Zen Den Monthly Meditation Series for Sunday September 5, 2021

Before we begin, I’d like to take a moment to thank you for being here. I’m grateful that each of you chose to bring your energy into this circle. I’d also like to point out some interpretation techniques that I use that have come to me through my studies and by going deep within myself. I’m doing this before we begin because for the meditation, I want to solely focus on the message of the readings and not how I got there.

I’m also taking this moment for any of us who have had any trauma related to mainstream religion, specifically Christianity, and all who may have been subjected to hate and judgment based upon people misinterpreting and taking out if context any Bible quotes. Today there is a short Bible quote, a gospel reading, and I’d like to give you a glimpse into how to understand it without having a wall come up due to this trauma.

In this quote, Jesus speaks in public. In public, he doesn’t go into detail with specifics, he throws a concept out there meant to comfort those outside of his close circle. Next, he speaks with more detail to his disciples inside of a house. It has come to me, when I hear or read in the Bible “inside of a house,” I also take this to mean inside of himself, this is his inner work, so he uses some words that can sound judgmental if used or projected on other people or even in discussion with other people. But this is his personal work. The disciples in this sense, are aspects of himself that he is running these concepts by in order to check himself. The women in his group are not mentioned here because he is reviewing his actions as a man in this world. Men in his world are living by different measures due to a man-made hierarchy of worth and laws that reinforce this position.

Lastly, words change overtime. One example is that he uses the word, arrogance. Arrogance is not about being self-assured and standing in your knowledge that comes from your center. Arrogance is when we impose our viewpoint on others, no matter how well thought out or how much time we’ve taken to contemplate it. Arrogance is the assumption that we are the final say about what is right. We are each our own final say about ourselves based upon our lived experiences. So, if there are things that I say that you feel do not resonate, I ask, if possible, to perhaps just put the question marks aside to ponder later. Let the rest of what I say flow through so that anything that I might state later, to qualify or explain something, can still be heard.
With this, I’ll begin.

Opening Prayer:
Mother God of all genders and none, let us all anchor stillness for each other today, so we can gain awareness of You in our lives. Allow us to receive the grace to live with compassion for ourselves and for others so we can all be a part of bringing in a world that feels safe and comfortable for all.

Spiritual Exercise:
Hatsurei-hô – rediscovering the energy center in our womb, tanden, or hara space.
What is Hatsurei-hô – From Frans Steine:
Hatsu 発 means: to arise, to give birth, to reveal what is hidden or to emit.
Rei 霊 means: spirit and inconceivable spiritual ability.
Ho 法 means: dharma, ultimate truth or method.
Therefore Hatsurei-ho means, “The ultimate truth to reveal our hidden inconceivable spiritual ability.”
Demonstrate and group does for 10-20 minutes. Let’s sit in the space we created.

Reading: The Celestine Prophecy (p. 70-71), by James Redfield
“…, ’we humans always seem to take a manipulative posture. No matter what the particulars of the situation, or the subject matter, we prepare ourselves to say whatever we must in order to prevail in the conversation. Each of us seeks to find some way to control and thus to remain on top in the encounter. If we are successful, if our viewpoint prevails, then rather feel weak, we receive a psychological boost. In other words, we humans seek to outwit and control each other not just because of some tangible goal in the outside world that we’re trying to achieve, but because of a lift we get psychologically. This is the reason we see so many irrational conflicts in the world both at the individual level and at the level of nations.’”

Gospel Reading: Mark 7:14-23
14Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 16 [note some manuscripts contain wording from 7:23 here] 17After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.”
20He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.*(see note) 23All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Shared Homily:
The Gospel reading’s language is a bit antiquated with its words of defilement and such. But what is the message? It basically, says that only your own actions affect the status of your spirit, only you can defile yourself. It states that if someone does something wrong to you, it is not a reflection of you. It doesn’t define the value of you or your spirit. I’m sure as women, one of the first things that come to mind when hearing this passage is related to sexual assault and rape. Let me comfort you by pointing out that this passage basically says, “you didn’t ask for it, no matter what and furthermore, it states that you are not made impure by what someone does to you, regardless of what you were doing or wearing at the time. This passage also goes deeper to the fact that even if you think that you are or appear to be willing, if you are a vulnerable person, and it can be said that being female, or a child in this day and age is a vulnerable person in certain circumstances that you are not defiled by the desires of another who maintains a position that society has elevated socially. The actions mentioned, are ways of being and interacting towards others. The behaviors mentioned are not exemptions or excuses for other people to judge, ignore or justify their own actions, regardless of how each age defines these words.*(see note) Sexual assault is an extreme example related to this passage. What this passage also relates to and says is that we are responsible for our own behaviors and how we bring ourselves into community with others regardless of how we perceive the others.

