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WHAT IS IYENGAR YOGA?

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WHAT IS IYENGAR YOGA?

 

iyengar-asana-bigger11Iyengar Yoga, named after and developed by BKS Iyengar, is a form of Hatha Yoga that has an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture and breath control. The development of strength, mobility and stability is gained through the asanas.

Iyengar has systematized over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama (with variations of many of them) ranging from the basic to advanced. This helps ensure that students progress gradually by moving from simple poses to more complex ones and develop their mind, body and spirit step-by-step.

Iyengar Yoga often makes use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimizing the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. Iyengar Yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga.

Iyengar yoga focuses particularly on three aspects. Correct body alignment allows the body to develop harmoniously in an anatomically correct way so that the student suffers no injury or pain when practicing correctly. As all bodies are different and people have different weaknesses and strengths. Props were developed for use in Iyengar yoga; and are objects like wooden blocks, chairs, blankets and belts that help one adjust or support oneself in the different postures so that one can work in a range of motion that is safe and effective.

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An added benefit is that although the therapeutic aspects of asanas and pranayama have been known for centuries, the emphasis on correct anatomical
alignment and methods of working have refined the therapeutic aspects of Yoga. Thus practice of Iyengar yoga will often result in eliminating aches and pains, improve posture etc. but Iyengar Yoga can also be used to treat many ailments, including extremely serious medical conditions, under the supervision of a suitably experienced teacher. The other two key aspects of asana practice in the Iyengar system are correct sequencing in which there is a powerful cumulative effect achieved by practicing asanas in particular sequences. The concept of timings means postures are held for considerable lengths of time to let the effects of the poses penetrate deeper within the individual

Pranayama is started once a firm foundation in asana has been established as physically the student requires the alignment, flexibility, lung capacity and training necessary to sit and breathe correctly while practicing. Pranayama gives numerous physical benefits including toning the circulatory, digestive, nervous and respiratory systems, activating the internal organs and creating a feeling of energy and calmness. Equally importantly it also brings the mind and senses under control and makes the individual fit for the experience of meditation.

iyengar-yoga-centre-singaporeOne may, get the impression that Iyengar yoga is just gymnastics and deep breathing or only Asana and Pranayama. This is incorrect.      Asanas and Pranayama are merely used as the tools with which to master all 8 aspects of Astanga yoga. Mastery of the body is the gateway to mastery of the mind. Consider the following: The whole human being from the outermost skin to the innermost being (or soul) is interconnected. For example, if the body is ill, the mind also becomes depressed, lethargic and bad tempered and if the mind is stressed the body becomes tense. The intensity and depth to which Iyengar yoga is practiced on the physical level does affect and change the mind and spirit.

In doing yoga asanas the whole body and mind must learn to become involved. One has to spread one’s awareness to the smallest parts of the body simultaneously so the mind becomes alert, attentive and sharp. One learns to breathe smoothly deeply and evenly so one’s energy (prana) can flow without obstruction and one learns to make the mind quiet, passive and receptive thus promoting a meditative state of mind. This makes the body fit for Pranayama.

Through asanas one also learns an awareness and application of ethics – Yama and Niyama. For example one of the Niyamas is sauca (Purity). An example: iyengar-yogaBecause yoga builds up a very sharp awareness of the state of the body and mind, one becomes very aware of ones state of health and begins to nurture it. So after too much eating and drinking, the body suffers and the mind becomes dull. As one spends more and more time practicing yoga, the obvious contradiction and self-destructiveness becomes more difficult to reconcile and one begins to moderate ones eating and drinking, leading to a more pure lifestyle. Another example of this is the Yama of non-violence. Although superficially Yamas are social ethics and Niyama personal disciplines, both can be applied equally to any situation such as society or the physical body.  While doing Parsvakonasana one may experience pain in the front knee and assume it is at fault for causing one discomfort. But in reality the knee is causing pain because it is forced into an unnatural position by the thigh and buttock working lazily. So the buttock and thigh do the violence by being lazy but we blame the knee. The remedy is to make the buttock and thigh work correctly then the knee can function properly and the discomfort disappears. As one’s sensitivity in the postures increases one also realizes that not only the buttock and thigh but all parts of the body to a greater or lesser extent have had their role in the violence to the knee. This thinking can be applied to society where it is easy to find the roots of violence in unhappy homes, childhood neglect and poor education.

Pranayama is the essential prerequisite for correct true meditation.  It is theoretically possible to achieve a meditative state of mind by merely sitting and concentrating, in practice it is not possible for 99% of people. In meditation the mind is absolutely silent but razor sharp. Many people go to meditation classes, for many years even. But few achieve this state of consciousness; the mind has too many “portals.” It is like a sieve full of water. Whichever hole you block, water continues to pour out of the rest. The mind is too subtle, cunning and restless to be controlled and made still. Therefore, Pranayama is recommended as the breath is used to still the mind. Smooth subtle and controlled breathing is far easier to master than the mind and when the breath becomes smooth and steady so does the mind. Then one can learn to withdraw the senses from external objects and cultivate the state of mind where the experience of meditation can come.

imagesMeditation is a state of mind that cannot be learnt and thus the practice of sitting and attempting to meditate is not a guarantee of results in itself. Rather the foundations of self-culture have to be built through practicing the first five disciplines of yoga. The experience of meditation comes when the student is ready.

This leads to another keynote of Iyengar yoga: meditation in action. If one can meditate on a flame, grain of rice or other subject, why not meditate on the posture one is performing? So, as a student does yoga postures the mind learns to become aware of the different parts of the body. At first the mind moves from part to part but with training learns to become absorbed in all parts of the body evenly at the same time. One learns to refine one’s awareness and penetrate deeper into the body in order to achieve more accurate and thus effective and comfortable postures. So the mind is trained to achieve a meditative state of being. Although pranayama is the real key to preparation for meditation, the progress made is applicable to asanas which can be practiced to such a degree of refinement that one meditates in the posture.

In sum, the Iyengar method of Yoga may be said to define itself as different from other styles of Yoga by 3 key elements, namely technique, sequence and timing: (1) Technique means that in practice one learns ever finer adjustments in the alignment of how one performs one’s asana and pranayama; (2) Sequence refers to the sequences in which asana and pranayama are practiced. For example, by varying which postures are practiced after which, the mental and emotional effects of the practice can be intensified in a manner not otherwise possible in order to bring about changes to the whole being including ones spiritual evolution; and (3) Timing refers to the length of time spent in postures or pranayama.  Postures cannot be done swiftly or without awareness. It takes time to move into a posture and become stable. When this has been achieved then one remains stably for some time to intensify the depth of the posture and so extract its benefit. Otherwise the potential effects and benefits remain small compared to what is possible.

Kathy Kiefer

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REIKI AND MASSAGE THERAPY

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REIKI AND MASSAGE THERAPY

What is a Reiki massage? Reiki is not really a massage, but can be combined with massage for reiki healing.   Reiki healing is the usage of spiritual energy to heal a person’s aura or situation.

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

Reiki healing is the usage of spiritual energy to heal a person’s aura or situation.   The word “Reiki” actually translates to “Universal Life Force Energy.”   Massage is the process or rubbing or kneading different parts of the body for therapeutic reasons or purposes.

The word Reiki comes from two Japanese words –Rei which means “Gods Wisdom or the Higher Power” and KI which is “life force energy.” So Reiki is actually “spiritually guided force energy.”

A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows though and around you.   Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and well-being. Many have reported miraculous results.

Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing an self-improvement that everyone can use.

