Rebuilding Our Spiritual Foundation, part 2

In our church, we talk a lot about the idea of "spiritual oneness" with God. The idea is that we are not beings separated from God, but rather, are created from the very being of God. There is no duality, no "us" and "God," no physical body and separate soul. Rather, we are one being, created from and always part of the consciousness of God. This relationship is the foundation of our existence: We are One.

Oneness isn't a new or even particularly revolutionary idea. The concept is found all over Scripture: "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13). "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Deut. 6:4). "Then God said, 'Let us make humans in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'" (Genesis 1:26). "There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call" (Ephesians 4:4). "I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us" (John 17:21).

Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and other spiritual practices also emphasize Oneness. Part of my spiritual philosophy has always been that if there is an underlying similarity in several religious practices, it's probably something I want to examine more deeply. The universal thread that weaves all religious and spiritual ideologies together is the idea of Oneness. Every religious system also has practices, usually taught by the founder of said system, for us to use as tools with which to connect to God and experience Oneness. These spiritual practices become the building blocks of our spiritual foundations.

One of the most effective Oneness methods, and one that's making a comeback in Christian circles, is Centering Prayer. When we think about centering prayer or meditation, most of us probably think of Yoga and Buddhism. The Buddha was known to meditate for extended periods of time, and many of us in the West were introduced to meditation/centering prayer through Buddhism or other Eastern practices. However, this deep form of prayer was also prevalent in the early, pre-institutionalized days of Christianity, when the church still had a profound connection to Judaism. The Benedictine monks, among others, are known for their amazing centering prayer studies.

Centering prayer is a form of silent meditation in which we prepare to experience God within us. It's a way for us to connect consciously with God and understand we are One. In centering prayer, we open our mind, our heart, our whole being to the mystery and love of God. We are taken to a place beyond thoughts and emotions, beyond logic, to a state of pure emotion, a place of ultimate knowing. In centering prayer, we feel we are One with God, and through that connection, one with everything in the universe. It is an experience of enlightenment that affects us emotionally and physically.

Soon at The Current, we're going to be running some Centering Prayer classes with several different teachers. Until those classes start, here are some techniques to help you on your way to a powerful centering prayer experience:

1. Find a comfortable place to sit. Don't lay down so you don't fall asleep. It's best to sit upright.

2. Keep your meditation and prayer centered on God. Don't think about anything that's worrying you. You might want to repeat silently the mantra "God is closer than my own breath.” You might not want to repeat anything. Just try to be quiet for a few minutes (20 is usually best)—that’s difficult enough for Americans!

3. That's it. Just try that for a little bit. As thoughts enter your mind, let them fall away by internally chanting "God and I are one."

The great Christian mystic Joel Goldsmith once wrote, "God in the midst of me is my life, and the bread on my table, the meat and the wine and the water. I do not have to go anywhere; I do not have to think anything. 'Be still and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10). The eternal 'I' is God. I is infinite. I is all-inclusive. In the presence of the I there is fulfillment. Where the spirit of the I is, there is peace, joy, completeness and harmony. I do not have to deserve it: God's rain falls alike on all creation. I only have to be still because it is ‘not by might, nor by power’ (Zechariah 4:6) that Oneness is realized: It is 'in quietness and confidence’ (Isaiah 30:15).”

Meditation: In quietness and confidence, I know the presence of God is here with me.

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