Practices of Peace To Awaken Mind and Heart
by Roger Walsh
Scholars call the essential, common core of religious wisdom the perennial wisdom…because these profound insights into life have endured across centuries and cultures and have been taught by the great sages of all times. Vast in scope, profound in depth, it offers numberless insights into the nature of life and love, health and happiness, suffering and salvation. At its heart lie four crucial claims…about reality and human nature.
Perennial Philosophy and Practices
1) There are two realms of reality- the everyday and the subtle. This subtle realm, which cannot be know through the senses, creates and embraces the physical realm and is its source. This subtle domain is not limited by space, time, and physical laws and hence it is unbounded and infinite, timeless and eternal.
2) Human beings partake of both realms. We are not only physical beings but spiritual beings…. We are not divorced from the sacred but eternally and intimately linked to it.
Neshamah of Judaism
Soul or divine spark of Christainity
Atman of Hinduism
Buddha nature of Buddhism
3) Human beings can recognize their own divine spark and the sacred ground that is its source… Although anyone can be graced with spontaneous glimpses, clear sustained vision or our sacred depths usually requires significant practice to clarify awareness sufficiently. This is the purpose of spiritual practice.
“Not by reasoning is this apprehension attainable” -Upanishads
St John of the Cross wrote:
The arguments of the wise
Are unable to grasp it
And this exalted wisdom
Is of such excellence
That no faculty of science
Can hope to reach it
4) Realizing our spiritual nature is the summum bonum: the highest goal and greatest good of human existence….no other goal is so beneficial to oneself or others….it is an invitation to all of us to test and taste for ourselves.
This recognition is the goal of the great religions and it is known by names such as salvation and satori, enlightenment and liberation, fana and nirvana, awakening and Ruah Ha-qodesh. Whatever the name, the great religions all exist to help us discover our true SELF and our true relationship to the sacred. This discovery, they agree, is the supreme joy and greatest goal of human life.”
How to achieve this discovery of our true nature is the central question of life, and it is here that the great religions offer another great gift. Each of them contains a set of practices designed to help us reach this goal… a core of wisdom and practices of remarkable transformative power.
However many holy words you read
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
If you do not act upon them?
Little by little, wean yourself
This is the gist of what I have to say.
From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
Move to an infant drinking milk,
To a child on solid food,
To a searcher after wisdom,
To a hunter of more invisible game.
Spiritual Traditions emphasize three qualities of mind and heart
Ethics Concentration Wisdom
Authentic spiritual practice fosters development of psychological and spiritual growth