It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.

An ancient Japanese massage technique, reiki is a formula to help stress reduction and promote healing. This is a hands-on healing technique through massage that generates life force energy flowing through the body. If the energy levels are low individuals can feel fatigue, experience negative emotions, and have physical complications with organs and glands. Various healing techniques that enable the qi and meridians to connect with the chakras in the body exist. These are all energy fields that, when depleted, result in emotional and physical ill health. Here you will learn what a reiki massage is and what it can do for you.

The patient is fully clothed and lays face up on a massage table. The practitioner places their hands in specific positions on the body, starting from the head and ending at the feet. These positions used depend on the energy levels of the patient, as there may be blockages in some organs more than others. The patient then lays face down so the practitioner can perform treatment on the back. The practitioner stores energy in their own body so the heat and flow can translate to energize the meridians, qi, and chakras in the body.

The main benefits are that the patient feels less stress and relaxed. Depending on the depletion of energy in the body, the patient may feel heat radiating from the practitioner. They also may feel a tingling sensation that is the energy coming to life and connecting within the body. As a relaxation technique, some patients fall asleep during the session. After treatment, the patient may feel sleepy yet as they move around, they will be energized more than before.

Reiki and massage are two separate things.   The usual treatment of Reiki massage begins at the head and works its way through the seven different chakras.   The hand placements coincide with these chakras or energy centers of the physical body.

Reiki massage has been used to help patients manage pain and to increase their quality of living. Reiki massage is different from normal massage because the practitioner does not knead or manipulate the tissues or muscles of the patient.   Instead the hands of the practitioner remain still, and the energy of healing is sent through the channels of the practitioner into the patient.

If you are nervous about your first massage treatment combining Reiki and traditional massage, there is no need.   The practitioner will not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.   You remain completely clothed, as it is not necessary for there to be skin-to-skin contact.   Reiki massage can even be used to send energy to broken bones or injuries that are covered by casts and bandages.

Reiki is also used to treat conditions such as TMJ (also known as lock-jaw), muscle pain, tension, stress, injury healing, pain management and over 60 other medical ailments.   IN the Western world, there are four different areas of chakras of the body used for treatment.   They are the head, body, legs/fee and back, respectively.

Reiki treatments are said to be one hundred percent safe; they don’t incur any side effects or injuries.  There are sensations that are felt, but are different for different people. Some people experience a sensation of warmth or tingling.   Others experience a spirit of relaxation and balance.

Reiki is a form of faith healing developed by a Japanese Buddhist in the early part of the 20th century. Pronounced “ray-key,” this complementary therapy is known as a road to healing, and a system of   divine enlightenment.

The word “reiki” in Japanese roughly translates as “universal life form energy.” It would explain why reiki can only be   passed from master to apprentice, and why the theory behind this spiritual practice upholds that only a skilled reiki practitioner can absorb energy from the universe and then channel it into a patient in order to improve their health and well-being.   In this way it is much like touch therapy, with the reiki master acting as the conduit – removing bad energy and replacing it with good energy.   This channeling of good energy will then encourage the patient to heal.

The actual channeling  procedure involved in reiki works something like this: the reiki master holds their hands over the recipient’s body – sometimes actually making contact with the         body – and uses their spiritual expertise to administer the healing treatment.   Some schools of reiki prescribe specific spots on the bod y for hand placement; while others believe that the hands of the reiki master should be used to detect the right place to administer treatment.   This second school believes the practitioner should intuitively recognize places of imbalance in our bodies.

Reiki can be administered in one of two ways – either in person or via distance healing.

In-person – During an in-person reiki treatment, the client will be asked to lie down on a massage table or mat.   They remain fully clothed throughout the treatment and the practitioner never makes contact the patient’s skin.   The environment is totally relaxed, with candle light, soothing music and aroma-therapy are used to put the client in a totally relaxed state.   The reiki practitioner will transfer energy from their own hands to the client, by gently touching different areas on the client’s body.

Distance healing – the client is asked to set up a relaxing environment in their home or place of their choice.   The reiki practitioner will then transfer the energy from themselves to their patient from a distance.

While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, and there is nothing you must believe in order to learn and use Reiki. In fact, Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not. Because Reiki comes from God, many people find that using Reiki puts them more in touch with the experience of their religion rather than having only an intellectual concept of it.

While Reiki is not a religion, it is still important to live and act in a way that promotes harmony with others.

Kathy Kiefer

THE KEY TO THE HEALING POWER OF TOUCH

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THE KEY TO THE HEALING POWER OF TOUCH

The key for healing through the power of touch is in the art of showing compassion in your touch!     It’s the human touch in the world that counts.   Which means far more to the sinking heart than shelter or bread or wine.    For shelter is gone when the night is over, and bread lasts only a day.  But the touch of the hand and the sound of the voice live on in the soul always.

The healing power of touch cannot be refuted. Human touch rules our very lives. Without human touch we die – maybe not our bodies, but our minds and our souls. The sense of touch and feeling are at the very core of our being, of the body-mind-soul connection. Experiencing the world through your senses is the way you process information that is useful to you. Imagine a world without sight, hearing, smell, taste or touch. Even if you lost only one of your five senses, it would be a much less enjoyable world. The sense of touch and feeling is a sense that is paramount to your survival. A baby is enveloped in the warmth of the womb, and the amniotic fluid, gently cushioned against the hostile world as it develops. The embrace and warmth of the mother, after birth, is vital for the maternal-infant bond, and is essential for the baby’s survival. The word ‘feeling’ itself is a metaphor for the sense of touch and the emotion that it elicits. Touch equals emotion, or a ‘feeling.’ You feel with your physical body and you ‘feel’ with your emotions. This is the power of touch. To touch and feel is the power of the body-mind-soul connection at work

