February 11, 2013
The book Essential Spirituality offers exercises that will help you improve your quality of life.
A ”Fond Farewell” Article
When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.
Today’s Fond Farewell is by the late Chris Burdett-Parr, who played an invaluable part in the early days of Support4Change.
Essential Spirituality: The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind by Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Review by Chris Burdett-Parr
This marvelous book has particular resonance with me for several reasons — the first of which is the way in which it defines and addresses the subject of love. The second reason is contained in the book’s subtitle: Exercises from the World’s Religions to Cultivate Kindness, Love, Joy, Peace, Vision, Wisdom, and Generosity.
Essential Spirituality truly does encompass, in a wonderfully refreshing and knowledgeable fashion, the world’s religions when addressing the challenges we all wrestle with as thinking and feeling human beings — fear, anger, motivation, happiness, gratitude, love, ethics, wisdom, awareness, peace, and as this quote illustrates, one of my personal favorites — the balance between science and spirituality:
There is no war between mature spirituality with its emphasis on directly testing claims and practices for ourselves, and mature science, with its similar emphasis on direct observation and testing. Consequently we can, and should, take note of relevant findings from modern science whenever they throw light on spirituality. Psychology in particular is now exploring relevant areas such as meditation, states of consciousness, and transpersonal development. These studies have thrown light on how spiritual practices work, confirmed some of their benefits, and led to the birth of “transpersonal psychology,” a field of psychology dedicated to integrating perennial wisdom and modern science. Essential Spirituality includes contemporary ideas and research findings wherever they illuminate spiritual practices. This makes possible a new way to assess spiritual claims.
Those of us lucky enough to have experienced love (whether giving or receiving) in its most powerful form — unconditional, infinite and profound — may have, along with many of the most brilliant minds in history, tried to define it adequately.
Rumi, the thirteenth century poet described it this way: “. . . love is the astrolabe that sights into the mysteries of God,” and in the same poem: “. . . if you want to expound on love, take your intellect out and let it lie down in the mud. It’s no help.”*
I found this book to come the closest to a satisfying definition of love that I have read in a long time:
Even at this stage, we think of love as only an emotion generated by and limited to our own minds. Yet many of the great religions paint a very different picture of love because at its deepest, love becomes so profound, so awesome, that it seems as much divine as human. This love is not personal but transpersonal, not only part of us but also part of the cosmos, not limited to our individual minds but part of the universal Mind, Spirit, or God. In fact, love may be a fundamental aspect of the very nature of reality, perhaps even, as the Encyclopedia of Religion summarizes it, “the single most potent force in the universe, a cosmic impulse that creates, maintains, directs, informs, and brings to its proper end every living thing.
* From The Essential Rumi, New Expanded Edition, HarperCollins: 302 pp.
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