The Tao Becomes Flesh: Seeking Divinity in the Dark

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The “Christ Temple” at Tao Fung Shan retreat center.

Logos and the Light

Probably the most memorable passage from my youth about God, Jesus, and the nature of reality was from John 1:1-5, 14:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Image result for logos word made fleshWord was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it….The Word came flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”

Christmas scenes accompany these memories along with the glorious refrains of Handel’s Messiah, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed….And all flesh shall see it together.” Continue reading

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The Wisdom Way of Knowing and Teaching: Reflections on the Epistemological Foundations of the SPEX Curriculum

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A Collective Tea Ceremony Experience

Introduction

A year ago a group of religion teachers at Image result for below waterlineHKIS began teaching a new series of courses called “Spiritual Explorations” (SPEX) at HKIS, which started with grade 9 students in January, 2018. In a previous entry, I shared the first unit of SPEX 9 on “waking up” to a spiritual life and  students’ positive responses. The SPEX pedagogy, I proposed, involved three defining characteristics, which I summarize below as context for this entry. The focus in this piece is to go “under the waterline” and speculate on the epistemological foundations of the SPEX curriculum, the deeper philosophical commitments of the SPEX teaching team’s approach to knowing itself. Continue reading

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A New “Good News” for Students: Best Books of 2018

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Final class with my “Service, Society, and the Sacred” students as we shared our  stories of our growth throughout the semester.

“We worshipped Jesus instead of following him on his same path. We made Jesus into a mere religion instead of a journey toward union with God and everything else. This shift made us into a religion of “belonging and believing” instead of a religion of transformation.”

Richard Rohr

Dear Readers,

Whereas in past years (such as 2017 or 2016), it was not difficult for me to spot a specific spiritual highlight, it took me some time to identify this year’s big event, which was a slow dawning rather than a bolt from the blue. Upon further reflection, however, this year’s insight bubbled up. into my consciousness.

The realization is this: mainstream Christianity has got the wrong message for today’s students. Continue reading

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“Serving Others Includes Serving Myself:” Final SSS Reflection by Ana Gallagher

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The top picture is of Ana (left) and India (right) in grade 9 participating in a flag day to raise money for charity in “Humanities I in Action,” while the bottom picture comes three years later as the two girls do a conscious walking activity in “Service, Society, and the Sacred.”

Introduction

It took me many years to understand the simple truth that Ana shares in this essay: to serve others effectively means taking care of yourself. This seemingly obvious point indicates a major blind spot in our educational systems – that students don’t truly understand how to take care of themselves. They become so outer focused that they lose all but a superficial sense of self-care. Continue reading

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“On Retreat with Three Wisdom Streams: Contemplating the Dao De Jing, the Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers, and the Bhagavad Gita” by Marty Schmidt and Sangeeta Bansal

The first multi-day spiritual retreat with HKIS faculty in many years was held October 14-15, 2017 at Tao Fung Shan retreat center above Shatin.

Dear Teachers,

Welcome to a very special retreat, which will be held on Saturday-Sunday, January 26-27 at the Tao Fung Shan Christian Centre above Shatin. We are writing this background to the retreat to entice you to come as well as introduce you to the extremely rich content that will be offered. We will present the writings of three major religious traditions: the Taoist classic Dao De Jing; the writings of the early Christian desert fathers and mothers of the 4th and 5th century; and selected readings from the Hindu classic scripture the Bhagavad Gita. Both of us have recently read the Dao De Jing and found it to be the most accessible ancient wisdom text that we’ve ever read. Additionally, Marty found study of the Christian desert tradition to be totally eye-opening only a few years ago on a retreat in New Zealand, while the foundations of Sangeeta’s spiritual life – like many others from the Indian subcontinent – are found in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. To bring these rich traditions together for a weekend of study, discussion, practice, and quiet abiding is a privilege for us. Continue reading

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Being Present to Presence: Goal-Setting and the Spiritual Life

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On retreat with Cynthia on Holy Isle, Scotland, June, 2017

“[Prayer]is a way of… living in awareness of the Presence, and even enjoying the Presence. The contemplative is not just aware of God’s Loving Presence, but trusts, allows, and delights in it.”

-Richard Rohr, October 29, 2018

Introduction

Nothing marks our teaching as international Image result for goal-settingschool educators more than goal-setting, which we do at every level: school-wide, departments, teams, individuals. Our daily to-do lists writ large. Goal-setting is part and parcel of our institutional settings, and certainly is the implicit message we pass down to our students.

And so when we come to our spiritual lives, Image result for spiritual goal-settingwe do the same thing. If I read this many books, do my meditation sittings twice a day for 20 minutes, attend such and such retreats, then at some point I’ll reach the spiritual state that I’ve been striving for for so long.

How does this goal-setting approach square with the Wisdom Tradition? Continue reading

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All You Need is Love: The Body’s Natural Aptitude for Wisdom

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Conscious walking and grounding practices
in “Service, Society, and the Sacred.”

“Helping the human family move toward the next step of human evolution in love is the most urgent and challenging task of contemporary spirituality….God wants creation to become fully conscious that it is imbued with divine love and living in that love.”

-Richard Rohr, “Evolving in Love,” November, 8, 2018.

Dear Students,

Now that we are approaching 2/3 of the way through “Service, Society, and the Sacred,” we come to what for most students is the most crucial point. My argument all along has been that your intended destiny as a member of the human race is to live a satisfying life of self-understanding and authentic service to society. But to do so requires a journey of discernment to find your particular niche in the matrix of life in the 21st century. TheSPEX Logo E path towards this destiny is to wake up the body and heart centers that have lain dormant for most of you for some time, and to integrate these with the overdeveloped faculty of the mind. Most of you have come to a better understanding of your specific strengths and areas of imbalance through the course, culminating in the personal application of the Enneagram to your life circumstances. The crucial next step of this process, then, is to choose a spiritual practice that aims to rebalance your personality type’s habitual patterns of thought and behavior that ill-serve your quest for a life well-lived. Continue reading

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