I believe that this use of language for ‘touch’ and ‘feel’ is no coincidence. When you ‘feel’ emotions, you also ‘feel’ it in your physical body, even though you have not actually ‘felt’ with your hands or the physical body. This is another reason why it is so important to understand the connection between the body-mind-soul. They are one.  The physical manifestations of your emotions that help you discover who you really are. You can speak to one another through the healing power of touch. The physical language of the soul is through the power of touch and the emotions that it elicits. When nothing is left to say, or you don’t know what to say, you can convey your understanding and compassion, solely through a truly heartfelt, physical touch. This is the healing power of touch.  We can instantly tell the difference between a business-like touch and a compassionate, healing touch. You can communicate that you care or don’t care, in the way you touch. How is this possible? How is this message conveyed, if touch were only a physical experience? Yet you even speak this metaphor when you say, “I was ‘touched’ by his words.” You are ‘touched’ by the act of kindness that both your mind and your physical body ‘feels.’ Others ‘touch’ your life. You say “Let’s keep in ‘touch.'” The healing power of touch, the physical experience combined with the emotional experience to heal the soul is yet another example of the connection of the body-mind-soul or the body-mind connection that leads to healing of the soul.  Touch is not an isolated physical event. The caring or lack of caring is transmitted through your hands, through the power of your touch. If what is said, and the physical sensation of touch you actually feel are incongruent, the physical touch will prevail. Physical touch has power over words – every single time. The power of touch is that significant. If caring is transmitted through my hands by means of physical touch, but I am emotionally detached, the sensation of caring will not be transmitted. If I ‘care’ for a patient by bathing and dressing him/her but do not do it in a compassionate manner, while remaining detached, the physical touch will be read as cold, uncaring, hurried or at the very best, neutral. This is why the old adage, when you were being paddled as kids, when the parent said, ‘This is hurting me more than it is hurting you,’ or ‘spare the rod, spoil the child,’ never worked. You never felt loved during this process. One never says, “My parents were so good to me, and I felt deep acceptance for who I was, and I felt love and understanding while I was being paddled!” Or for that matter, immediately after you were paddled. Or when you became an adult and thought about the paddling. In fact, what you probably felt when you were paddled was anger, defiance, feelings of being out of control and even rage, or perhaps submission to your repressed rage. Then these powerful emotions have to be suppressed, for later dealings. In fact these feelings were most likely felt over and over again in you, if you were paddled and are honest with yourself. Correction of the misdeeds of children should never be coupled with physical pain of any nature, in my opinion. The power of touch that is applied in a manner intended to hurt, hurts us physically and emotionally and may leave deep scars. A child, who is coddled, and touched with the full love and caring that the power of touch can convey, that honors the child as an individual, is a healthy child. A child is always able to discern the physical touch that was meant to care and that which is detached, abusive or meant to harm. When you want to care for a person that is grieving, hurting or suffering in any way, and you cannot find words to say, a caring, compassionate touch is all that is needed to convey your love. This is such an effective way to communicate. The power of touch done in a loving, compassionate manner will convey all. No words will be needed. The healing power of touch encompasses all and heals all. We often touch our pets, our dogs and cats with more caring and compassion than we do our fellow human beings! A child that is touched inappropriately in an adult manner will be scarred for life. The kind of ‘caring’ that this abuse portrays to the child will forever distort his/her concept of love. The only healing that can occur after abuse is the surrender to the emotions that are currently manifested in your body. What is supposed to be the most powerful expression of love, human compassion and understanding is the single most abused sense you own – physical touch. You may have also experienced horror through touch – physical beating, detachment and abuse. You all deserve more. When the power of touch is abused, the entire being, the body-mind-soul is affected. The physical body retains these scars and this deeply held pain. The power of touch needed to heal your soul and heal your scars when you have suffered abuse is immense. You will need to at first recognize that Love and physical touch was not meant to be conveyed in an abusive manner but that Love could be experienced through the healing power of touch. Seeking professional help from practitioners that convey this healing power of touch instead of the abusive power of touch will help you receive love and help you to heal. Seeking Love through grace will help you too. Self-love and self-caring of your physical body through seeking its messages can also help you if you have a deep desire for self-healing. You will need to re-connect with your body and love your body.   If you ignore your body, ignore its messages, your dis-ease will only grow deeper. The only way to portray caring through the physical act of touch is to be totally present to the individual you are touching. Remember that through the power of touch, physical touch also ‘touches’ the body-mind-soul. Your mind must be empty of your own self-absorption. You cannot provide caring and warmth through your hands if you are thinking about what you will be cooking for dinner or who won last night’s game.    You must be thinking about the other person, and how it would feel to receive your touch.  Being present to the other person is so important in all your interactions with others. You all too often do not hear what others are saying, but are already formulating what you will say next. We all think 2-5 steps ahead of the present moment, almost unconsciously. We are all so self-absorbed and not in the present moment! Forget about words. Touch with your heart and soul. Honor the other being.

Never underestimate the healing power of touch. The power of touch to touch the soul for health and healing is great. Bodywork practitioners who perform their art in this fashion are the greatest healers of all. Seek out such practitioners who are more meditative in their presentation to healing. The traditional art of Thai Yoga Massage requires the practitioner to enter the session with a prayer-like, meditative and healing attitude!    If only all our healthcare practitioners approached us in this manner with the power of healing touch on their hearts and minds. The world would be full of healthier and more whole individuals. For now, seek your own physical, bodily truth.

Kathy Kiefer

RELIGION vs. SPIRITUALITY

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RELIGION vs. SPIRITUALITY

The main difference between Spirituality and Religion is the freedom to choose your own path towards enlightenment and ultimately, recognition of our Divine selves.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with many religions and belief systems, except that they are exclusionary and limiting. The main goals and ideals of most world religions are very much the same, but in most we are taught that as followers of a particular belief system, we are right, we will be saved and the others, well, poor unenlightened ones, they will be left behind. If we live by the book and do what we are told, we will one day (in our afterlife of course) attain spiritual unity or understanding with the Divine. Until then, we can only hope to escape punishment or notice or at best, be graced with a heavenly pat on the head for good behavior, from a judgmental god or deity.

Whether one chooses a spiritual path or the path comes to one through the heritage of one’s culture, religion is metaphor no matter what mask it wears. Religion is a metaphor for the finite mind to comprehend the infinite qualities of deity. This deity, at its source, is the same regardless of the mask.   Most of us are in despite need of healing and hope in all areas of our being: mind, body, emotions and spirit. For many of those brought up in traditional religions, vast and seemingly impenetrable walls around our true selves need to be knocked down, sometimes stone by stone, before we can gut-wrenchingly see that the walls are only an illusion keeping us separate from each other and from Spirit.

Most religions, while they contain many truths, are fear-based and deny the miracle of the Divinity in our souls. By doing so, they limit the amount of love we can give to ourselves, and therefore naturally, the love that we can give each other. Instead, we judge, we fear, we hold back – and we don’t even recognize that we are doing so, and thereby we deny the utmost beauty of life itself. However, we must come to realize with our logical mind that religions were originally created to help mankind deal with the great fear of death and dying and mortality versus immortality. Once we understand this premise it is easier to move beyond irrational response to spirituality through fear and to move on to a higher expression of love and divine connection.

There is no one who can tell you how to find your personal truth or your blazing, undeniable truthful connection with the Great Spirit. (God/dess, the Creator, the Infinite, the One, (or the Many) or whatever represents the Divine to you. We are abundantly blessed in the Western world to live without fear of persecution for exploring and expressing our spiritual beliefs, and we should make the most of this freedom. In choosing the paths which best express our personal truths and innermost beliefs, we honor ourselves and each other, and most of all, we celebrate Spirit.

It’s popular, especially in America, to distinguish between spirituality and religion. It’s true that there are valid distinctions between the two, but there are also a number of problematic distinctions which people try to make. In particular, supporters of spirituality tend to try to argue that everything bad lies with religion while everything good can be found in spirituality. This is a self-serving distinction which only masks the nature of religion and spirituality.

Ideally, spirituality emanates from religion, religion creates a safe, encouraging environment in which spirituality emerges and grows.  Religion is form: tradition, doctrine, rites and rituals. Spirituality is content: communion with the divine, seeing the holy in all creatures and objects. In reality, this is not always the case.  Religion gone bad results in the triumph of form over content resulting in rituals without meaning and the exaltation of dogma. Spirituality at its worst is mindless drivel, the egotism of the individual believer, even madness.

In the West, Augustine, Hildegard, Meister Eckhart and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are examples of individuals whose lives were balanced by the experience of spirituality discovered in the practice of religion. But not every person can find spirit in form. Some, like Thoreau and Emerson, eschewed established religion to pursue a universal understanding of truth. Others like Mary Baker Eddy charted other pathways to explore consciousness, in effect creating (though that may not have been their intent) innovative forms. One may be a spiritual person, living in communion with God, nature and one’s fellow beings, without the structures and formulae of organized religion. On the other hand, organized religion is not the ogre some freethinkers would have us believe. Many of the most sublime outpourings of love and faith have occurred within the sanctuary and teachings of church, mosque, zendo and ashram.  Where spirit is concerned, the forms cherished by the many may, but do not necessarily have to, lead to a life of spiritual fulfillment.  —

One principal problem with attempts to separate religion from spirituality is that the former is saddled with everything negative while the latter is exalted with everything positive. This is a totally self-serving way of approaching the issue and something you only hear from those who describe themselves as “spiritual.” You never hear a self-professed religious person offer such definitions and it’s disrespectful to religious people to suggest that they would remain in a system with no positive characteristics whatsoever.   Another problem with attempts to separate religion from spirituality is the curious fact that we don’t see it outside America. Why are people in Europe either religious or irreligious, but Americans have this third category called “spiritual”? Are Americans special? Or is it rather that “distinction” is really just a product of American culture?

