Session 1: Setting Out on the Path
Awareness is your birthright and is available to you in each and every moment.
You are a child of the universe, called each and every moment into a relationship with everything around and inside you. You have come into existence brimming with life and full of potential. You have the capacity for greater awareness.
I commit to the path of deepening awareness and choose to entrust myself to Loving Presence. I have confidence that I will discover what it is I need to know and what it is I am called to do. I am open to learning and to being changed.
Tuesday, January 11:
Oh do you have time
to linger for just a little while
out of your busy and very important day
for the goldfinches that have gathered
in a field of thistles for a musical battle,
to see who can sing the highest note,
or the lowest, or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks drink the air
as they strive melodiously not for your sake
and not for mine and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing just to be alive
on this fresh morning in the broken world.
I beg of you, do not walk by
without pausing to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.
Mary Oliver, “Invitation,” A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).
Instructions for Sacred Reading.
Sit somewhere quiet each day. Try 10 minutes, morning and night.
STEP 1: Focus or sink in – feel the feeling
When the first indications of an emotion or physical sensation arise, focus on the sensation in the body. Where in the body is the emotion felt? Feel it without judgment.
Don’t think about why the emotion is there or what it means, don’t tell stories – just feel it.
When we can stop and observe the emotion without repressing or justifying it, we can more easily dissipate the energy in it. There is no need to do anything – just notice.
STEP 2: Welcome – The Turning Point
Whatever the sensation is, welcome it by saying internally, “Welcome, pain” or “Welcome, frustration”, “Welcoming joy” and so on. It is the sensation that was felt in the first step that is being welcomed, not the situation that brought it on. By doing this, an inner hospitality and unconditional presence is developed. By welcoming the sensation, we are thanking our body for alerting us to the fullness of this moment. Our attitude toward strong emotions that arise from these situations is transformed with practice.
STEP 3: Letting go – Freedom to Choose
The letting go step incorporates the attitude of “let it be”. Surrender requires us to leave behind our wants, needs, and demands on the spiritual journey, giving up the adversarial or grasping position. Don’t rush to let go – stay with the physical sensation, alternating between observing and welcoming. Let go of the need to fix anything, to attach stories to the feeling, and wait until the emotional spike or sensation has passed. Do not attach to a happy ending. The dissipation of the emotion will make space for heart-centred awareness, creating the inner freedom needed for conscious action, freeing us from the mercy of patterned reactions and victimhood.
What do you need to say “no” to in your life to make space for commitment to this program?
What are the longings that you bring to this process? What hopes do you carry? What is your Intention?
What does it mean to be a seeker?
Tell us about your spiritual path so far.
What are you looking for?
Session 2: Awakening
February 8, 2022
Every day offers me the opportunity to awaken to my essential nature. Awakening is a natural and transformative process.
As we awaken we develop greater clarity about who we truly are. Growing in awareness, we are able to see that the experiences and circumstances in front of us are indeed the best teachers for our continuing growth and evolution. If you pay attention you will easily discover the tasks that are necessary for your inner and outer fulfillment.
Life is the Great Teacher. I commit to paying attention to the unfolding of each day and to trust that the circumstances of my life hold all that is necessary for my expanding awareness.
Poem: Danna Faulds
# 1. Value without Limit
Your world is full of things, events, people, ideas and energies that you scarcely take it all in. It is easy to lose sight of fullness and therefore to fail to know its richness. Your task each day is to keep this thought constantly in mind: “Everything I see and experience holds limitless value. It’s worth cannot be measured. The worth in each experience, every sensation, each idea, every emotion, every perception is immeasurable. I shall seek the value of everything.”
Your task is to look at everything possible as of infinite worth to you. Deliberately do not place the value of one thing over another. This feeling, this warmth, this object, this conversation, this word, this plant, this person....they each contain value without end.
