spiritual need. Some people go through phases where theology and philosophy serves their spiritual needs while other people need more fellowship and some require retreat. The Church always fails some people because, as St. Paul discovered, it is expected to be all things to all people. The reason why St. Paul experienced that sense of frustration has not changed much over the time. The reason is that few respond to the Divine call to take up the cross of ministry. For the Church to be successful it needs the members of the Church, that
Community is an important devotional and spiritual aspect we should never exclude from our path. We grow in the context of community as we bounce ourselves off the questions and tests of every day life.
It is in relationship to community where our weak points show up
The community gives us opportunity to discover our weak point and to start working on them. It is too easy to be mistaken in thinking that one has cultivated adequate love to approach the Light of Love, when one is living as a recluse in a mountain. Take the recluse to the community and test his/her love as it is faced with the thieving drug addict, the septic hobo, the rich and lascivious, the egocentric mammon-maniac, the 'righteous' evangelizing condemning Christian, the wayward teenager and the screaming baby, the honking taxi and the hysterical shopper... We are ultimately tested in the community. Yesu reminds us that it is easy to love one's family, even sinners do that, but it is the un-lovable that we have to learn to love, in order to learn love.
Where two or three get together...
Spiritual energy runs through a like-minded group as electricity runs through a transformer. A properly set group-mind can amplify spiritual energy to 'mind blowing' extent. This is another aspect of community in one's spiritual path which should not be neglected.
Individuation of society
It is a paradox that the East, with its history of emphasis on individual spiritual responsibility, still functions well in social communities who get together to form extended families and care circles--while the West, with its history of emphasis on communal spiritual responsibility and the dictum 'extra ecclesium nulla salos' (outside the church there is no salvation), ended up being a collection of individuals who feel no responsibility or fraternity to one another.
Western society is breaking up and people are living as islands. These people are robbed of communal care, group loyalty, sharing of love on the many fronts that caring communities provide, and they are nurtured to be egocentric lonely individuals. This is not good breeding ground for holistic inner growth, for learning to be tolerant, compassionate and humble.
Church of the East has long, since the 4th century, been surviving in, and because of, devotional communities. The social and political world is not always friendly to people who think and believe differently and often persecute such 'others'. Sometimes the effort to keep roof over head and clothes on the bottom becomes a full time struggle that allow precious little opportunity for deeper spiritual quests. In times like these a devotional community may be an answer to one's future. The devotional community is usually, somehow, self sufficient and the new family that one adopts becomes one's communal spiritual school, and the place where one can learn humility, simplicity, compassion, and more...
A common form of devotional community is the ashram. An ashram is a place of spiritual striving and always sets this as the priority over other things. Traditionally ashrams operate on rather rigid programme rules and work very long hours to fit in daily tasks, community work and the priority of spiritual study and practice.
Note: the aura around Jesus' head, pictured on the left here, indicates the pure white aura of the seventh chakra.
This is an important question.
In the West, many Eastern spiritual principles are conveyed out of context. We found most people have an understanding of what an aura is (its a vibe;)) but they generally lack a solid foundation by which to understand the principle well enough to help them make sense of related concepts, and help filter nonsense from sense.
Following is a properly insufficient and rather rough explanation of how Church of the East devotees knows an aura.
Any conduit for a flow of energy has an aura around it. The aura is usually not the energy itself, rather more like a sheath of subtle energy that flows with the energy. Technicians working on high voltage lines are constantly working in the aura of these lines and they describe it as a sine wave that feels like thick air which one enters upon coming closer to it. Technicians working with PC-boards and microchips also know of the aura of a power line on the board, and it has to be accounted for in the design. Generators and batteries also show auras of energy around them.
The human is a large and intricate generator, battery, and conduit of various types of energy. In Sanskrit, these energies are called Citta (spiritual energy), Prana (mind or soul energy) and Akasa (a more crude energy responsible for vibrating molecules, maintaining atomic structures, etc). Each of these three 'types' of energy has many levels, or different frequencies, within its 'bandwidth'.
The physical body's most known PC-board is the nervous system with its network of nerve conduits. The physical body's CPU (central processing unit) is the brain. These have auras Akasa auras and Prana auras around them.
The mental body (soul) has an extensive network of prana conduits called meridians. Meridians have prana auras around them. The CPU system for this aspect of the human is more complex and consists of a seven-part integrated unit (like a PC motherboard with seven processors), and each processor is called a major chakra. Each chakra has an aura around it.
The spiritual being--us-our real and eternal selves--integrates with all the above systems and holds it all together to form a holistic unit called a human being. The spirit, being a large and powerful Citta energy field, has an aura around it.
The human being carries with it a complicated aura of Akasa, Prana and Citta energy. This energy field, commonly called the human aura, is experienced by other humans, and can be seen (in various forms) by most trained devotees. The human aura vibrates at any of thousands of different frequencies reflecting the state of the human's mind, body and spirit.
The church divides the year into eight seasons. Each season has a particular theme that influences the church's worship, reading, teaching and preaching activities during that season. One can also follow the Liturgical calendar in one's own spirituality and be guided by it in meditation and prayer life. A Lectionary (set Scripture readings) stipulates one specific reading to be done for each day of the year, and is also compiled according to the Liturgical Calendar to celebrate the theme of the season.
The Liturgical year of the Church starts on the first Sunday of September. The eight seasons are:
|Creation ( Sept 1 to Oct 12)|
|Paradise ( Oct 13 to Nov 9)|
|The Search ( Nov 10 to Dec 28)|
|Holy Mother (Dec 29 to '98 Feb 15)|
|Holy Father ( Feb 16 to April 5)|
|The Way ( April 6 to May 24)|
|Prodigal Child ( May 25 to July 12)|
|Glory ( July 13 to Aug 30)|
Each season of the Church reminds us of a particular aspect of God's activities and our return path back Home. Some communities like to change the colours of the church vestments for each season, this can be useful to remind us of the season.
We regard spirituality as the immediate result of one's commitment to walk The Way. We may do things to help us develop and maintain our spirituality -- such as to study Scripture, be attentive to Initiation, do Meditation, attend congregate Worship, maintain a Holistic balance, do Works of Mercy, maintain our physical bodies and our mental states, etc. But the immediate result of all of the above and whatever else we do is our spirituality.
One's Spirituality is not only a state of mind, it is the result of one's state of mind -- it is seen in one's lifestyle and day to day conduct.
One's Spirituality is not only a gauge of the relative health of one's spirit -- it is an holistic expression of the state of the spirit.
Spirituality is expressed in one's lifestyle and daily conduct. Is is also that which governs the mind's processes.
Thank you for visiting our little temple
May the Peace of God be yours, may you gain the Light you seek and may Truth come to you at the time you require it.