In the Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield points out that when we sometimes engage with another, we do so to get a psychological boost. He is making us aware that there is something going on besides truth, something other than communication. He is making us aware that we need to really check in with ourselves. This checking in with ourselves is along the lines of what Jesus says in the Gospel, it is to ensure that what comes out of us doesn’t defile us. In this life, it seems, the most important thing we deal with is the false reality of dominating ourselves and one another. Taking control is an encouraged behavior in our culture, a culture of “winning.” Taking control has become an ingrained behavior. We believe it to be essential to our survival. But what or who are we taking control of needs to be defined. If we are taking control of our own actions, then yes. But if the control involves taking it away from another by force or coercion or by what is seen as sociably acceptable coercion or force then it is most defiantly not the right way to be with other people in community.

Once we figure out what a truly equal interaction is, the subtlety of these interactions within ourselves and in community with others, we will have no problem living together in equality and balance. Once we can observe ourselves for instance when we may be overstepping our own boundaries of our little internal “nation,” and make adjustments within ourselves then suddenly what seems like a complicated problem to be fixed with education and projects and timelines goes away. How does this subtlety, this apparently small internal shift relate to changing power structures and dynamics? It sounds like the opposite of power. What does it mean to state that we should be in Power With others and not Power Over nor Power Against? Do we even know how to practice it in community, in friendships, in intimate relationships, or even within ourselves? Do we give our power away and take power away from others and call it an even exchange? Could we only be in relationships of intermittent power taking and giving? Do we participate in a wavering imbalance and think we are sharing equally? An imbalance in conversation looks like two people taking turns to excitedly tell their story, in sex it looks like taking turns “on top” or taking turns giving pleasure, in business it is “you pat my back and I’ll pat yours,” it is an exchange of energy, products, or money with valuation and expectations…Power With is not a seesaw nor is it a push and pull, it is closer to a dance but not a dance led by the male partner where the other partner follows. It is a dance free of form, first alone, then side by side, then together.

So, what does it really mean to stand in equal power, a Power With? It means that each person is responsible for the energy that they bring. It means that each of us stands in our vulnerability, naked but without desire or expectation, yet open to the other at the same time. It is a vibrating silence, it is the voice of a whisper, it swirls but doesn’t blow, it is anticipation but not a cavernous void, it is presence, it is pregnant, it does not pull nor does it push. It is constant motion on a cellular level, magnetism at this discreet level that is not big enough to exude anything resembling force. It is the inner most level of the pure love of creation, without any layers piled on. It is the surrender to the internal flow of the universe. Could it be that silence anchors it, allows us to usher it in?

What might it look like in our present reality? It could be just sitting in comfortable silence. It could be calming oneself prior to entering a place of business, it could be not responding a post…What could it look like to you? Let’s take turns chiming in with brief thoughts that may have come to you as you listened to the readings and homily.

Group Discussion:

Ending Prayer: by The Rev. Yolanda M. Norton (from her Beyonce Mass)
Please join me in our ending prayer if it moves you to pray aloud.

Our Mother
who is in heaven and within us
we call upon your names
Your Wisdom come.
Your will be done,
in all the spaces in which you dwell.
Give us each day
sustenance and perseverance.
Remind us of our limits as
we give grace to the limits of others
Separate us from the temptation of the empire,
and deliver us into community.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us,
now and forever. Amen.

Final Blessing:
Peace be with you. May the Holy Spirit remain centered within around and among you.

*note: In the Gospel reading, the words that are missing for Jesus to examine in his inner house, had Jesus been allowed to be fully human in his time, meaning able to embody the experiences of being a woman, are: Shame, guilt, concession, false humility, and blame, or to be linguistically more modern, victim mentality.

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