Adapted from A Book of Games
#2. Grounding Breath Meditation
Focus your attention on your breath. Shift your focus, your attention, and your awareness away from this page, from these words, from your thoughts, and from thinking, to simply focus on the physical sensation of breathing. It is useful to start with one, intentionally deep breath. Put all your attention on the physical feeling of inhaling that breath, and then of releasing it. Then just allow your focus to remain on breathing, without controlling your breath. Let go of thoughts and thinking. It may take you 10 seconds, or it may take you a minute, to feel as though you have made that shift and for your attention to be tuned into the physical sensation of your breathing.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
translated by Coleman Barks, Essential Rumi
Reflecting on your life in the light of Awareness, ask yourself:
What were the moments that led you to search for “something more?”
What have been your deepest moments of understanding?
What have been your ideas about the Sacred, (Amida, Being, Presence, God, Source, etc)?
When did spiritual hunger or curiosity begin to awaken in you?
Have you tended to be open to this kind of teaching or do you tend to be rather resistant?
Name the questions that are arising for you.
Session 3: Awakening
March 8, 2022
Amida is calling me into a bond of ever deeping loving-awareness.
Your purpose is to open the gateway into the mysterious unknown and to mature in the direction of ever-expanding love. Everything and everyone is a revelatory possibility. You are unfolding in the direction of greater life and love.
The Ground of Being holds and supports me. I promise to appreciate all that I receive and to acknowledge that the Great Unknown is a constant flow of revelation. I will pay attention.
Session Recording (Link)
#1 Create a sacred space in your home and commit to sitting there for several minutes each day. In your sacred space, you may wish to include symbols of the qualities you wish to embody, pictures of ancestors, angels, saints, teachers and bodhisattvas meaningful to you, earth elements, symbols of your particular religious tradition, poetry, scriptures etc. Send Tanya a picture of your space.
Dryness and Understanding 22
When drought comes on the rice crop, it all withers and dies: Thank Heaven then that a rainstorm bursts, soaking it - Flowers, fruit, trees, and grass are all fed to their roots,
And the beginning of knowing is that rain is worth Everything.
Kaun Yins’ Promise 53
It’s unwise to always follow your own mind,
It sounds like a dragon's drone or a tiger’s laugh - Look up at Heaven now - it has a Milky Way of Stars... I tell you recognition and awareness will come in time.
Concluding Song- Magnificat by Simon de Voil
1. Visio Divina- Read this one-page article and gaze upon the images.
Article: Awakening to the Divine Feminine
2. John Makransky - Awakening Through Love Unveiling Your Deepest Goodness.
3. Book: Ilia Delio - The Unbearable Wholeness of Being- God, Evolution, and the Power of Love.
4. Book: Martin Palmer, Jay Ramsay with Man-Ho Kwok - The Promise of Kuan Yin, Wisdom, Miracles and Compassion.
What does it mean to you that you are a “receiver”? Does the universe seem benevolent to you? If so, how?
When and in what ways do you experience love? What obstacles do you experience to receiving or offering love?
When considering the divine/Amida/Loving-presence etc, what images appeal to you? How might these images be informing your life?
Regarding discernment, does it make sense to you that the heart is a reliable source of inner knowing? Do you consider yourself more a heart or head person, and how do you experience the difference?
Session 4: Heal
May 3, 2022
I am welcoming my experiences of disconnection and pain, moment by moment, because they offer me a glimpse of my shadow. Understanding my shadow is the gateway to true awareness and healing.
Your purpose is to grow into the most integrated, thus holy person you can be. This is not an arduous journey, rather when we relax and let go of all that we keep in the shadows we are liberated. The journey of healing is part of what it is to be human, and it is never complete. The process is itself a holy endeavour and makes for a noble life.
I commit to the path of healing, acknowledging the messy and destructive dimensions of my being. I have confidence that I am accompanied while in the direction of greater integration and wholeness/holiness. I am open to the process.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Robert Bly - A Little Book on the Human Shadow
Robert Johnson - Owning Your Own Shadow
What is your definition of the shadow?
What have you discovered about your shadow?
