My goal for this presentation was first to summarise Jesus’ teachings about the Religions of the Mind and Spirit and then explore religious and spiritual beliefs and practices in the world today – necessarily from my own perspective. While I was preparing the presentation, I had two very meaningful interactions that strongly influenced my thinking about this topic.
I was discussing spirituality with some friends and one of them, Julie, shared how she used to be a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation, and recalled lining up to meet the Maharishi Yogi when he visited Auckland. She vividly remembered the jolt of spiritual energy she experienced when she touched his feet. Many years later, with very little religious life, she was attending a Catholic funeral, and was minding the grandchild of one of her friends. The child was taken up to the altar during the Mass and at the exact same moment that the priest put his hand on the child’s head to bless her, Julie felt exactly the same jolt of spiritual energy, which seemed to come out of nowhere.
The second experience I had was at the place I work, which is a state funded tertiary institute. It is our practice in New Zealand to welcome new students in our Maori meeting house, with a traditional welcome ceremony, which is conducted almost entirely in the Maori language. At the end of this ceremony, the Maori in charge explained to the students, who were all from other countries and studying English with us, that although the students had not understood anything that had been said, that didn’t matter, because they weren’t talking to them, they were talking to the spirits of their ancestors and inviting them to feel at home in the meeting house and the institute. Many students commented afterwards on how much comfort this gave them.
These were two examples of spiritual experiences/beliefs, quite distinct from religious beliefs, which strongly influenced the focus of my presentation. It is very much an unfolding journey which each of us must walk individually.
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