All posts filed under: Awakening

April 19, 1775

This is the tale of intrigue you perhaps never heard behind the battle that morning of April 19, 1775.  Rebellious English colonists had been preparing for this day for months.  On February 1st the Second (illegal) Massachusetts Provincial Congress, with John Hancock presiding, called for the rebellion’s growing military supplies to be gathered and stored in Concord.  By March 9th General Gage, Massachusetts’ Military Governor, had a complete list of quantities and types of weapons stored there, and where exactly each item was hidden.  Many weapons were stored on the farm of Colonial Militia Col. James Barrett. On March 20th Gage sent two British soldiers in disguise to Concord to meet with those citizens loyal to king and country to plan the route for a military excursion to destroy the weapons and military supplies.  They dined and spent the night with Daniel Bliss, a prominent lawyer and son of the former minister of the village church, First Parish in Concord.  Concord had been turned into an armed camp, with fourteen pieces of cannon, a large …

Kolkata New Year’s Day

I have always loved the Upanishads and was rereading them on my flight to India.  I arrived in Kolkata on New Year’s Eve 2015 to join our group of pilgrims.  That evening our Harvard professor briefed us on Rabindranath Tagore, one of India’s great secular humanists, who led the Bengal Renaissance in Calcutta with the Upanishads at its center. Rabindranath Tagore is someone many Unitarian Universalists know well.  In speaking of the importance of living life as a spiritual pilgrim, Tagore said: “The great morning which is for all appears in the East.  Let its light reveal us to each other who walk on the same path on pilgrimage.”  I had come to the East to more deeply discover my inner Light on pilgrimage. There are seven selections from Tagore’s writings in our Unitarian Universalist hymnal, one more than even Ralph Waldo Emerson, and my favorite is called THE STREAM OF LIFE: The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances rhythmic measures. It is …

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice This time last year I was on spiritual pilgrimage in the Seam Reap area of Cambodia walking among the ruins of extraordinary ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples.  One of the earliest surviving temple-mountains is Bakong at Rolous, built in the late 9th century as the state temple of Indravarman I and Indarvarman II.  This is a temple dedicated to Shiva consisting of a five-story step pyramid surrounded by three concentric enclosures and two moats presenting a stylized representation of Mount Meru.  It is oriented towards the cardinal directions so it is particularly appealing in the early morning and late afternoon light this time of year.  The four entrances to the central tower each has Nandi, Shiva’s bull, patiently awaiting his master, and the stairways are protected by Chinese style lion guardians.  Though the buildings are much eroded, and statuary broken or missing, it still is awe inspiring. For our next temple-mountain we decided to rise early (4 am), to climb the Phnom Bakheng Mountain in the dark, in order to watch the sunrise …

Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

What does it mean to be a mystic, to live between two worlds, embrace all of life as a spiritual pilgrim, to treat every moment as if it matters, every step as if it is upon Holy Ground?  Perhaps I should begin by telling you some of what I know about mystics.  I have traveled to distant lands, over the course of decades, traversing diverse cultures and ways of being human, in answering this question of what it means to be living in divine mystery as a transient spiritual pilgrim. There are so many spiritual pilgrims who have traveled this way before me.  I am not the first and shall not be the last.  You will meet many of my fellow mystics in the pages of this book.  As the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, “You are going, not indeed in search of the new world, like Columbus and his adventurers, nor yet another world that now is, and ever has been, though undreamt of by many, and by the greater part even …

Failing Retirement again

It is about twenty months since I retired from parish ministry and set off on a pilgrimage up the Ganges River in the footsteps of the Buddha to find awakening and enlightenment.  That experience led me to envision and write a spiritual memoir now being published as SPIRITUAL AUDACITY: Six Disciplines of Human Flourishing.   New York Times bestselling authors Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone describe its story as: “Jim’s spiritual journey takes him to the farthest reaches of the earth — and to the inner sanctum of his heart.” You can find a further description of the book, and other testimonials, and even buy the book and write a review of your own (yes please do) at amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Audacity-Disciplines-Human-Flourishing/dp/1634890760/ The B U School of Public Health thought my message on human flourishing so important for its faculty and students it has organized a free September 13, 2017 seminar on how religious disciplines impact human health, based largely on my book.  Please register and attend: http://www.bu.edu/sph/news-events/signature-events/deans-seminars/book-release-events/spirituality-and-public-health-how-religious-disciplines-impact-human-health/ Then First Parish in Concord is hosting a book launch …