Was anything surprising, disturbing, or liberating?
What did these discoveries feel like?
Comment on: “I bear witness to my persona. I bear witness to my persona”. How do you connect shadow work with spirituality?
Session 5: Heal
June 7, 2022
Amida invites me to grow in awareness, to heal and to forgive. I lay my hardships in the lap of the Buddha.
Healing includes forgiveness of self and of others. Your purpose is to soften your heart and allow for the possibility of true healing. Healing is made possible through humility and entrusting.
Sacred Reading 1:
If you love truth for its own sake, the truth will free you. But if you hope the truth will free you, you cannot be free. You must love the truth for its own sake, without hope. Then there’s no question of freedom/no freedom, no question of essence/no essence, no question of enlightenment/no enlightenment. It’s just love of truth, and that’s it. Nothing else is there. Anything else will bring discord. Accepting what is, understanding what is there, loving the truth that is happening at every second is the natural state, the state without personality, the state of no-mind, is the state of no-division. It is the state of hanging loose.
Diamond Heart Book Two, Ch. 5
Sacred Reading 2:
The Heart Sutra pdf
Session Recording: Link
1. Refuge Practice: pdf
2. Inquiry Practice: pdf
Diving in the Inner Ocean: An Introduction to Personal Transformation Through Diamond Inquiry. By Dominic C. Liber.
Please feel free to choose just one question if that seems more helpful to you.
What is your current definition of a heart of a buddha
Where in your own life do you feel a need to “relax and release” thoughts or feelings?
What does forgiveness mean to you? Does the idea of forgiveness connect with your faith life?
Are there areas in your life that you feel are in need of healing?
Where and with whom do you get the support you need?
Do you have a faith community? Is this community helpful to your healing? If so, in what ways?
Session 6: Heal
July 12, 2022
I will pay attention to my dreams. I will make the effort to record my dreams and to reflect upon them, knowing them to be the healing bearers of divine wisdom.
I am led in my life by an inner guide of which dreams are an important part. Dreams are a trustworthy and compassionate guide linked to my deepest self.
I have been given a sensitive, empathic and compassionate inner guide, which is deeply united to my inner spirit. Dreams will gently and sometimes firmly or fiercely, open me to wisdom. Dreams are wisdom guides presenting me with a doorway that I can step through and unlock my greater good.
Top Jungian Analyst: On Confronting the Shadow
Practices: Remember your dreams
"The Breeze at Dawn
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the door sill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep."
"If you put on shoes that are too tight and walk out across an empty plain, you will not feel the freedom of the place unless you take off your shoes. Your shoe construction has you confirmed. At night before sleeping you take off your tight shoes, and your soul releases into a place it knows. Dreams glide deeper." -Rumi
"There is an essential wakefulness that directs the dream, and that will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are." - Rumi
SAVERY, BERNE, WILLIAMS, Dreams and Spiritual Growth.
TAYLOR, J., Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill.
MELLICK, Jill, The Natural Artistry of Dreams.
Notes from James pdf
How significant are dreams in your life?
What symbols have appeared within your dreams?
Can you recall a significant dream? Have you discovered its meaning?
What feelings arise in your dreams?
In what ways have you responded to your dreams?
Reflect on the connection between awakening, healing, and spirituality as they relate to your dream life.
Session 7: Engagement
September 13, 2022
Amida, the source of our being, invites us into a compassionate relationship with all sentient beings.
Your purpose is to discover the tools that will allow you to listen deeply, and discern when and how to be of service in the world.
I promise to do what I can to listen deeply and to respond with loving-kindness.
Powerpoint presentation: (link)
Spend one month exploring a tool for listening deeply. It may be journaling, drawing, singing/chanting, praying, listening to others speak, etc.. There are many ways to listen deeply, and the one you choose is unique to you. Record your experience in some way.
Here is an experiment in “giving.” Every day for a week, single out one person and do one act of deliberate kindness. You may or may not like this person but do the act deliberately and with your whole heart. You may not wish to say anything to this person about the kind deed. Take note of these acts upon your own being and in what you see in the other.
