The Perennial Tradition: Weekly Summary

The Perennial Tradition

Summary: Sunday, August 11—Friday, August 16, 2019

If it is true, it is always from the one Holy Spirit. —Thomas Aquinas (Sunday)

We are rediscovering the philosophia perennis, shared universal truth, and at a rather quick pace—God seems urgent at this point in our tragic history. (Monday)

In every historical epoch and in every cultural tradition, there are those who practice a form of contemplation that puts them in a position to receive the gift of an unfiltered divine encounter. —James Danaher (Tuesday)

If we take the world’s enduring religions at their best, we discover the distilled wisdom of the human race. —Huston Smith (Wednesday)

We are made, the scriptures of all religions assure us, in the image of God. Nothing can change that original goodness. —Eknath Easwaran (Thursday)

Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept. Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization. Faith is opening, accepting, and responding to Ultimate Reality. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system. —Snowmass Conference (Friday)

 

Practice: The Welcoming Prayer

Earlier this week we saw how unfiltered encounters with the divine are hallmarks of the Perennial Tradition, experienced by people across religions. Contemplative practice is anything we do that intentionally opens our hearts, minds, and bodies to this unitive consciousness or presence to Love.

One of my favorite practices is the Welcoming Prayer created by Mary Mrozowski (1925–1993), a spiritual teacher, mystic, and founding member of Contemplative Outreach. It is based on her personal experience of surrender as essential to transformation and the teachings of Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675–1751) and Fr. Thomas Keating (1923–2018). Welcoming Prayer is a simple way of surrendering to God’s presence in our daily life. This method can help us dismantle unhelpful mental and emotional habits so that we respond rather than react to circumstances. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we welcome or accept abuse, trauma, or oppression, but rather our feelings around those incidents. We then become empowered to take necessary action more freely, creatively, and lovingly.

Set aside some quiet time alone to try this practice. Begin by becoming aware of how your body feels. Notice any tension or pain. After a few moments of silence, read the following intention aloud prayerfully:

Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment
because I know it is for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions,
persons, situations and conditions.

I let go of my desire for security.
I let go of my desire for affection.
I let go of my desire for control.

I let go of my desire to change any
situation, condition,
person, or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God and
the healing action and grace within. [1]

Holding this intention lightly, identify a hurt or an offense, something or someone who has hurt you or let you down recently or in the past.

  • Feel the pain of the offense the way you first felt it, or are feeling it in this moment, and notice the hurt in your body. Why is this important? Because if you move it to your mind, you will go back to dualistic thinking and judgments: good guy/bad guy, win/lose, either/or.
  • Feel the pain so you don’t create the win/lose scenario. Identify yourself with the suffering side of life; how much it hurt to hurt; how abandoned you felt to be abandoned.
  • Once you can move to that place and know how much it hurts to hurt, you could not possibly want that experience for anybody else.
  • This might take a few minutes. Welcome the experience, and it can move you to the Great Compassion. Don’t fight it. Don’t split and blame. Welcome the grief and anger in all of its heaviness. Now it will become a great teacher.
  • If you can do this you will see that it is welcoming the pain and letting go of all of your oppositional energy that actually frees you from it! Who would have thought? It is our resistance to things as they are that causes most of our unhappiness—at least I know it is for me.

References:
[1] Mary Mrozowski, “The Welcoming Prayer.” More information about the history and practice of this prayer is available at https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/welcoming-prayer.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis, disc 6 (Sounds True: 2010), CD.

For Further Study:
Eknath Easwaran, Original Goodness (Nilgiri Press: 1989, 1996)

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

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

Image credit: A Moment of Prayer (detail), Frederick Arthur Bridgeman, 1877, Private Collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In every historical epoch and in every cultural tradition, there are those who practice a form of contemplation that puts them in a position to receive the gift of an unfiltered divine encounter. —James Danaher
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