In fact, that is exactly the case. The term itself came to be used frequently only after the 1960s when there were widespread revolts against every form of organized authority, including “organized religion.” Every establishment and every system of authority was thought to be corrupt and evil, including those which were religious — but of course, Americans weren’t prepared to abandon religion entirely. So, they created a new category which was still religious, but which no longer included the same traditional authority figures.

They called it Spirituality. Indeed, the creation of the category “spiritual” can be seen as just one more step in the long American process of privatizing and personalizing religion, something which has occurred constantly throughout American history.

It’s no wonder that courts in the America have refused to acknowledge any substantive difference between “religion” and “spirituality,” concluding that “spiritual” programs are so much like religions that it would violate the separation of church and state to force people to attend them (as with Alcoholics Anonymous, for example). The religious beliefs of these “spiritual” groups do not necessarily lead people to the same conclusions as organized religions, but that doesn’t make them less religious.

  This is not to say that there is nothing at all valid in the concept of spirituality — just that the distinction between spirituality and religion in general is not valid. Spirituality is a form of religion, but a private and personal form of religion. Thus, the valid distinction is between spirituality and organized religion.

We can see this in how there is little (if anything) that people describe as characterizing spirituality but which has not also characterized aspects of traditional religion. Personal quests for God? Organized religions have made a great deal of room for such quests. Personal understandings of God? Organized religions have relied heavily upon the insights of mystics, although they have also sought to circumscribe their influence so as not to “rock the boat” too much and too quickly.

Moreover, some of the negative features commonly attributed to religion can also be found in so-called “spiritual” systems. Is religion dependent upon a book of rules? Alcoholics Anonymous describes itself as spiritual rather than religious and has such a book. Is religion dependent upon a set of written revelations from God rather than a personal communication?

It is important to note the fact that many of the negative things which people attribute to religions are, at best, features of some forms of some religions (usually Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), but not of other religions (like Taoism or Buddhism). This is perhaps why so much of spirituality remains attached to traditional religions, like attempts to soften their harder edges. Thus, we have Jewish spirituality, Christian spirituality, and Muslim spirituality.

Religion is spiritual and spirituality is religious. One tends to be more personal and private while the other tends to incorporate public rituals and organized doctrines. The lines between one and the other are not clear and distinct — they are all points on the spectrum of belief systems known as religion. Neither religion nor spirituality is better or worse than the other; people who try to pretend that such a difference does exist are only fooling themselves.

Nearly everyone would say that they believe in a god or a power higher than themselves. Some people profess to belong to a specific religion, while others say that they are only spiritual. Obviously the concepts of religion and spirituality are fundamentally intertwined. There are differences between the two, though those differences vary depending on to whom you speak.

Religion ‘“is a human invention that centers on specific rituals and a set of stories that outline a basic moral code and belief system. Religions often, have a hierarchy of initiates, with those further into the inner circle leading the rituals for the general populace
Spirituality relates to the spirit or essential essence of humanity. People who say they are spiritual are working to grow and better this inner force. Religious people are generally spiritual people as well, but spiritual people do not necessarily have to be religious. They may work to attain a heightened spirituality through alternative methods.

To the outsider, the defining characteristic of religion would be its rituals. Every religion asks certain things of its followers. It may be praying at certain times or the day or week. It may be eating or abstaining from certain foods.   It could be studying from a specific text or even learning certain songs or chants.  Spirituality though is a little harder to recognize.  Today, with the rise of New Age philosophy, many people try to attain a lighter spiritual state, through meditation, chanting, prayer or contemplation.  These practices are also espoused by certain religions.

Religion is a social force for unity within a group. A religion is often referred to as a community of believers. It strives for uniformity of thought and action in its members. At the same time, it provides these members with a community for spiritual and physical support. Most religions have charitable arms that distribute food and clothing to needy parishioners.  Spirituality is an individual phenomenon.  The Deists of the Enlightenment may be the first large group to describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. As secular society became more supportive through national unity and social programs, the need to be belong to a religious group lessened. Many people prefer a more individual approach.

Religion and spirituality both refer to man’s desire to find inner peace or god, regardless of the terminology they use; Religion employs literature and rituals in its worship whereas spirituality uses personalized prayer and meditation.  It would seem to an outsider that religion may seem all about ritual, while spirituality avoids anything that can become meaningless through repetition.  And rituals of religion are meant to foster a community of believers that provide both spiritual and physical succor to it members while people who consider themselves to be only spiritual are generally left to their own devices.

Kathy Kiefer

LOVE – RELATIONSHIPS

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LOVE – RELATIONSHIPS

What is love?

Is it something we are taught?

Is it a feeling, an emotion or what?

What about physical attraction?

Do looks matter in a relationship?

125699-1920x1200-1024x640The English word “love” can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to interpersonal attraction. (“I love my partner”). It can refer to an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection”the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. And it may describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one’s self or animals. I don’t think that looks should matter in a relationship; it’s what’s inside the person that matters. I know someone to whom looks matter more than anything and he is what is termed a “Player,” is shallow and really does not know what love truly is, he tells all the ladies the same thing without meaning it to any of them how much he loves that person and that they are the only one in his life. He is missing out on so much. To him, is you are not slender don’t bother him. Probably why I hardly talk with him.
What is love? It is one of the most difficult questions for the mankind. Centuries have passed by, relationships have bloomed and so has love. But no one can give the proper definition of love. To some Love is friendship set on fire for others Maybe love is like luck. You have to go all the way to find it. No matter how you define it or feel it, love is the eternal truth in the history of mankind. Some have tried to use the following to define love: profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend, a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart, affectionate concern for the well-being of others.
Love is patient, love is kind. It has no envy, nor it boasts itself and it is never proud. It rejoices over the evil and is the truth seeker. 482452_620250331326549_1714635493_nLove protects; preserves and hopes for the positive aspect of life. Always stand steadfast in love, not fall into it. It is like the dream of your matter of affection coming true. Love can occur between two or more individuals. It bonds them and connects them in a unified link of trust, intimacy and interdependence. It enhances the relationship and comforts the soul. Love should be experienced and not just felt. The depth of love cannot be measured. Look at the relationship between a mother and a child. The mother loves the child unconditionally and it cannot be measured at all. A different dimension can be attained between any relationships with the magic of love. Love can be created. You just need to focus on the goodness of the other person. If this can be done easily, then you can also love easily. And remember we all have some positive aspect in us, no matter how bad our deeds maybe. God said to us “LOVE ALL.” Depending on the context, love can be of different varieties. Romantic love is a deep, intense and unending. It shared on a very intimate and interpersonal and sexual relationship. The term Platonic love, familial love and religious love are also matter of great affection. It is more of desire, preference and feelings. The meaning of love will change with each different relationship and depends more on its concept of depth, versatility, and complexity. But at times the very existence of love is questioned. Some say it is false and meaningless. Some say that it doesn’t exist, because there have been many instances of hatred and brutality in relationships. But love is not responsible for that. It is us; the people who have forgotten the meaning of love have undertaken such gruesome apathy.
301929_440667259361168_800767817_nIn terms of interpersonal attraction, four forms of love have traditionally been distinguished, based on ancient Greek precedent: the love of family, the love of friendship, the love of sexual and/or romantic desire and divine love. This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states. The word “love” can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts and cultures. Interpersonal love refers to love between human beings. It is a more potent sentiment than a simple liking for another. Unrequited love refers to those feelings of love that are not reciprocated. Interpersonal love is most closely associated with interpersonal relationships. And this love might exist between family members, friends, and couples. Empty love only includes commitment. Romantic love includes both intimacy and passion. Companionate love includes intimacy and commitment. Fatuous love includes passion and commitment. Lastly, consummate love includes all three. There are many different theories which attempt to explain what love is, 68570_613296528688596_693395762_nand what function it serves. It would be very difficult to explain love to a hypothetical person who had not himself or herself experienced love or being loved. In fact, to such a person love would appear to be quite strange if not outright irrational behavior.  Also there are theories that consider love to be an unexplainable mystery, very much like a mystical experience. Love also includes compatibility. I think that it is more of journey to the unknown when the concept of compatibility comes into picture. Maybe the person whom we see in front of us, may be least compatible than the person who is miles away. We might talk to each other and portray that we love each other, but practically we do not end up into any relationship. Also in compatibility, the key is to think about the long term successful relationship, not a short journey. We need to understand each other and must always remember that nobody is perfect.
Be together, share your joy and sorrow, understand each other, provide space to each other, but always be there for each other. And surely love will blossom to strengthen your relationship.

