Opening a Path to the Personal Experience of God in Christianity

Image via Amy Alexander

Traditionally, and very generally speaking, one of the major differences between Asian and Western religions is that Asian religions emphasized inner development as the way to spiritual growth and the Western religions emphasized the need for social action such as giving to and standing on the side of the poor. That is not to say the opposite wasn’t true; but in the West you usually would have to go to a monastery or nunnery to get real guidance on the interior path and in the East there were socially minded activists but they tended to be revolutionaries rather than religious leaders.

The lack of an interior path to spirituality that was readily available to the average person and didn’t include going into a highly structured monastic environment, was one reason why many Westerners stopped going to church and were drawn to the New Age Movement which is open to a variety of spiritual paths emphasizing personal inner development through the Asian methods of meditation, yoga and healthy eating practices. It is ironic that one of the persons who helped sparked the New Age Movement was Edgar Cayce who emphasized that each person had to find his own way. A devout Christian himself, he said that Christ was the model for all human kind and that each soul in its own way was seeking this ideal. But he also said that all religions would lead people to this end and that certain practices would greatly facilitate the process. Among these practices he advocated were the importance of:

  1. Being in a small spiritual reflection group where all were equals and that each person could support each other in an environment of respect. In such a group people could help each other to find their own unique paths. A religious leader would not be there to impose a doctrine or a set way, as is usually the case in Bible classes. Individuals would arrive at their own conclusions from materials read and discussed.
  2. Consistent and on-going dreamwork and intuitive meditation to understand the nature of one’s soul and its expression.
  3. Exercise and healthy food in the right combinations and portions as the best medicine.

I personally think that mainline Christian religions would be wise to incorporate these practices into their religious education classes, appropriately modified for the age group of the persons involved. What is sorely needed is an approach that entails the development of an interior spiritual life that anybody can do. These methods work; and they bring a personal experience of God at the profoundest levels. Unfortunately, and as a result of how religious instruction is done emphasizing textual knowledge and an intellectual understanding of the bible, many Christians have to face a personal crisis that knocks them off their horse before they have this kind of personal experience of the divine.

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Working With Dream Themes: Wounded Animals

Reminder to Protect Animals
Image via Petfinder

Dreams of wounded animals are often hard to bear, and perhaps this is good because these kinds of dreams should capture our attention and elicit a response – just as when we see a wounded animal in the street or in the woods. Like all dreams, wounded animal dreams can have different levels of meaning and should be handled accordingly. Here are some suggested questions to ask, if you such a dream.

  1. Is it my animal that I am dreaming about? If the wounded animal is one I own or am responsible for in waking life, I need to ask what am I doing that may cause this animal to be wounded as in the dream. For example, if I dream my dog is lying by the road with a broken leg, I need to ask if I am giving it too much freedom to roam freely on the streets or be endangered by on-coming vehicles. Such a dream may be a warning me that this could happen to my dog if I don’t take better care of it.
  2. If the animal is not one for which I am responsible for in waking life, I need to ask what part of me does this animal represent—going on the dreamwork premise that everything in a dream represents part of me. If it is a bird, I would ask what part of me is like a bird. Let’s say the bird represents my sense of freedom because when I see birds I think of having freedom to fly and soar.
    Then I then need to look at the injury itself and ask how I am or could be wounded like this animal. Am I doing anything that could contribute to such an injury now or in the future? For example, let’s say I dreamed that a bird has a broken wing and is lying on the ground. It has flown into a glass door. I could associate this injury with my sense of freedom being wounded when my progress in a creative endeavor was stopped by some kind of obstacle I couldn’t see. Perhaps this dream is telling me to go slowly, be more cautious or is warning me I could hit an obstacle. It may be referring to this as already happening and is asking me to take care of the wounded part of myself.
  3. Lastly, the dream could be referring to both an animal I own and a part of me. This happened to me when I dreamed of my cat lying on the ground with a leg injury. Sure enough, not too long after having this dream, my cat suffered a leg injury which required surgery. In my own life, soon after the dream, I experienced several setbacks related to trusting my own natural cat-like instincts which greatly impacted my sense of being able to “get around” with my usual ease and grace, forcing me to seek help from others and do more meditation to get back on track. Therefore, the suggestions I give here are based on hindsight wisdom I wish I had practiced better when I had the dream of my injured cat. My dream was clearly warning and trying to help me.

To learn more about dreams, visit my website: http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.