Bringing Eastern teachings to Western uncertainties
For the past 20 years, a major focus of my spiritual path has been more deep, direct experience of original teachings from the great Eastern traditions: especially Christian, Islamic, Sufi, and Buddhist. A powerful way to do this is with key texts in their original languages, using spiritual practices typical of the ways these teachings were first shared. These include chant, sound mantras, walking meditations and devotional dance.
The best guide I have found to this approach is Neil Douglas-Klotz. The best way to learn from him is through the retreats he leads, and I have done many, but his books also offer these kind of practices, as well as superb extended translations of key texts, and explanations of the roots and sound-meanings of key words and ideas. For more on Neil’s teachings and events see www.abwoon.com
With Neil’s blessing, I have been leading retreats myself using this approach for the past five years. These groups focus on specific teachings that can help us find centredness and right action in the present crises of sustainability, economics, social inequity and more. This links beautifully with the deep ecology approach offered by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.
It is clear from Neil’s re-translations, and the work of Matthew Fox, Thomas Berry and others, that Jesus’ original teachings had a strong creation focus, and urge each of us to play our part now in the ongoing process of creation. Likewise the Quran highlights the covenants between humanity and our creator, for us to embody divine qualities and fulfil them in our role here on Earth.