Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meditating on Scripture

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16 King James Version (KJV)

When we read a scriptural passage from the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada or even from a spiritual poet like Rumi or Hafez, spending some time before and after our reading to purposefully prepare our hearts and allow the words and their vibrations to settle into us is a powerful practice. 
Meditating on scripture is not an intellectual or analytical practice. Instead, it is a devotional practice, aimed at getting our hearts and minds in closer alignment with the Divine. When we prepare ourselves for an indwelling of scripture, we are inviting the indwelling of what Christians call the Holy Spirit. 
I love to read scriptures considered sacred in every tradition, because I feel spiritually blessed and enriched witnessing the perfect alignment of the words with the very same One Spirit. This greatly fortifies my faith and gives me confidence in the human ability to connect to our Universal God. 
In my interfaith seminary training, my second yoga teacher training and on the retreats I have attended, I found a like-minded group of people who love to follow this practice of meditating on scripture, and as the verse above describes, "admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in [our] hearts to the Lord." 
Though this verse addresses meditating and singing in community, the practice of meditating on scripture is often part of a personal spiritual practice. Many people believe that they need to be in a church or temple under the guidance of an ordained clergy member to receive spiritual instruction and blessing. This is not true. We all carry Divine power within us, and it waits there for us to connect with it. 
Try this practice at home:
1. Go to a place that is quiet.
2. Find a spiritual book of your choice.
3. Invite God/Goddess to commune with you, and light incense or a candle.
4. Choose a brief passage and read it (no more than one to three verses).
5. Repeat the passage aloud and then internally. 
6. Sit for some time in silence.
7. Thank God/Goddess for illuminating the words for you, either presently or at a future time.
8. For the rest of your day, notice any moments in which the words come back to you and take note of experiences or conversations which may carry the refrain of the scriptural passage. 
Don't think so much about perfect interpretation of the scripture or about whether you understand it. Try to feel it, instead. 
For today, I found this brief passage in the Koran from book 61, verses 12-14:
He will forgive your sins, admit you into Gardens graced with flowing streams, into pleasant dwellings in the Gardens of Eternity. That is the supreme triumph. And He will give you other things that will please you: His help and imminent breakthrough. [Prophet] give the faithful the good news. You who believe, be God's helpers. As Jesus, son of Mary, said to the disciples, 'Who will be my helpers in God's cause?' The disciples said, 'We shall be God's helpers.' 
Today, I will keep the vision of gardens with flowing streams in my mind and connect to the feeling this image evokes. I will ask today for a greater understanding of how to be God's helper. I will feel a connection with all of God's helpers in every part of the world, in every belief system. I believe that God has many helpers.  

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