I'm a naturalistic pantheist which means that "I believe in God/dess but spell it N-A-T-U-R-E." In other words, I am nontheistic. Knowing of the interdependence of nature (food cycle, etc.) as well as the interdependence of actions (ancestors' past actions affect my current circumstances and my actions will affect the circumstances of my descendents) fills with a sense of gratefulness which I demonstate both through my actions as well as concrete actions of respect and honor.
If you are interested:
These are the simple practices I developed based upon my exposure to such traditions as Reformed Druidry, Asatru, other forms of neopaganism as well as similar traditions within Buddhism, Hinduism and Shinto. I developed them to fit in better with naturalistic views but with the spirit of the traditions mentioned above. These cover a basic offeratory (libation and votive offering) service, a "Sacred Meal" practice, chanting, and meditation practices.
I. Naturalistic Spirituality Service Format
Create a small "altar" or "shrine" area with a picture of the planet Earth (or "Gaia" if you prefer). You can add candles, incense or other suitable decorations to the area if you wish. Light the candles or incense to provide mood and visual and olfactory stimuli.
(Out of respect for the interdependent forces of the Universe, wash both hands and mouth in a mindful manner before the service.)
(In front of the altar, chant "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." a few times with hands in a position of reverence.)
3) Devotional drumming, singing, chanting, sharing, discussion, etc
(Do whatever devotional activities you or the group feels led to do. This can include drumming or singing along with recordings. This can include the chant of "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." It can also include chants or songs from other cultures, religions, and spiritual traditions. A discussion or short talk can also be given if desired.)
4) Offering to the Interdependent Forces of the Universe
(Offer a cup or glass of water and a small portion of grain, bread, chips or crackers to the interdependent forces of the Universe by placing them in front of the altar while softly chanting "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." a few times with hands in a position of reverence. Be in a grateful and thankful mood for the bounty that has been provided to you from Nature and from the work of others to provide that food and drink for your use.)
5) Sharing of the Bounty
(Everyone present can have a small sip of water and a taste of the grain. Be sure to leave a small portion of each in the cup and plate or bowl for offering back to Nature.)
6) Offering Prayer
(Take the remnants of the offered water and grain outside and respectfully and mindfully sprinkle them on the ground for the use of the plants, animals, and insects.)
"I (We) make this offering to the Earth and the Sun (Moon – if the service is at night), and to honor our ancestors who by their actions in the past continue to influence our present. I (We) thank the interdependent forces of the Universe for your many blessings. To you I (we) return this portion of your abundance, O our Mother, even as I (we) must return to you."
II. The Sacred Meal
Most spiritual paths utilise ceremonies similar to those of other faiths. I would like to present possibilities that may appeal to those who are attracted to the idea of naturalistic spirituality.
The purpose of any form of spiritual practice, whether interpreted in a supernaturalist or naturalistic vein, is the recognition of interdependence and being able to positively express one's identity while respecting that interdependence, rather than expressing one's identity in a negative way (which is known as egocentrism).
I would like to discuss a practice that is common to all people and so makes a very concrete, easy to follow practice - the Sacred Meal. This ceremony is a simple recognition that the food and drink of your meal is the result of the interdependent forces of the Universe. In more poetic terms we could say our food is composed of the physical body of "God", not in some strange archane mystical sense, but in reality. Furthermore, shared meals often serve as the basis of not only shared spiritual ideals, but also community building. This has
long been a practice in the bhakti yoga tradition so I would like to present it in a more universal, nonsectarian vein.
There are parallels to this tradition in many of the world's
religions and spiritual paths. For example, in Christianity, this is represented by Communion or Eucharist as well as within the earlier tradition of the agape meal. In Judaism, this tradition can be found in the Shabbat dinner and the Passover Meal. In many Hindu traditions and paths such as Krishna Consciousness, you will find the tradition
of prasadam where one offers the meal to the divine before one consumes it. In Sikhism, there is the tradition of the langar meal which provides spiritual benefit.