Try this experiment, do you know what truly hurts the people with whom you are closest? Think this through, and make a list. If you can, check it out with the person and see how close you are. How did this exercise feel, and how might it cause you to change behaviours in the future
What does it mean for you to listen deeply?
How do you define an “other-centred life” or a “Bodhisattva Ideal”?
What is your personal commitment to sacred action?
Session 8: Engagement
October 4, 2022
Godde invites us to explore the mystery of life and death and to learn more about the fullness of human potentiality.
Your purpose is to be with the unfolding now, and to allow the contemplation of mortality to inform your soul. How might this contemplation be of service in the world?
I promise to try and fearlessly face the uncertainty of the future and to be courageous in my service to others and to the world.
Four Questions to help guide Spiritual Maturation
Am I willing to fully examine personal mortality and impermanence?
As I examine and investigate, is there *something* very subtle in my direct experience that is beyond change, that is timeless, and does not pass away with every dissolving experience?
Can I abide in Unknowing while still cultivating faith in this most intimate inner mystery?
Am I willing to 'take the backward step and shine the light within' so that I might unfold a path to peace beyond this unending flux of phenomenal change?
Session 9: Engagement
November 1, 2022
It is your purpose to discover how to give yourself to the world in gratitude and humility.
May I honour the gifts I have been graced with, and use them to ease the suffering of all beings.
SHANTIDEVA PRAYER By Shantideva
May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector of those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need
For as long as space endures,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I, too, abide
To dispel the misery of the world.
PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace,
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong,
I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek to comfort rather than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood; to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.
The reflective questions this month are based on the adapted reading: The Bodhisattva Ideal by Ashoka,
The bodhisattva ideal
The teachings of Buddhism are about your life, about being the person you are. The practices of Buddhism are about being willing to be intimate with yourself, with your idiosyncrasies. So when we talk about compassion and the ideal of the bodhisattva, we are talking about how we as ordinary people—with this body, this mind, this life, these problems—can find generosity, effort, and wisdom right here and now. We realize that they are always available.
Bodhisattvas are beings who are dedicated to the universal awakening, or enlightenment, of everyone. They exist as guides and providers of relief to suffering beings. They are models who exemplify lives dedicated to eradicating suffering in the world. But as we go along, it is important to remember that as soon as you are struck with the urge or intention to take on such a bodhisattva practice, you are included in the ranks of the bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas can be awesome in their power, radiance, and wisdom, and they can be as ordinary as your next-door neighbour. Bodhisattvas appear wherever they can be most helpful.
A buddha, or awakened one, is a being who has fully realized liberation from the suffering of delusions and conditioning. This awakening is realized through deep experiential awareness of the undefiled nature of all beings and all phenomena, which are seen to be essentially pristine and clear. Buddhas see that everything is all right, just as it is. This insight, in some sense, liberates all beings who may not yet realize this truth of openness and freedom themselves because of their own confusion.
A bodhisattva is a being who carries out the work of the buddhas, vowing not to personally settle into the salvation of final Buddhahood until she or he can assist all beings throughout the vast reaches of time and space to fully be free. A bodhisattva is a buddha with her sleeves rolled up.
On the bodhisattva path, we follow teachings about generosity, patience, ethical conduct, meditative balance, and insight into what is essential, so we can come to live in a way that benefits others. At the same time, we learn compassion for ourselves and see that we are not separate from the people we have imagined are estranged from us. Self and others heal together.
Reflective Questions: Answer one or several as you deem helpful.
Who in your life has demonstrated the bodhisattva ideal either by helping you personally or by helping others?
Give an example of something you have done recently that reflects the goodness of the Buddha.
What is your definition of compassionate action?
What barriers do you experience in giving yourself selflessly to the world?
Do you include kindness to yourself in your understanding of the bodhisattva ideal?
How do you hope to grow in your desire and practice of serving others?