Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Would A Church Look Like?

I am thinking of what a "church" would look like. I am more thinking out loud in hopes that people provide some insightful feedback. Which is a bit unfair given that I haven't fully revealed what the meditation is yet. Here are some of my principals of practice/teaching that may help.

I noticed in writing this that I am speaking as if this is going to happen. This too concerns me as the very idea is frightening to me. I do not think that overall religion has been of great value to the world.

1. I teach method not results. It is not my job to determine how anyone's soul manifests. This is the work of the student, not the teacher. I will not provide a 'right' answer to one's trials as doing so can be of no benefit. Nor will I lead students to those answers.

2. There is no degree system. However, I believe (at this time) the first accomplishment in the process is experiencing Divine Grace. This is the state of so reducing the automatic personality that one feels the love of the divine and of being 'clean'. One's life misdemeanors are no longer a burden and are but a memory without attachment as if they were read in a book rather than having power in the present.

3.  The meditation is based on the Qabala but in a much simplified form. Any junior high school student could understand the concept.

4.  Because the brain is not fully formed for long term thinking and a bit of life experience is required, generally speaking, I'd prefer people over the age of 25 participate.

5.  My role would be more of a facilitator than a teacher with the exception of the basic facts of the meditation.

6. Given item 2, a ranking of achievement with the process would be self-declared. This is the ideal. In the real world, people deceive themselves and/or try to deceive others. I am not sure how to handle this or if I should simply ignore it. One method is to allow self-declaration up to a point and then determine that after a certain point something needs confirmed.

This results in some problems. First, the idea of my or anyone else conferring a title demarcating spiritual achievement is against my concept of the process and proper teaching. Secondly, I cannot conceive of any ranking system given I have only one definite marker of such achievement at this time. Thirdly, ranking in general doesn't sit right with me.

Maybe the rank of facilitator could be determined. If someone can lead the discussions and keep everyone on track without interfering in the process of others, one can earn that rank. This would be a form of service to others.

7. This is a spiritual practice, method, life style and world view. It could be practiced by any religion at all. Is it then correct to call it a church, temple or any other such thing?

8. I like Witch Doctor Joe's concept of a secondary tradition. His Veritas Wicca is an adjunct to whatever you practice. The Meditation is much like that as you can tell by item seven.

9. I have had solid success at healing others using the Meditation. I would like advanced practitioners to serve others in this way. That said, I am warned by Ram Daas's words. He posits that one's only duty is to work on the Self as when one achieves enlightenment we all do. So called helping others is an ego trip. There is something fundamentally right about that but then helping to reduce the suffering of others is a positive thing in my book. I am conflicted on this point.

10. I have witnessed that the lack of behavioral dogma in the Pagan community has done more harm than good. People's random behavior can be very hurtful as no one knows what to expect from anyone else. In part, this is because we are not fully realized human beings. In part, societies need some sort of structure. So do groups, churches and the like. That said, dogma is what makes many of the world's religions so harmful to the spirit.

I know the Bahai have a doctrine that says any dogma or practice of their religion should be abandonned if the government forbids it. This is an attempt to keep their religion politically non-threatening. Beautiful in principal but so far not helpful in the Middle East.

I do believe in a spiritual principal that says we are born into the culture we are for a reason. Therefore, those cultural rules, no matter how silly, are there to teach us. This is true whether we follow them or break them. I also believe that at times we must practice antinomianism. While the link mostly puts this in a religious context, I look at from a secular point of view. Sometimes breaking societal rules, with purpose, is instructional. For instance, it can clear the mind from prejudice about long-haired men, if a man intentional grows his hair to be more like those he dislikes. Well timed acts of antinomianism can be instructive for those that witness it too but the actor normally pays a high price for that.

Maybe some generalized rules are a good thing, if it is paired with antinomianism. I am torn on this issue.

11.  It is my belief that those in charge should appoint someone they will listen too as an ombudsman for the group. That person's job is to hear complaints from those that cannot tell the leader directly and, if s/he feels they are justified, to pass them to the leader. In addition, that person's job is to call foul when s/he feels the leader has abused his or her authority within the system. If the organization is large enough, perhaps each leader should have two such people. One s/he selects and another elected. I think the reasons for that are obvious.

Those are my thoughts of the moment.






8 comments:

Melissa said...

I don't think "church" is the right word. When I think of church, I think of worship of something. The comparison I first thought of was Buddhism, without the Buddha. Then I thought it was probably more like the first group of an order like the Golden Dawn.

It seems to me that for the first year or so you need to focus on creating an initial group. That group can help you work out the different ways to teach the Manifestation Meditation and can help you figure out where to go with it. Different people have different strengths -- you may find that it can go places you haven't yet considered.

That year would also give you time to write a book and to get a firmer idea of what structure you want the group to have.

At the end of the year, you could try your first small expansion. You would be able to see if people you've taught are able to teach. You would be able to see more clearly if there's a progression to be undertaken.

I find the idea fascinating. My advice would be to go slowly enough that you can course correct and control it.

Robert said...

Good Suggestions All.

I really agree with your discomfort on the word church. I have thought of temple, group, organization, and the like.

I have even thought of names, the best so far is "Temple of the Unified Soul" but still I feel discomfort.

The working group also seems like a good idea and just letting things develop.

Andrew B. Watt said...

When Saint Francis received the command to "rebuild my church" from an image of the Crucified Christ, he interpreted it literally, and found a physical church building in great disrepair and re-built it himself.

Maybe this is part of the procedure...? If you build or rebuild a sacred space physically, you may be in better shape to understand the directive you received. I know that I felt considerably better after constructing a half-dozen labyrinths out of stones in a few out of the way places... and doing so usually helps restore the landscape in a variety of ways.

Yvonne Chireau said...

In the meditation class that I used to attend they had someone come and teach something called the Oneness blessing. I never took the class or took the initiation, but I really enjoyed going to their Friday night "services" where the initiates blessed everyone, then each other. It was like an awesome reiki share.

http://www.onenessuniversity.org/

I see now that they train all kinds of people to do the blessing, which is very much a low key version of your meditation. Perhaps your church will be a training church, not particularly evangelical (converting others) or sectarian (anyone can do it).

I do not think that you have to re-invent the wheel. There is something powerful in the air and the paths are beginning to converge.

I am so pleased and honored to know you.

Robert said...

Andrew,

I love hearing intepretations that I have never thought of. Thank you. I am not going to 'build' anything with my back but I can see what you are getting at.

Robert said...

Yvonne,

"honored to know you" is about the best compliment one can receive. Thank you.

I have thought of how to 'open' church 'service'. One of the ways is how you suggested.

Scott Stenwick said...

I like the idea of basing whatever sort of group you start on a meditation center than a mainstream church or even some sort of neo-pagan organization.

What you don't want is a bunch of people who decide they're going to turn the group into a social club. That happens with a lot of churches, where much of what people wind up doing is watching others perform a ritual. It's possible to be engaged with what you're supposed to be watching, sure, but how many of the folks assembled are really just there to chat with their friends after the service and couldn't care less about spiritual goals? With a meditation center that's harder to do, because you have a specific practice and everyone is supposed to be doing it, not just gawking.

As a matter of fact, meditation in general is so common these days that you can just tell someone you teach meditation and they have a pretty good idea of what you do. To a pretty significant percentage of people, meditation is not even considered that weird, just a little eccentric.

Robert said...

Scott, that is a brilliant idea!

In fact, I am going to a meditation center now. Tonight was my first night. I liked the atmosphere.