Kathy Kiefer

SPIRITUALITY IN THE WORLD

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SPIRITUALITY IN THE WORLD

Spirituality as seen by some lack a defining definition…but the basic definition of spirituality is that it is the fact or quality of being spiritual.  Spirituality has come to mean the internal experience of the individual.   But the term of spirituality use has changed though out the ages, in more recent times spirituality has been separated from religion and is a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and esoteric traditions as well as eastern religions that are aimed at a person’s well-being and development.

Spirituality may be sought not only through religion, but through movements like the feminist theology and green politics.  There have been suggestions that spirituality also leads to finding purpose and meaning in one’s life.   Spirituality also aids in developing inner peace as well as forming a foundation for happiness.

Spirituality means something different to everyone. For some, it’s about participating in organized religion: going to church, synagogue, a mosque, etc. For others, it’s more personal: Some people get in touch with their spiritual side through private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, or even long walks.

Spirituality is extremely hard to define with words alone, as it encompasses so much more than what we can express with our language. Although people tend to label themselves as being ‘spiritual’ or ‘not spiritual’, almost everyone on this planet is on the proverbial spiritual path, whether they are aware of it or not.

There are many different branches of spirituality, including mystical spirituality, intellectual spirituality and secular spirituality. Here are some of the most common spiritual themes:

  • Understanding that we are all connected and part of a larger reality
  • Realizing that we are infinite souls
  • Transcending the physical world and achieving enlightenment
  • Discovering the true nature of consciousness
  • Practicing kindness and compassion to all beings

Traditional Spirituality

Judaism

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Rabbinic Judaism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud, which is characterized by the belief that the Written Torah (the law) can’t be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah and by voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law.   Judaism has a variety of religious observances:  ethical rules, prayers, religious clothing, holidays, Shabbat, pilgrimages, Torah reading, dietary laws.

Kabbalah is an esoteric method, discipline and school and thought of Judaism.  According to the tradition and aims of their followers from its religious origins as an integral part of Judaism, to the later adaptations.   Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings that is meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious and the mortal and finite universe.

While it is heavily used by some denominations, it is not its own denomination itself.    Inside Judaism, it forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Outside Judaism, its scriptures are read outside the traditional canons of organized religion. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realization.

Hasidic Judaism means piety and is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularization and internalization of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith.   Hasidic Judaism was founded in 18th Century Europe.  Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside rabbinic supremacy of study and replaced historical mystical and ethical asceticism and admonishment with optimism, encouragement and fervor. This emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought.

 

siege-jerusalemChristianity

Union with Christ is the purpose of Christian mysticism.

Catholic spirituality is the spiritual practice of living out a personal act of faith following the acceptance of faith.  Although all Catholics are expected to pray together at Mass, there are many different forms of spirituality and private prayer which have developed over the centuries. Each of the major religious orders of the Catholic Church and other lay groups have their own unique spirituality – its own way of approaching God in prayer and in living out the Gospel.

Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity.  It is often connected to mystical theology, especially in both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.   The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied and range from ecstatic visions of the soul’s mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture.

 

ISLAM

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The five pillars of Islam.

The Pillars of Islam are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran (or Koran) represents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith.

They are (1) the creed (2) daily prayers, (3) almsgiving, (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) pilgrimage to Mecca (haji) at least once in a lifetime.

The Shia and Sunni sects agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.

 

sufismSufism

The best known form of Islamic mystic spirituality is the Sufi tradition in which a spiritual master transmits spiritual discipline to students.   Sufism is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.  Sufis believe they are practicing perfection of worship as revealed to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel.   Sufis consider themselves as the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam. They are strong adherents to the principal of tolerance, peace and against any form of violence.

Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.

 

JIHAD

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSJihad is a religious duty of Muslims.  In the Arabic language, the word jihad translates as a noun meaning “struggle”.

There are two commonly accepted meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle.  The greater jihad” is the inner struggle by a believer to fulfill his religious duties.  This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

 

 

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Hindu

The Hindu traditions know a wide range of spiritual practices called Sadhana, which is aimed at reaching enlightenment.    Sadhana literally means “a means of accomplishing something.  It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Muslim traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.

Sādhanā is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. Abhyāsa is repeated practice performed with observation and reflection. Kriyā, or action, also implies perfect execution with study and investigation. Therefore, sādhanā, abhyāsa, and kriyā all mean one and the same thing. A sādhaka, or practitioner, is one who skillfully applies…mind and intelligence in practice towards a spiritual goal.

 

 

Buddhism

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Buddhist practices are known as Bhavan, which literally means “development” or “cultivating   in the sense of “calling into existence.”     It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis.  The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as the development or cultivation of the heart/mind or the development/cultivation of loving kindness. When used on its own bhavana signifies ‘spiritual cultivation’ generally.

 

 

Slave-Rebellion-HaitiAfrican spirituality

In some African contexts, spirituality is considered a belief system that guides that welfare of society and the people therein, and eradicates sources of unhappiness that is thought to be caused by evil.

 

 

 

 

AGNOSTIC

spiritual

Then there are people that hold that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience, as well as a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.

 

 

 

ATHEIST

One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

Kathy Kiefer

SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION IN MY OPINION

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SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION

Spirituality can be broadly defined as a search for the sacred and set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration.   The term spirituality has changed numerous times the ages, and is often separated from religion and by some is seen as a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and esoteric traditions, and by some aimed at personal well being and development.

Spirituality can come not only through the practice of traditional organized religions but other movements as well and by some accounts associated with mental health, inner peace, ones mental health, and so forth. It could be suggested that spirituality could lead to finding purpose and meaning in a person’s life.   According to some, it denotes the realm of inner life, purity of motives, affections, inner dispositions, the psychology of ones spiritual life, or analysis of feelings.