Here is simple form of the Sacred Meal in order to be more conscious of the interdependent origins of your food and drink. Create a small "altar" area with a picture of the planet Earth (or "Gaia" if you prefer). You can add candles, incense or other suitable decorations to the area if you wish. Before eating or drinking present your food to the interdependent forces of the Universe by placing it or a small portion on a serving dish in front of this picture while softly chanting "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." a few times with hands in a position of reverence. Be in a grateful and thankful mood for the bounty that has been provided to you from Nature and from the work of others to provide that food and drink for
When you begin to eat or drink, be sure you recognize with your full consciousness just what you will be consuming and some of the factors that helped make it available to you. This includes the agriculture, the weather and soil, the human labor, harvest of the materials, packaging and transporting the goods, etc.
For maximum benefit the ceremony should be carried out before every meal, or at the very least, on one occasion each week.
III. Way of Oneness Chanting Practice
Being more musically inclined, I created a nonsectarian alternative to the combination of chanting a rhythmic phrase (or mantra) to a visual object (often a scroll, picture or statue). This is a more active form of meditation as compared to the silent form of meditation which is discussed below.
You are more than welcome to use this chanting practice if you think you may find it possibly useful. While there are many folks that seem to believe their particular mantra (which is a phrase which is repeated as a focusing device has "magical power", it really is the mindfulness that matters. The mantra is just one of the vehicles you can use to get there.
I recommend "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." as the chanting and meditation mantra which is appropriate for nonsectarian, universal spirituality in the Way of Oneness. This phrase is a reframing and translation of the Hindu term "satchitananda" (which means pure being, pure consciousness, and pure bliss) and is another way of referring to the interdependent forces of the Universe.
I use two forms: "Be One. Be Peace." for those who prefer a four syllable "mantra" or more often I recommend "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." for those who prefer the pace of a six syllable "mantra". As in drumming, people who like to chant are attracted to the rhythm and they find it an easy way to center themselves and become mindful.
The specific chanting practice method that I find helpful in the
vein of the Way of Oneness (the realization of interdependence) is to chant "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace" in a position of reverence (palms together in front of chest with fingers pointing upward - a traditional gesture of respect) to a picture or photograph of the planet Earth which is a wonderful visual representation of the interdependent forces of the Universe. Just chant this phrase loudly
or softly in a comfortable pace until you are satisfied.
IV. Silent Meditation Practice in the Way of Oneness
Meditation is simply learning to live in the moment, when nothing distracts you and when you are not tied to the past or anxious about the future. In meditation you become peacefully aware of your real self. The more you use it, the more aware you become. When you learn to live life for each moment, to enjoy and appreciate life to the fullest at that moment, you suddenly become impervious to the myraid
of doubts and fears that you've lived with all your life.
There are a couple of simple techniques for silent meditation as well. You do not have to sit on the floor. You can sit with erect back on a chair. Many people say try for 15 minutes twice a day. I say start with a simpler goal - 5 minutes twice per day. The benefits include stress management and relaxation benefits which help the body, increased mindfulness and focus, and increased energy. The mindfulness can be a benefit to your spiritual life, but
meditation also has "non-spiritual" benefits. Here are two easy techniques:
Breathing meditation - 1) Check posture. 2) Close your eyes and relax. 3) Focus on your breath entering and leaving your body. 4) Count breaths mentally one to four. Repeat. 5) Don't fight a wandering mind, but calmly direct it back to task. 6) Sit for a minute afterwards.
"Mantra" technique (choose a personal "calm" word or phrase that you will repeat in your meditation – I use the nonsectarian "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace.") - 1) and 2) as above in the Breathing meditation. 3) Listen to your breathing and let it relax you with each breath. 4) Once you are relaxed, mentally "hear" your "calm" word or phrase in your mind. Let it repeat in your mind. 5) Don't fight a wandering mind, but calmly direct it back to task. 6) Sit for a minute afterwards.
· 1 decade ago