I started a new book, the pick for my spirituality book club. We don’t have a name for ourselves. It is just this…spirituality book club for the kind of books we choose to read and share.
It is a good fit for me because I have had the practice of reading books that are of religious or spiritual nature for years. Being able to share what I am learning with others has been a rich experience. I love having in my life people who have spiritual leanings.
That brings me to the book we are now reading which I began two days ago, River of Compassion: A Christian Colmmentary on the Bhagavad Gita, by Bede Griffiths. The Bhaghavad Gita is the most important religious text for Hindus. Of the many religions of the world I know least about the Hindus. Mahatma Gandhi, one of my heroes, was a Hindu. Griffiths stated right up front that his intention is to show how the Bhagavad Gita can be used for Christians to enrich their own faith. It has been my experience thus far that any religion’s texts can be used for Christian growth if one approaches them with the right attitude. There is a commonality among various faiths that, in my mind, speaks to the idea that there is an ultimate truth. Those who are sincere seekers of the truth will naturally move toward it and religious beliefs that seemed at odds will begin to reveal a commonality in ways that may not seem possible on the surface of things. It is an exciting way to live, to experience this oneness with others.
I want to share one thing I read this morning that got me pretty excited. According to the Bhaghavad Gita (Griffiths calls it Gita, for short), the human being is body, soul and spirit, which I already believe. This is what he wrote that I want to share this morning that caused a sweet shift in me: “The soul stands between the body and the spirit and in our normal situation the soul, the jivatman, inclines towards the body, towards matter and the senses, towards the world of change, becoming and impermanence, and it becomes immersed in that and loses its way. Repentence (metanoia in Greek), is when the soul changes its mind, changes its attitude, turns back and discovers the Spirit within. Then, instead of being subject to the passions and the instincts, the soul is subject to the Spirit, to the power within, and gains control over the world of the senses and passions (body).”
I LOVE this visual. My soul-self leaning toward the Spirit. It is so unlike the perfectionist,black and white idea of either being in the Spirit or in the state of sin, being right or being wrong. Once I awaken to the very existence of the Spirit, I can choose to lean in that direction…for me, toward God. This is what my morning reading, prayer, and spiritual practice is all about. It is simply leaning toward. It is intentional to do the leaning, but the changes in me are really just the effect of the Spirit as I lean in that direction. My attachment to the physical gradually lessens. But, until death, I will always be in this middle place. I just have to keep leaning until the body itself falls away.