In some of the major religions of the world it is noted:

Judaism is known by a variety of observances including ethical rules, prayers, Torah reading, dietary laws, pilgrimages and more.

UnknownChristianity, spirituality is the practice of living out personal acts of faith and acceptance of faith.  Christians are also expected to pray together at mass, but there are many forms of spirituality as well as private prayer.

Islam has five pillars or five basic acts which are essential for all believers and serves as a framework for their belief.  They are the creed, daily prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage.

To me this seems to be essential in every religion and tradition that I have studied and plays an essential part in everyone’s life regardless of what religion (or not) one believes in and follows.   There are some that choose to define themselves as spiritual but not religious, yet those that do seem to believe in an existence of different spiritual paths, and emphasize finding one’s own path to spirituality.

Also an interesting observation to note is that personal well-being (physically and emotionally) appears to be an important facet that should work closely to develop inner peace and set a foundation of happiness and cause a variety of positive health outcomes.

Spirituality emphasizes ideals of one’s moral character/qualities as love, compassion patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony and concern for others.    This fact helps to make us each a unique individual that we are from birth and continue fine tuning all of our lives.

Religion’s definition is set as:  Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator, and governor of the universe.   A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.     A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

We all pray, and yet people ask What is Prayer?  We all pray in churches, temples, synagogues.  But we can also pray to God, Allah, CUORE-PUROJehovah  or whomever is our spiritual leader in other places as well, these can include home, in the car, outside walking around, at the office (albeit quietly) anywhere.

Prayer is our direct line with heaven. Prayer is a communication process that allows us to talk to God! He wants us to communicate with Him, like a person-to-person phone call. Cell phones and other devices have become a necessity to some people in today’s society. We have bluetooth devices, blackberries, and talking computers! These are means of communication that allow two or more people to interact, discuss, and respond to one another.

Too many people, prayer seems complicated, but it is simply talking to God.   There is something I have always heard, “Give your problems to God, he’ll be up all night anyway.”     Know with confidence that God can hear you when you pray, so open that line of communication! Pray, knowing that no matter how far you roam, your connection with Him can never be lost!

Yet different, the Christian religions (Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, and so forth) have 600810_467423513323966_852427136_nsimilarities that are inherent in all of them, similar prayers, traditions and teachings.   But each is unique in their own way, the wording and hymns may be a little different in a church other than what one is use to, the architecture of the church set a little different, but you grow and learn from visiting other denominations.   It’s all part of the experience of life and it helps you grow as an individual.   Even if you relocate to a different area, the best thing one can do is check out several different churches (which ever faith you follow) to find out which one you’d be most comfortable attending and becoming a part of.  By this I mean the one that is the most close to where you live may or may not be the best fit for you.    I know this from experience.   When I moved nearly 30 years ago from New York State, I was fortunate that the church I attend was only ½ block from where I lived.   I got involved from day one with different things they had that I enjoy doing such as teaching Sunday school.  After a few years I moved 10 miles from there and started to attend a church near to where I moved, but ultimately returned to the other church that I had been going to prior to moving 10 miles away.  I was and am happier there.   This is the point; you have to be happy with where you go to church

Below is a list of some things that all Christians believe:

1.God created all that is seen and unseen
Christians believe that God is the creator of all people, the world, the universe, and everything seen and unseen.

2.Jesus is the Son of God and is one with God
Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he is one with God, and that he was sent here for our salvation.

3.Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary
Christians believe that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit of God and born through the Virgin Mary.

4.Jesus suffered and was crucified
Jesus suffered and died for our sins. Jesus was falsely accused of being an anti-government rebel and, as explained in Matthew 27:23-56, he was brought to Pontius Pilate to be executed through crucifixion. He was mocked, beaten, taunted and crucified by the Romans.

5.Jesus died and was buried
Jesus died after being crucified. He was buried in a tomb that was owned by a man named Joseph of Arimathea, who was a follower of Jesus.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew we are told that: “As evening approached Joseph went to Pilate, asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.”

6.Jesus rose again (the Resurrection)
Jesus was resurrected, which means that he died and was brought back to life again.

The resurrection of Jesus is described in various places throughout the Bible’s New Testament. As explained in the Bible, all people who die before Judgment Day will be resurrected. The people who believe in Jesus will be resurrected to eternal life in Heaven. Those who do not believe in Jesus will be condemned, eternally, by their own sins.
7.Jesus ascended into Heaven
Jesus ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.

This happened after Jesus was resurrected. We too can go to Heaven, through faith in Jesus Christ.
8.Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead
Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

Jesus is quoted as saying that he will return: “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”

9.Anyone can have salvation
All people may receive salvation in the name of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says:  “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all (rich, poor, no matter where you live, skin color, creed, etc.) and richly blesses all who call on him”.

10.People who repent of their sins will be forgiven
People are forgiven and saved if they confess their sins and confess their belief in the resurrection of Jesus

We learn in the Gospel of St. John:   “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

l43-vaticano-120529163005_bigWhen I was in Rome, Italy in the fall of 2012, I had opportunity to go to the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica.    It was such a moving experience for me to be in the seat of the Catholic Church, to be able to explore such a great church with its marvelous statutes, art work (such as Michelangelo’s The Pieta).   The altar behind me is directly above the Crypt of St. Peter on whom Jesus founded the church and the only person that can say Mass at this altar is the Pope.  Being there gave me a whole new outlook and perspective and deeper understand of what my faith is all about.

 

 

papa_francesco_balcone_papa_francesco_getty__3__1Today there was history made in the church with the election of a new Pope, historical in so many ways.   Pope Frances  (formerly his eminence Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio), a Jesuit priest hailing from Argentina, and the first non-European pontiff since Pope Gregory III in the eighth century, and the third successive non-Italian pontiff.   He comes from a working class family in Argentina (and ironically has family roots in Italy), who use to take the bus to work and elected to live modestly away from the Cardinal’s residence and even enjoys cooking his own meals.  He is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and German, and will possible pick up other languages as time goes on.

The Holy Father is the first Jesuit priest to become pope, who I am learning is a person of simple needs and tastes.   He honors St. Francis of Assisi in choosing the name Francis, who himself was a man of humility, simplicity and modest means and needs, and also cared about the poor as does the new Pontiff.

It will be interesting to see what church doctrine will be changed (or modified) and new doctrine over time I am sure will emerge.

The new Pope Francesco, in metro.
The new Pope Francesco, in metro.

Things may change on policy of priests who refuse to baptize children born out of wedlock, and taking the reins of problemsthat has been floating around the church for some time.   But he will put his own stamp on the church as well.  He has been known as a priest of the people.    It’s such an exciting time for the Catholic Church and all of us that are Roman Catholic (like myself).

But what brought about this change eight years after the election of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was unforeseen retirement of Pope Benedict.   No one could have known this was coming except for the  Pope (this was the first time a Pope retired in over 600 years), and it was done in part to his health and being directed by the holy spirit to step down and use his remaining years on reflection, writing and prayer.

It will be interesting when Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI meet in just a few days.     I don’t think there will be any conflict between the two men, yet there will be cooperation, obedience, shared love and concern for the entire church and its people.

We have special gifts and talents, and we need to use them for good and not evil.   Unfortunately there are many that use their talents for ill and allow improper influences rule their lives.    They miss out on so much.    Our gifts and talents aid and serve to make us the unique individuals that we are.   Some of the special gifts that come to us via the Holy Spirit are:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

What do you think faith can bring to humanity that is so uncertain about the future?  What is your thinking about the places and ministers of God can give men during their journey of faith, and what do you expect of religion to serve men?

