SEEKING THE INNER BELOVED
Introduction by Jim Wright: Connie B. Shaw is an international speaker, author, workshop facilitator, retreat leader and media guest. Her own spiritual work over the past thirty years has included being a serious student of A Course in Miracles, being a meditator, leading weekly spiritual study groups, being a student and teacher of the Byron Katie Work, and having shepherded forty-one interfaith groups of pilgrims to India without charge.
By way of community selfless service, she has conducted feedings for the homeless in the U.S. and in leper colonies and poor villages in India; has tutored non-literate adults; and has served residents of safe houses and nursing homes. She encourages everyone to expand their capacity to give and to receive love by volunteering at least four hours a week to start. “You’ll be amazed at how this develops your skills, opens your heart and floods you with gratitude and energy!” she says.
Connie: Thank you, Jim, and welcome everyone. What are some of the reasons that we seek deeper connection with Source? There are many, but we do this
Now let’s talk about the five ways to increase inner awareness:
1. Devotional Singing:
2. Spiritual Study
Whether you read the Bible, the Gita, The Dammapada, A Course in Miracles, or The Torah, be sure to read the scriptures that you love and that strengthen you.
3. Selfless Service
This means volunteering your time, energy, talents, kindness and resources to the less fortunate. If you live alone or if you’re shy, you can start out simply, and can practice on:
Even thinking of God for eleven uninterrupted seconds, several times a day, can take you to God-consciousness. Silent sitting can include listening for Guidance, or talking with God. If you do meditate, remember the four constants of following the same time, place, Name and Form. Your prayer room will build up spiritual energy (Shakti) which will help to balance you each time you add your energies to the space. You will develop clarity and confusion will diminish as you come to see your problems and challenges from a higher perspective.
5. The Name of the Lord
As you chant, recite or repeat the Name of God of your choice, you will eventually notice that your are subtly changed in attaining a higher vibration, a finer intelligence and more stabilized inner peace. A mantra, which is a short, simple power-phrase to invoke your Higher Self, can be in your own language or in Sanskrit, Latin, or even a musical phrase. The mantra spontaneously came to my husband Jim many years ago was “Lord God, Jesus Christ,” set to music. This appealed to him since he plays in a concert band and loves to sing. As time went on, however, his phrase changed and he even chants it in his sleep.
There’s a saying that “First you do your mantra, then your mantra does you (undoes your ego’s grip), even in your sleep.” In other words, the power of the sacred word or phrase keeps on doing its job of purification, as it raises your frequency and outlook. Buddhits chant the well-known “Om Mane Padme Hum,” and Hindus repeat “Om Namah Shivayah.” Some Christians say the Jesus prayer of the Middle Ages, “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
Devotees of Lord Rama chant “Ram, Ram, Ram,” and Sai Baba devotees repeat “Om Sai Ram” and hundreds of other interfaith chants.
If you are inclined toward New Thought or even Advaita, you could say, “I AM the Presence of Love.” Some other simple mantras are:
Now that we’ve mentioned five ways to increase inner awareness, let’s briefly discuss the Three Paths. In all faiths and religions, they are the Path of Devotion, the Path of Selfless Service and the Path of Non-Duality, also known as the Path of Knowledge and Wisdom. Just as rivers eventually merge with other rivers into larger tributaries in their rush to the sea, all three paths will eventually join in one large tributary of loving compassion and awareness of oneself as an aspect of the One whole of which we are all a part.
Finally, there are a number of ways you can add interest, depth and “texture” to your devotional life. You might want to create a prayer or meditation area in your home that is devoted entirely to your spiritual practices. You can listen to programs by well-known spiritual speakers and can even organize a weekly or monthly meditation group.
If you are drawn to pictures or statues of deities, saints or spiritual figures, you can use them as a source of inspiration and as reminders to keep your connection to your Presence strong and bright. Remember, seeking and finding the Inner Beloved can be the most delicious and fulfilling process of your entire life. It is, in fact, what gives meaning and purpose to all relationships and to all of your goals, pursuits and activities. The inner journey to and with your Beloved is the finest adventure you’ll ever embrace.