Friday, November 23, 2012

School for Living starts December 6th

gathered around the world
The School for Living starts December 6th so I want to prime the pump a bit by distinguishing the School for Living from the School for Contemplative Practices which begins January 26th.

Contemplation is a process of becoming more aware of own interior with the goal of a deeper connection with the Divine. We sometimes refer to these contemplative practices as esoteric, meaning that they take us within. Many assume that esoteric practices are the most effective if not the only way to encounter the Divine.

The School for Living disputes this notion and observes that we find evidence of the Creator in the midst of our lives in the everyday world of consensual reality. We can harness the insights that come from living in a consensual world to deepen our relationship to God. For this reason we speak of the School for Contemplative Practices as one that teaches esoteric disciplines, and the School for Living as one that teaches exoteric disciplines.

Exoteric practices are sometimes in the form of rules for how we relate to the physical world, as for what we eat [no meat on Friday, keeping kosher] and how we dress [shaving heads, covering heads, removing shoes]. The focus of the School for Living is on the relational world. It attends to how we behave with and toward each other.

By way of example: we have been told that we should forgive each other as God forgives us. We sometimes think that means to “forgive and forget.” Actually, the admonition is to “forgive and remember not,” but even so, just what does that mean? So one of the meetings scheduled for this spring is on the twin disciplines of apology and forgiveness.

To start we are going to take a long view of the nature of significant relationships and what we do to strengthen them and heal them [December 6]. Then we will consider whether we are finished with our own development or whether there might be more for us, what that more looks like, and how we might bring a fuller experience of living into our awareness [December 20].

I hope you can join us. Please sign up by following the link on the calendar tab at or by going to and signing in there.

Monday, November 12, 2012

School for Living: Winter-Spring 2013

The School for Living starts up in a couple of weeks. Click on the Calendar tab for a complete schedule.  There is no fee for the school but a donation is requested to honor the teaching.

The larger vision of this program is to provide support for addressing the problems of living that naturally arise in everyone's life.  The premise is simple.  The application can be difficult.  That is why we come together to support each other.

The "Simple" Premise

The first most important task for any organism is to care for itself.  This is true for humans as well.  But there is a difference between being self-centered and being centered in our Selves.  When we take good care of ourselves we are able to care for others.  But our first responsibility is to create what we need.  When we do so, we also create what others need.

Some of our needs are things we can create all by ourselves.  We can feed and dress ourselves and we can learn to look both ways before we cross the street.  But some needs can only be met in the context of our relationships. To meet these needs requires that we develop intimate relationships with others.

Others don't always do what we want.  We don't always do what they want.  We have conflicts.  When we name, address, and resolve the conflicts, we strengthen the relationship and create a stronger context in which to create what we need.

Resolving conflicts may seem to be impossible because we can't make them do what we want and we aren't willing to abandon our own integrity to do what they want us to do.  Fortunately, resolution doesn't mean doing what the other wants.  It means doing what creates what we need in the context of the relationship.  This always means changing ourselves.  Addressing conflict is a vehicle for our own transformation.

The School for Living is a classroom for using the persistent pattern of conflicts that inevitably arise in any significant relationship as an opportunity for our own transformation into persons who can create what we need without either the demand or the expectation that others change.

School for Contemplative Practices: Winter Spring 2013

Tentative Schedule of Events for Winter-Spring 2013

January 26: Contemplation and Meditation – Presenter: Jon Yaffe
Jon Yaffe has practiced Insight Meditation since 1999 and been a Dharma teacher with the St. Louis Insight Meditation Group (SLIMG - since 2006. A student of Matthew Flickstein (who produced the "With One Voice" documentary we watched recently), he has completed two of his intensive programs: Teaching as a Form of Practice and The Two Year Training. In addition to his teaching with SLIMG Jon has been on the Board of Directors of Mid America Dharma (MAD - since 2005, currently serving as President.
He leads meditation groups regularly for SLIMG, recently taught a 10 week committed practice class on "Right Speech" and leads retreats for both SLIMG and MAD on an annual basis. He is especially interested in the ability of meditation and Dharma practice to alleviate intense emotional distress. He has created and is refining a program at the Jefferson Barracks VA Hospital to bring these skills to veterans recovering from PTSD.
Basic cost is $15 with a request at the event to donate for the teaching.
To sign up, click here.
Future Events
February 23: Chant
March 9: Lectio Divina (reading scripture with heart and imagination)
April 6: Embodied Spirituality (Qi Gong, yoga, labyrinth walking)
May 4: Contemplative Prayer (Centering Prayer)
June 8: Intentional Intimacy

All events are on Saturdays and begin at 10:00 and include a light lunch in the dining hall at noon.