I see faith as the magic that allows those with a pure heart who believe with faith they can achieve their dreams.   Religion also can be the discipline to be able to communicate with God.  I think that with the new Pope, the men of the church can give the Catholic religion as well as the faithful a true and clear signal of change from the elitist of the church and closed to the real needs of a people such a true witness of Jesus’ that is made from charity, mercy and true love not only coming from the written word, but in action and deed.  It is quite possible that the new Pope is a worthy and inspiring representative.

Kathy Kiefer.

 

Italian Version:

Spiritualità e religione

La spiritualità può essere generalmente definita come una ricerca del sacro fuori dal comune per questo degna di venerazione. Il termine  spiritualità ha cambiato significato numerose volte nei secoli, ed è spesso separata dalla religione e da alcuni è vista come una miscela di psicologia umanistica con le tradizioni mistiche ed esoteriche, e da un po’ di tempo a benessere personale e di sviluppo.


La spiritualità non può venire solo attraverso la pratica delle tradizionali religioni organizzate, ma anche altri movimenti interiori e da alcuni account associati con la salute psichica, la pace interiore, e così via. Si potrebbe suggerire che la spiritualità potrebbe portare a trovare scopo e significato nella vita di una persona. Secondo alcuni, essa designa il regno della vita interiore, la purezza delle motivazioni, affetti, disposizioni interne, la psicologia della vita spirituale, o l’analisi dei sentimenti.

In alcune delle maggiori religioni del mondo, si segnala:
L’ebraismo,  è conosciuto da una serie di osservanze comprese quelle deontologiche, le preghiere, la lettura della Torah, le leggi alimentari, il pellegrinaggi e molto altro ancora.

Cristianesimo, la spiritualità è la pratica di vivere atti personali di fede e di accettazione della fede. I cristiani sono inoltre tenuti a pregare insieme a messa, ma ci sono molte forme di spiritualità e preghiera privata, la meditazione per esempio.
L’Islam ha cinque pilastri o cinque atti di base che sono essenziali per tutti i credenti e funge da quadro di riferimento per la loro fede. Essi sono il credo, la preghiera quotidiana, l’elemosina, il digiuno e di pellegrinaggio.

A me questo sembra essere essenziale in ogni religione e tradizione che ho studiato e svolge un ruolo essenziale nella vita di ognuno indipendentemente da ciò che la religione (o meno) si crede e segue. Ci sono alcuni che scelgono di definire se stessi come spirituale, ma non religioso, ma quelle che sembrano credere in una esistenza di diversi percorsi spirituali, e sottolineano il percorso per trovare una propria via alla spiritualità.

Un’osservazione interessante da notare è che il benessere personale (fisico ed emotivo) sembra essere un aspetto importante che dovrebbe lavorare a stretto contatto per sviluppare la pace interiore e impostare una base di felicità e causare una serie di risultati positivi per la salute.

La spiritualità pone l’accento sugli ideali del proprio carattere morale / qualità come l’amore, la pazienza  la compassione, la tolleranza, il perdono, la contentezza, la responsabilità, l’armonia e la preoccupazione per gli altri. Questo fatto contribuisce a rendere noi ogni individuo unico che siamo dalla nascita e continua messa a punto tutte le nostre vite

 

La mia definizione della religione è impostata cosi: la fede e il rispetto per un potere soprannaturale o poteri considerati come creatore e governatore dell’universo. Un sistema personale o istituzionalizzato fondato  tale credenza e di culto. Un insieme di credenze, valori e pratiche basati sugli insegnamenti di un maestro spirituale.

Noi tutti preghiamo, eppure le persone chiedono che cos’è la preghiera? Noi tutti preghiamo in chiese, templi, sinagoghe. Ma possiamo anche pregare Dio, Allah, Geova o chi è il nostro leader spirituale in luoghi anche altri, questi possono includere a casa, in macchina, al di fuori in giro, in ufficio (anche se a bassa voce) da nessuna parte.

La preghiera è la nostra linea diretta con il cielo. La preghiera è un processo di comunicazione che ci permette di parlare con Dio! Egli vuole che noi comunichiamo con Lui, da persona a persona  in chiamata. I telefoni cellulari e altri dispositivi sono diventati una necessità per alcune persone nella società di oggi. Abbiamo dispositivi bluetooth, more, e computer parlanti! Si tratta di mezzi di comunicazione che consentono a due o più persone di interagire, discutere e rispondere l’uno all’altro.

Per troppe persone, la preghiera sembra complicata, ma si tratta semplicemente di parlare con Dio, quindi con la parte piu’ profonda di noi stessi che siamo suoi figli. C’è qualcosa che ho sempre sentito dire, “Date i vostri problemi a Dio, lui sarà sveglio tutta la notte comunque.” Sappi con fiducia che Dio può sentire quando preghi, in modo da aprire quella linea di comunicazione! Pregate, sapendo che non importa quanto lontano si effettua il roaming, la connessione con Lui non può mai essere perso!

Eppure sono diverse, le religioni cristiane (cattolica romana, episcopale, luterana, battista, presbiteriana, anglicana, e così via) hanno somiglianze che sono inerenti a tutti loro, preghiere simili, le tradizioni e gli insegnamenti. Ma ognuno è unico a modo loro, la formulazione e gli inni possono essere un po ‘diversi in una chiesa diversa da ciò che si utilizza per l’architettura della chiesa impostare un po’ diverso, ma a crescere e imparare da visitare altre confessioni. E ‘ tutto parte dell’esperienza di vita e ti aiuta a crescere come individuo. Anche se trasferirsi in una zona diversa, la cosa migliore che si può fare è controllare diverse chiese (che mai la fede si segue) per scoprire quale saresti più comodo partecipare e diventare parte di esse. Con questo voglio dire quello che è il più vicino a dove si vive può o non può essere la soluzione migliore per voi. Lo so per esperienza. Quando mi sono trasferito circa 30 anni fa da Stato di New York, ho avuto la fortuna che la chiesa che frequento e’ solo a mezzo isolato da dove ho vissuto. Sono stato coinvolta fin dal primo giorno con cose diverse che avevano che mi piace fare, come l’insegnamento  della Domenica.  Dopo qualche anno mi sono trasferito a 10 miglia da lì e ha iniziato a frequentare una chiesa vicino a dove mi sono trasferito, ma alla fine tornò ad altra chiesa che avevo intenzione di muoversi prima di 10 miglia di distanza. Ero e sono più felice lì. Questo è il punto, devi essere felice con cui si va in chiesa.

Di seguito è riportato un elenco di alcune cose che tutti i cristiani credono:
1. Dio ha creato tutte le cose visibili e invisibili
I cristiani credono che Dio è il creatore di tutte le persone, il mondo, l’universo, e tutto visibili e invisibili.

2. Jesus è il Figlio di Dio ed è uno con Dio


I cristiani credono che Gesù è il Figlio di Dio, che egli è uno con Dio, e che è stato mandato qui per la nostra salvezza.

3. Jesus è stato concepito dallo Spirito Santo e nato dalla Vergine Maria

I cristiani credono che Gesù è stato concepito dallo Spirito Santo di Dio, nato dalla Vergine Maria.
4. Gesù ha sofferto ed è stato crocifisso

Gesù ha sofferto ed è morto per i nostri peccati. Gesù è stato falsamente accusato di essere un anti-governo ribelle e, come spiegato in Matteo 27:23-56, è stato portato a Ponzio Pilato da eseguirsi mediante crocifissione. E ‘stato deriso, picchiato, schernito e crocifisso dai romani.

