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Brother David Steindl-Rast's speech at the International Transpersonal Conference

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We belong together and formally that order of the people who belong together was drawn very narrowly Primitive tribes often considered only themselves to be humans and everybody else was "the Others" and you could treat them any way you wanted but the humans, it was us they treated them [...] belongs together morally right The circle has widened and widened And now this is no longer ethical at all to exclude anyone or anything And not only all humans must be included but all animals, all plants, the whole Kosmos All must be included in order to make ethics really ethical To make [morals moral] So we have already two elements that belong to every religion, doctrine, and morals And now comes the third one because your emotions also do something when you have this peak experience And your emotions come in and celebrate "This was beautiful! Let's celebrate!" And this is the beginning and the seed of ritual Ritual is the celebration of mystic union And even if you're [...] of religion, again, many of you had a peak experience somewhere on a bench in one of those beautiful parks here in Moscow sitting on this bench and suddenly have this beautiful experience of Oneness with God Well, on your way to work you might want to make your little detour and visit this bench and just have another "Oh I sat on this bench and I had that good feeling" And every time you go by it would be that you have that good feeling again That is a little pilgrimage, so you have already a ritual in your life Or on your birthday you celebrate or on some anniversary you celebrate what happened then [...] And that is a really [...] calendar the beginning of it So from your own experience you know that inevitably from the peak experience, from the mystic experience springs all the elements that are associated with religion But now you [...] those on, and community takes over because religion is always a matter of community spirituality is also a matter of community And now the community as a whole sets limits and boxes things in and makes things hardened For instance, doctrine which formally just always referred you back and reminded you of the original mystical experience becomes doctrinea "And it has to be this way and everybody who says it differently must be wrong." So suddenly it has become dogma The same with ethics: Formally it was just one way of expressing how one acts [when one] belongs together Now it has to be done exactly this way it has always been done even though the circumstances have changed completely And that becomes now moralism —another "-ism"—and ritual which formally was the celebration, a spontaneous celebration often mystic experience in whatever form it needed to be celebrated and wanted to be celebrated suddenly has become "you have to do it exactly in this way" "and you have to hold your hands exactly in that way" "and you have to follow exactly in this way" "and walk exactly in this way" And suddenly it has become ritualism And this is no longer a ritual It is as if the life-giving waters, this gush full of the mystic experience suddenly freeze I see all these beautiful fountains here in Moscow And I imagined in winter either they shut them off or they are really ice sculptures—whatever happens— but I see some of the religions in the world and they're all not excluded in many ways like one of those frozen fountains So what do you do with frozen life-giving waters? You have to thaw it up again you make it liquid again How can we do that? Only with the warmth of our own heart Only with the love of our own heart And that's the only warmth that can turn frozen water living water, spiritual water into a life-giving water So religion is not simply like a train that you get on and then we'll get you there but it is a gift and at the same time a task It is the task to make it what it is meant to be It gives you watch, it gives you watch, it brings you watch from the original inspiration but you have to make it your own but with your own life brought with your own warmth of your own heart The two always go together So once we see that once we see how we get inevitably from the mystic experience to religion that we also see that [friending] God what is God is a task of the human heart is a task of our love And so we can ask now the question the second question We answered the question of [what] God [is], [that it's] an open-ended search And now we ask, "How do we experience God?" And here we could say —we could switch for a moment, I'm going to come back to the meaning when we answer the third question— But now try to answer the second question and there I would say How do we experience God—again, from your own experience You know that we live in a given world every moment is a given moment Your own being here is a given, as we say it's a given fact You have not made it, you have not earned it you haven't paid for it you haven't contributed to it It's given, it's simply here It's given. And that confronts us with [...] of experience of Divine and through grateful living if the whole world and everything in it is a given—and nobody can deny that! (you don't have to be of this religion or that religion, this conviction, that conviction this ethnic background or that)— Every human being would have to face the fact that we live in a given world If it's a given world then we can experience it through grateful living And the first thing that we experience is that it comes from a totally mysterious source which we could call the Source or the Giver if you want to personify it but there it is: we're [finding] ourselves in a given world and so that's this mysterious Giver this mysterious Source. We know nothing about except that if you explore it —science explores it, spirituality explores it, poetry explores it, arts and music everybody explores it— and [that's] more and ever more and ever more and becomes more And this dimension of more and ever more is one aspect of the Giver or the Source of everything But then out of this Source comes everything there is And of this everything there is there is also more and ever more; we come to no end the hundred thousand things as the Hindu tradition calls it There's more and ever more and ever more all of those are honest gifts that you and I, we are part of it And that is also divine in a sense because it'll never come to an end in that sense, divine. And that is the Gift. So we experience it more and ever more—which is a term for the Ultimate is a term for God— on the one hand, as the Source or the Giver on the other hand, as the Gift And now we can —The natural thing is to give it all back through this dynamic energy that wants to give it back and you don't have to say "Thank you!" Grandchildren show themselves grateful—they don't show themselves grateful by saying "Thank you" when you bring them the gift and they say "Thank you" but then play with something else you would say they were very well trained but you will not say they were very grateful But when they play with it!—they never say "thank you" but play with it all afternoon— you will afterward say they did really thankful work there so the same with us We don't have to say "Thank you" We don't even have to go to— we would want to go and sing praises but if you forget to do that—we show ourselves grateful by what we do A mother shows herself grateful by being a mother flower shows itself grateful by blooming these beautiful chrysanthemums here A bird shows herself grateful by singing A scientist shows himself grateful by doing science, and so forth A musician, by making music A dancer, the dancing We show ourselves grateful by what we do by this dynamic element Andrew Cohen spoke last night He spoke about the Unmanifest and the Manifest and this dynamic element The Unmanifest is the source from which everything comes The Manifest is everything there is and dynamics is the love and the creativity and all the energy that we put into it and those of you who are familiar with the Christian tradition inevitably have noticed already that what we are talking about is what in the Christian tradition we call God or Father I also say Mother Father, Mother, God, [...], Logos, and the Holy Spirit And you have this beautiful Rublyov icon of the Trinity and that is the most beautiful image of the Trinity that should come to mind in this context For what's important about this is that the moment we started asking how do we experience God We have gotten to a new emerging God-image and it is obvious emerging It is emerging in our time in this sense that more people than before become aware of it But it is obvious emerging You can say, and then we have emerged [...] No, it is emerging because you go on and on and on and on to ever new discoveries In that sense it's an open-ended notion of God an open-ended God view and it is a God view in which we are totally immersed It is no longer a God outside We can no longer live in our time when we know that everything hangs together with everything We can no longer with the God that is somebody else…

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 45 seconds
Country: Russia
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 1,289
Posted by: turiyatita on Jul 10, 2010

Part of speech given by Br. David Steindl-Rast on June, 26, in Moscow, Russia. Video recorded for the project.

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