“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
“Whenever your heart space, your mind space, and your body space are all present and accounted for at the same time, you can experience pure presence, a moment of deep inner connection with the pure, gratuitous Being of anything and everything. It will often be experienced as a quiet leap of joy in the heart.”
-Richard Rohr, December 9, 2018*
Education as it is currently understood, particularly in the West, ignores the human soul, or essential Self. This essential Self is not some vague entity whose existence is a matter of speculation, but our fundamental “I,” which has been covered over by social conditioning and by the superficiality of our rational mind. In North America we are in great need of a form of training that would contribute to the awakening of the essential Self. Such forms of training have existed in other eras and cultures and have been available to those with the yearning to awaken from the sleep of their limited conditioning and know the potential latent in the human being.
—Kabir Helminski, Living Presence, p. 6.
Three years ago I had something of a breakthrough in my teaching philosophy that had been in formation for a long time. I had been searching my entire career for what power in education really means, and service learning had been my pedagogy of choice for the first twenty years, but in 2012 I began focusing extensively on the inner life. Then three years ago, prompted by G.I. Gurdjieff’s emphasis on the body, mind, and heart, I re-organized my “Service, Society, and the Sacred” (SSS) elective course around these three centers of intelligence, which I summarized in a blog entry.
All the big themes that came together in that 2015 blog – body-mind-heart, the vertical dimension, and spiritual practices – are working well; I’m thrilled that after so many years of experimenting I have finally found a relatively stable curriculum. The one major addition in the intervening three years has been teaching of the Enneagram, which has become perhaps the most valuable aspect of the course for students. This entry, then, is a distillation of that earlier blog, and an attempt to further identity the essentials of this approach. Continue reading
The statue of a war-weary St. Francis that stands outside of
the famous basilica that bears his name in Assisi.
“What is the relation of [contemplation] to action? Simply this. He [or she] who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love will not have anything to give others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas. There is nothing more tragic in the modern world than the misuse of power and action.”
Before heading to a retreat with my spiritual teacher Cynthia in Scotland last summer, I took an excellent walking tour through the old city of Edinburgh where I came to appreciate the profound changes brought to society by the Protestant Reformation. The revolution in perspectives, values, and social impact were world-altering, and I felt unusually proud of my Protestant roots in the year celebrating the 500th anniversary of (my namesake) Martin Luther’s break from the Catholic Church.
During that same tour, however, I also learned the disturbing truth that church attendance in Edinburgh has plummeted from 75% in 1900 to a paltry 3% today. This was a wake up call for me, which confirmed what I sensed in my classroom: traditional institutional Christianity is in freefall among many segments of modern society. While this may not be true in significant swathes of Africa and Asia, I consider it something of a crisis for religious communities in my particular niche of the world. And yet I find few people within the Church asking what seems so starkly obvious to me: why is the Christian faith failing to attract young people? Continue reading
In June, 2016 I attended an Enneagram workshop in London taught by two of the leading Enneagram teachers in the world, Russ Hudson (teaching) and Robert Holden (seated). In this entry I summarize a recent teaching session done by Robert on how the the Enneagram can be used as a tool to develop greater self-love.
“The Enneagram is the most powerful system I know for identifying and releasing inner blocks to love and for enabling you to be a loving presence in the world.”
-Robert Holden, Loveability
Last fall as we were reading Simon’s confrontation with the Lord of the Flies in William Golding’s famous novel by that name, we discussed how the beast strategically attacks Simon at the level of self-doubt and personal insecurity. I paused, then, and asked my students: how many of you are tougher on yourselves than anyone else is in your life? Immediately 85% of the hands went up. That was a watershed moment for me, for I realized that perhaps the biggest problem most HKIS students face is what is called the Inner Critic, which can become a corrosive force upon one’s being. Continue reading
When you become an upperclassman at HKIS, the word “college” looms large over everything else. The question at this stage of your life, to paraphrase Jesus’ famous line, is, “How to gain college admission without losing your soul?” In response to this concern, I fill the “Service, Society, and the Sacred” (SSS) curriculum with teachings, activities, and outings that will give you the opportunity to reduce your stress and discover a more grounded self. Continue reading