5. Gesù morì e fu sepolto

Gesù è morto dopo essere stato crocifisso. Fu sepolto in una tomba, che era di proprietà di un uomo di nome Giuseppe d’Arimatea, che era discepolo di Gesù.

Nel Vangelo di San Matteo ci viene detto che: “Verso sera Giuseppe andò da Pilato, chiese il corpo di Gesù ‘, e Pilato ordinò che gli fosse consegnato Giuseppe, preso il corpo, lo avvolse in un candido lenzuolo,. e lo mise nella sua tomba nuova, che si era fatta scavare nella roccia. rotolò una grossa pietra davanti all’entrata del sepolcro, se ne andò. ”

6. Gesù è risorto (la Resurrezione)

Gesù è risorto, il che significa che è morto ed è stato riportato in vita.

La risurrezione di Gesù è descritto in vari luoghi in tutta Nuovo Testamento della Bibbia. Come spiegato nella Bibbia, tutte le persone che muoiono prima il giorno del giudizio saranno risuscitati. Le persone che credono in Gesù saranno risuscitati per la vita eterna in cielo. Coloro che non credono in Gesù sarà condannato, eternamente, per i propri peccati.

7. Gesù ascese al cielo

Gesù salì al cielo, siede alla destra di Dio Padre.

Questo è accaduto dopo che Gesù è risorto. Anche noi possiamo andare in Paradiso, per mezzo della fede in Gesù Cristo.

8. Gesù ritornerà per giudicare i vivi ei morti

Gesù ritornerà per giudicare i vivi ei morti, e il suo regno non avrà fine.

Gesù è citato come dicendo che tornerà:. “In quel tempo il segno del Figlio dell’uomo apparirà nel cielo, e tutte le nazioni della terra faranno cordoglio e vedranno il Figlio dell’uomo venire sulle nuvole del cielo con gran potenza e gloria. ”

9. Chiunque può avere la salvezza

Tutte le persone possono ricevere la salvezza nel nome di Gesù Cristo.

La Bibbia dice: “Non vi è alcuna differenza tra Ebreo e Gentile – il Signore stesso è il Signore di tutti (ricchi, poveri, non importa dove vivi, il colore della pelle, religione, ecc) e riccamente benedice tutti coloro che lo invocano. ”
10. Le persone che si pentono dei loro peccati saranno perdonati

Le persone sono perdonati e salvati se confessano i loro peccati e confessare la loro fede nella risurrezione di Gesù.

Impariamo nel Vangelo di San Giovanni: “Dio ha tanto amato il mondo da dare il suo unigenito Figlio, affinché chiunque crede in lui non perisca, ma abbia vita eterna.”

Quando ero a Roma, Italia nell’autunno del 2012, ho avuto l’opportunità di andare in Vaticano e alla Basilica di San Pietro. E ‘stato un momento emozionante per me essere nella sede della Chiesa cattolica, per essere in grado di esplorare una grande chiesa con i suoi statuti, meravigliose opere d’arte (come Michelangelo La Pietà).

L’altare dietro di me si trova direttamente sopra la cripta di San Pietro su cui Gesù ha fondato la chiesa e l’unica persona che può dire la Messa a questo altare è il papa. Essere lì mi ha dato una nuova prospettiva e di prospettiva e più profonda comprensione di ciò che la mia fede è tutto.

Oggi si è fatto storia nella chiesa con l’elezione di un nuovo Papa, storico in tanti modi. Papa Frances (ex Sua Eminenza il Cardinale Jorge Mario Bergoglio), un sacerdote gesuita provenienti da Argentina, e il primo non europeo pontefice da quando Papa Gregorio III nel secolo VIII, e la terza volta consecutiva non italiano pontefice. Proviene da una famiglia della classe operaia in Argentina (e ironia della sorte ha radici familiari in Italia), che usano per prendere l’autobus per lavorare e scelto di vivere modestamente lontano dalla residenza del cardinale e anche gode di cucinare i suoi pasti. Parla correntemente spagnolo, italiano e tedesco, e sarà possibile raccogliere altre lingue, come il passare del tempo.

Il Santo Padre è il primo sacerdote gesuita a diventare papa, che sto imparando è una persona di bisogni semplici e gusti. Egli onora San Francesco d’Assisi nella scelta del nome di Francesco, che  era un uomo di mezzi di umiltà, semplicità e modesto e le esigenze, e anche a cuore i poveri così come il nuovo Pontefice.

 

Sarà interessante vedere cosa la dottrina della Chiesa viene modificato (o modificato) e la nuova dottrina nel corso del tempo sono sicuro che emergerà. Le cose potrebbero cambiare in materia di politica dei sacerdoti che si rifiutano di battezzare i bambini nati fuori dal matrimonio, e prendendo le redini di problemi che è stato galleggianti intorno alla chiesa per qualche tempo. Ma metterà la sua impronta sulla chiesa. E ‘stato conosciuto come un sacerdote del popolo. E ‘un momento così emozionante per la Chiesa cattolica e tutti noi che sono cattolica romana (come me).

Ma ciò che ha portato questo cambiamento otto anni dopo l’elezione di Papa Benedetto XVI è stato emerito ritiro imprevisto di Papa Benedetto. Nessuno poteva sapere che sarebbe successo se non per il Papa (questa era la prima volta che un Papa in pensione in più di 600 anni), ed è stato fatto in parte per la sua salute e di essere diretto dallo Spirito Santo di dimettersi e di usare la sua rimanente anni di riflessione, la scrittura e la preghiera.

Sarà interessante quando Papa Francesco e Papa emerito Benedetto XVI si incontrano in pochi giorni. Io non credo che ci sarà un conflitto tra i due uomini, ma ci sarà la cooperazione, obbedienza, amore condiviso e la preoccupazione per tutta la Chiesa e la sua gente.

Abbiamo doni speciali e talenti, e abbiamo bisogno di usarli per il bene e non il male. Purtroppo ci sono molti che usano i loro talenti per malati e consentire influenze improprie governare le loro vite. Essi perdere così tanto. I nostri doni e talenti e aiuti servono a farci gli individui unici che siamo. Alcuni dei doni speciali che vengono a noi tramite lo Spirito Santo sono: sapienza, intelletto, consiglio, fortezza, scienza, pietà e timore del Signore.

Ecco le domande a cui daranno risposte il tempo e gli uomini:

Cosa pensa  la fede possa portare all’umanità che è così incerta per il futuro? Qual è il vostro pensiero circa i luoghi e ministri di Dio può dare assistenza agli uomini durante il loro cammino di fede, e che cosa vi aspettate dalla religione per servire gli uomini?

Vedo la fede come la magia che permette  a coloro che hanno un cuore puro, che credono con fede di poter realizzare i loro sogni. La religione può anche essere la disciplina  in grado di comunicare con Dio e di realizzare con lui i miracoli. Penso che con il nuovo papa, gli uomini di chiesa potranno dare alla religione cattolica e ai fedeli un segnale vero e chiaro di cambiamento dall’ elitarietà della chiesa e chiusura alle reali esigenze di un popolo come un vero testimone di Gesù ‘che è fatto dalla carità, la misericordia e l’amore vero non solo provenienti dalla parola scritta, ma anche nei fatti e con i fatti. E ‘del tutto possibile che il nuovo Papa possa essere un degno rappresentante e stimolare  con il suo esempio e possa ispirare i fedeli a seguire il suo cammino.