Thursday, May 01, 2008
I do not have any religious training and have not attended "churches". I have however maintained my own connection to nature and with what I call my spirituality which encompasses all of me and my work and my world. This course was my first exposure to some of this material and I really enjoyed it. I had heard many of the terms and concepts but appreciated the broader perspective and simply written language.
I gained a much broader perspective from this course on Eastern and Western religious thought. I was able to connect the truths contained in each tradition or religion and to use that in working with my clients and to continue my own learning and understanding. I can reach out to others with more confidence. The clients I work with are multicultural/religious/non-religious. I am a person who works to assist people in reclaiming their personal power and to reach for others by listening deeply.
I learned definitions and concepts in an organized way and liked the way the course was outlined and progressed. I liked the exploration of less dominant belief systems and the history of the cultures and how religion was formed. I liked the charts, photos and historical information. The graphs and illustrations added to my understanding.
I appreciated the comparing and contrasting through text, picture and stories. I remember the comparing of the Flood Stories in all the different religions. And really liked the honoring of the goddess tradition. This is perhaps the area that I have studied the most.
Some of the terminology and intellectual definitions and discussions on technical issues, although I found them necessary, I did not find that as interesting like - Esoteric vs Exoteric. I did, however, like the discussions on the Esoteric Traditions more.
I learned about differences between prayer, meditation and contemplation - which many people interchange. I liked reading information that I had only briefly read about like the word 'Amen'. I appreciated how chants and mantra's are natural and have been used to transcend religious traditions all over the world. I liked that I could click on a link and hear music. I did not know that viewing a written copy of a mantra is said to have the same effect.
I attended a chant workshop that Rabbi Shefa Gold held here in Houston. I liked the sample meditation which allows for anyone to meditate. I have not typically liked to meditate and studying the material I began to sit sometimes. I can clear my mind very quickly and think that I meditate already but not like most people.
I liked how the course bounced back and forth between modern and ancient texts, photo's, graphics. And made comparisons, like the link to the end times perspectives. I liked that each discourse compared and contrasted and gave supporting information and history.
I liked the resources and activities and found that not only did I have many of them but I was able to enlarge my library and even read a few like the Egyptian Book of the Dead which I did not have. I was able to go back and review many of the books that I already have read like Joel Goldsmith's work The Art of Mediation, one of my first books over 20 years ago and Thomas Merton's Contemplative Prayer and my very first book When God was a Woman by Merlin Stone. I liked following many of the links to broaden my perspective.
I especially liked the Jewish perspective and resources. I have been studying Jewish Renewal and appreciate leaders like Rabbi's Shefa Gold, David Cooper, Arthur Waskow, Starhawk and Sylvia Boorstein among others. Jewish Mysticism is most interesting to me as a spiritual practice and rounds out my Wiccan and Women's Spirituality studies. The discourse on Shamanic traditions clarified the existence in almost all cultures of nature spirits and angels.
I liked the whole course, found it very interesting and often wanted the course to come more often than weekly. I looked forward to Sunday's. It seemed to be well researched and I learned what the course intended - to broaden my understanding and to reach for people who might come from a different religious tradition. It has helped to be knowledgeable when listening to a person and understanding from a deeper perspective what they are speaking about. In clarifying for myself or them that I understand it assists in connecting.
Thank you for providing such a comprehensive course, well written, illustrated, documented and comprehensive. I would be interested in other courses.
Rev. Linda Bedre