SAT CHIT ANAND
- DECEMBER 2009 NEWSLETTER -
INTERFAITH MEDITATION CHAPEL
You and I are the same. You are the Self now, and can never be anything else.
Throw your worries to the wind, turn within and find peace.
- Ramana Maharshi (Indian sage)
About 6 months ago, a man approached me while walking on the beach. "Are you the lady who runs the Buddhist Centre?" he asked. "I am Father Johan, the Catholic Priest, and I would like to talk to you about India - I am going there on a pilgrimage soon." This was the beginning of a wonderful new friendship.
In September, I went on a retreat at Temenos Retreat Centre in McGregor. Temenos is "a sanctuary, a place of beautiful gardens and sacred spaces." What is unique and special about Temenos is that all religions are embraced. Those who have been into the little Chapel will recall the beautiful painting of Jesus and Buddha embracing each other. This was my second visit to Temenos, and I left feeling inspired to create something of beauty for all to share, something of universal value ...
I couldn't sleep the night I got home. In the early hours of the morning, I had a vision of our new Interfaith Meditation Chapel. Now that vision has been manifested into a reality. It has been wonderful watching an unused carport being transformed into a space of beauty: 3 long thin arched windows with deep recesses looking into the garden under our majestic rubber tree, and a door with sandblasted windows bearing the symbol of the eternal knot representing interconnectedness and friendship. Inside a wrought iron chandelier, and an empty space ... to be filled with your presence.
Outer changes in our lives often mirror something that is happening within ourselves. For a long time, I have felt estranged from the religion of my birth. Now it is as if something in my heart has opened up, allowing me to embrace the Christian faith with a higher understanding as viewed from a mystical perspective. Sometimes we travel a long circular journey to arrive back on familiar territory and encounter it in a different way.
It seems that Existence has been gently nudging me in the direction of becoming more inclusive, in other words, not just a Buddhist Centre. But to bring the wisdom of Buddhism - which is one of the most amazing philosophies alive in the world today - and make this accessible to those with open hearts and minds. In particular the treasure of Buddhism lies in its meditation teachings, which are universal and have the power to heal and transform and put one in touch with one's true nature that exists beyond the ego/personality. Many people will not come to, or stay at, a Buddhist Centre. So we are opening our doors to all those with a spiritual inclination that goes beyond the boundaries of this or that religion. Because there seem to be more similarities than differences.
"Within Christianity there seems to be a number of diverse interpretations or understandings of the concept of God ... [including] a profound mystical understanding of the concept of God, a way of looking at God not so much in terms of a personal deity but rather as a ground of being. Yet qualities such as compassion can also be attributed to that divine ground of being. Now if we are to understand God in such terms - as an ultimate ground of being - then it becomes possible to draw parallels with certain elements in Buddhist thought and practice ..." Extract from: The Good Heart: His Holiness the Dalai Lama explores the heart of Christianity and of humanity.
Ultimately, we are all seeking to drop the illusion of a separate self that manifests in an ego-centric perspective and become aware of our true nature that is one with, or interconnected with all that is, that is glorious, that is Divine - by whatever name you call it.
"Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed ... I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other." - Thomas Merton (Christian Trappist monk and keen proponent of interfaith understanding).
Next year, there will be a Blessing Ceremony and consecration of our new Interfaith Meditation Chapel. It still has to be named and decorated and integrated into the larger scheme of things. This will only happen on return from my annual one month personal retreat to India - this time to a yoga ashram in South India, where I will be doing a one-month yoga teacher training retreat which includes studying the Bhagavad Gita under a Vedanta Master. Interestingly, the ashram is near a Christian ashram founded by Father Bede Griffiths (Christian monk and mystic) called Saccidananda (a variation of the Sanskrit name Sat Chit Anand).
Wishing everyone a spiritual Christmas and a wonderful New Year. May all beings enjoy happiness and the true causes of happiness. May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all find peace in their hearts and minds, and become a source of peace and healing in the world.
"O Nobly Born, O you of glorious origins, remember your radiant true nature, the essence of being. Trust it. Return to it. It is home." - Buddha
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