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Center for Action and Contemplation

Perennial Tradition: Weekly Summary

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Perennial Tradition

Summary: Sunday, July 29-Friday, August 3, 2018

The underlying messages that different religions and denominations use are often in strong agreement, but they use different metaphors to communicate their own experience of union with God. (Sunday)

One way to summarize the substance of perennial wisdom (paraphrasing Aldous Huxley) is:

  • There is a Divine Reality underneath and inherent in the world of things;
  • There is in the human soul a natural capacity, similarity, and longing for this Divine Reality;
  • The final goal of existence is union with this Divine Reality. (Monday)

Our goal is to illustrate both the image and the likeness of God by living in conscious loving union with God. (Tuesday)

Everything you see, think, feel, and imagine is part of and never apart from the same Source. We call this Source by such names as God, Reality, Brahman, Allah, One, Krishna, the Absolute, and the Nondual. The list of names is long; the reality to which they all point is the same. —Rami Shapiro (Wednesday)

Awakening is the expression of that grace in which we see through our apparent separation and notice that we are already one with divine Presence and with all that is. All that is missing is awareness. —David G. Benner (Thursday)

What do you want? If it’s union with Love, then listen to that longing and it will be a reliable guide to truth and intimacy. (Friday)


Practice: Imagining Oneness

James Finley, a faculty member at the Center for Action and Contemplation, offers a guided meditation to bring this week’s meditations to the experiential level of the heart:

Imagine you are out walking on the beach and God says, “Go ahead, pick a grain of sand, any grain.” No matter what grain of sand you choose, God is present in it. Since God is not subject to division or diminishment of any kind, God is completely present in that one little grain of sand. Furthermore, since the whole universe flows from God, is sustained by God, and subsists in God, you are holding in your hand a grain of sand in which you, along with the whole universe and everyone and everything in it, is wholly present.

Surprised by such an all-encompassing oneness, you begin to get a little weak in the knees. Then God moves in to finish you off by suddenly expanding this awareness of realized oneness in all directions. “Go ahead,” God says, “pick a place, a situation, a circumstance in which you might find yourself.” If you choose a wooded area, you see yourself in your mind’s eye surrounded by trees. God is there, inviting you to reach out and pick a leaf off one of the low-hanging branches. As you do so, you realize you are holding a leaf in which the totality of reality is wholly present. . . . No matter what you might choose, you realize you are choosing something in which God is wholly present, loving you, and all people and all things, into being.

Then God invites you to reflect on any aspect of yourself. No matter what aspect of yourself you focus on, God is there, wholly present in each breath, each thought and feeling, each turn of your head. You realize, as you sit, that God is present as the ungraspable immediacy of your sitting. . . . As you laugh, God is there as your laughter. As you cry, God is wholly present in each tear that falls from your eyes.

It does not matter what little thing you might choose, within or around you. It might just be the thing that awakens you from your fitful dream of being separate from God, who is the reality of yourself and all that is real. May each of us be so fortunate as to be overtaken by God in the midst of little things. . . . May we, in having our illusory, separate self slain by God, be born into a new and true awareness of who we really are: one with God forever. May we continue on in this true awareness, seeing in each and every little thing we see, the fullness of God’s presence in our lives. May we also be someone in whose presence others are better able to recognize God’s presence in their lives, so that they, too, might know the freedom of the children of God.

James Finley, “Epilogue,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 1 (CAC: 2013), 81-82. (This issue of Oneing, a limited edition publication, is no longer available in print; however, the eBook is available from Amazon and iTunes. Explore additional issues of Oneing at

For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart (Jossey-Bass: 2003)

Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013)

Rami Shapiro, Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent: Sacred Teachings—Annotated & Explained (Skylight Paths Publishing: 2013)

World Wisdom Bible: A New Testament for a Global Spirituality, Rami Shapiro, ed. (Skylight Paths Publishing: 2017)

Image credit: Broken Obelisk (detail), by Barnett Newman. A permanent installation in the reflecting pool on the grounds of the Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas, United States.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Awakening the essential Self is one reason that the Center for Action and Contemplation is dedicated to reinvigorating the teaching of Christian contemplation. The consistent practice of contemplation helps to uncover our essential Self, our connected Self, our True Self. —Richard Rohr
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