We have been talking all semester about moving from the small self to the Larger Self, which means to bring together your day-to-day experience living in this visible, competitive, and finite world (of the horizontal) with your Eternal Being (on the vertical). You are now doing the Spiritual Practices Project, which I consider to be the highlight of the course because it puts all these abstract ideas to the test. And the most practical question seems to be: what will happen as you do these spiritual practices? What is it really like to move from the small self to the Larger Self? Continue reading
High school gives students lots of opportunities for emotional reactivity –
and for practicing its opposite, non-reactivity.*
Dear World Religion students,
We’ve been talking about the common message contained within the cross-cultural Wisdom Tradition, which states that the goal of life is to marry the horizontal material existence in time with the vertical dimension of the invisible and eternal. Or more personally, we have said that the aim of life is to integrate the small self of daily life with the Larger Self that lives forever. All of these lofty and abstract ideals may be appealing, but what does it mean in real life and how do we get there? And, in keeping with body-mind-heart emphasis of the Tradition, how do we make sure the spiritual journey isn’t just some kind of head trip? The surprising and eminently practical answer to these questions is something that Buddhist writer Steve Batchelor calls non-reactivity. Continue reading
The Subong Monastery in Causeway Bay where we will be taught about Korean Zen Buddhism and their practices.
So far in this course we have established that in order to become what we are meant to be as human beings – to majestically harmonize the small self of the horizontal dimension with the Larger Self of the vertical – we need to open our body-mind-heart to the spiritual dimension of life. We do this through various practices that relax and open us to something beyond our own selves.
During our field trip to the Subong Monastery, the monks and nuns will teach us about breathing, chanting, prostrations, and meditations. I want each person to contribute some idea in preparation for our visit. Find some valuable points from your article and record your insights on the Google doc (with a picture or two), which you will then share with the rest of the class. Continue reading
Welcome to high school, and to my World Religions class! I’d really like to teach you something valuable this semester. Of course, you’ll learn a lot academically about Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam, but I’m hoping you actually come away with something far more important – something that can be applied to your life. So far I have made the point that religions envision the entire universe as being composed of two dimensions – a visible, every day existence that I’m calling “the horizontal,” and an invisible dimension of reality – “the vertical” – that might be called God, Ultimate Reality, the Sacred, Brahman, or the Kingdom of Heaven. Religions across the world teach that true happiness comes in living life at the intersections of these two dimensions. Continue reading