exploring-contemplative-paths

When: March 18-19, 2016 Friday 7:00pm – 9:00pm; Saturday 9:30am – 2:00pm
Where: Rogers/Bentonville, AR – To be announced
Suggested Donation: $50 (donate according to the value you receive)
Call 913-829-8810 to register (open to the interested public. Having attended BT is not a prerequisite)

Faciliator: Dr. Paul Fitzgerald

What’s the Point of Learning Contemplative Paths?
BT is about discovering that you are not the “false-self” built on self-limiting tapes, injustices/victimizations or your “successes” and that there is a “true-self” within that desires deep and meaningful connections with others and spiritual wisdom.

The path to living out of our “true-self” is through living in the NOW – the present. We can not and are not in “Be” in our past or future – we can remember and anticipate but we are not there. Likely 80-90% of out thinking time is rehearsing the past or imagining the future and only a small percent is awareness of being here and now. Remembering, imagining and planning are not bad or wrong yet tapping into “wisdom” is a here and now process.

You can only experience God here and NOW. You can recall and anticipate spiritual experiences as times of finding wisdom but you are not there now. Most who are familiar with the Bible have heard or read Paul’s statements about being “in Christ” and “in God we move and have our being.” Jesus’ strange statement that “The Kingdom of God is within you” and his prayer “I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one.” It is our “false-self” that distorts our awareness of the immediate Presence of God into imagining God as separated and “out there.” Contemplative practices can help us increase our awareness of being in the Presence in the Present.

So, how do we begin to step out of the chatter of our ego, become more in touch with our “true-self?” What practices help us step out of the “monkey-mind” that seems to jump around all over the place? That’s the point of Exploring Contemplative Paths.

What is Contemplative Prayer?
Many of us have only experienced prayer using words to express our thoughts, concerns, and feelings to God. Certainly, prayers of thanksgiving and requests are important spiritual practices. However, at times it can begin to feel like we are “making long distance calls to God” at “when we have time” or in emergencies without really deepening our intimate awareness of our union with Father, Son and Spirit.

There is a long Christian tradition using contemplative prayer where the focus in on deepening our relationship with the living Christ as well as the awareness of our immersion within the life of the Trinity. It is not about acquiring skills to qualifying for some advanced spiritual state but learning ancient prayer practices that increase our awareness of God who is closer to us than our next breath.

Contemplative prayer is not a replacement for other kinds of prayer; it will bring new depth of meaning for them. It is a form of prayer that shifts us from periodic conversations toward an intimate communion with the living Christ.

What is Contemplatively Encountering Scripture?
Most of us quite naturally learned to read Scripture like a “text to master.” We typically use the same learning skills (analyzing, comparing, contrasting, memorizing, outlining. etc.) that we use for most everything we want to master. However the spiritual formation goal of encountering Scripture is transformative as well as learning information. We often get the impression that more knowledge brings greater transformation but knowing more does not necessarily translate into increased wisdom.

There is an ancient contemplative approach to reading and meditating on Scripture called Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading) where the emphasis shifts from “mastering Scripture” to encountering Scripture in a way that it “shapes and masters us.”

Goals for Participants:
Participants will learn about and have experience practicing contemplatively reading Scripture and contemplative prayer – a way to begin to sit in silence with God, opening your heart and mind to increase your awareness of the prayer that is ongoing between God and your soul all the time. In this prayer form, the goal is quieting our heart and mind and begin to overhear our ongoing conversation with God.