"It's not a spectator sport!"

I'm kind of a strange person for the 21st century because I have no guru fear. I think a lot of it is because I have absolute faith in my ability to tell if something is true or not (see the Common Sense Forums). But one way or another, it has enabled me to study under numerous living teachers in our time and receive the benefit of their perspectives.

One lovely teacher I'm working with now is named Elle, from Hood River Oregon. She has a beautiful teaching called the Nine Steps to God. The first step is Forgiveness.

As human beings we are made perfectly, wonderfully whole - but we have this weird thing called a brain and a mind. It often feels like a foreign creature living in our heads, and it can talk!

This mind/brain can reason (particularly the frontal lobe, left hemisphere and resulting language capacities) and come up with all sorts of beautiful things, and it can also lead us totally astray into believing things that aren't true, seeing things wrong, and making weird and crazy assumptions about life itself. The spiritual journey is one of making sense of our own experience  - and dealing with our own brain is a big part of that job.

The brain is always going to have the ability to lead us astray. It's a fact of life as a human being. And so, if we learn to practice forgiveness in an ever-developing field of awareness, then we are on the right path. Two main points about forgiveness is that it is a never-ending practice (because we will always retain the ability to go nuts over something), and that every turn of the spiral of inspiration and revelation will always lead back to forgiveness as another starting point. (Actually, every turn into darkness also leads back to this same starting point.)

I also work with Andrew Cohen, and his starting point is wanting to be free more than anything else. Like forgiveness this is something that can be done consciousnly and intentionally (you don't have to wait for some experience to make it possible) and it is always the beginning point of any spirial of development and insight. Do we want to be free of our obsession with our own thoughts and feelings? That question will arise over and over as we experience life. Spiritual development then, is the case of arriving at a "Yes!" for freedom and forgiveness, quicker and quicker, until our passion for liberation replaces the fears and desires of the ego.

We are going to work with both of these ideas today with Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison. This is an ancient Greek chant from the Christian Tradition that means, "Lord have Mercy. Christ have mercy."

This beautiful chant has inspired melodies and harmonies from Christian devotes for centuries. With this sentiment we are acknowledging our never-ending ability to go mentally crazy (which is almost always immediately followed by going emotionally insane.) We are laying this out as a fact of life and putting it in front of the universe, not as a failure in creation, but as a reality of our existence. Implied here is both forgiveness (Lord have mercy!) and our ability to access our already-present liberation (Christ have mercy!)

The melody is a haunting Gregorian chant that takes us quickly into our own nature. The movements are simply walking to the right, counterclockwise in our circle, as if in a procession.

We start the first time through the melody with our hands cupped below the navel. Think of this as holding our own crystal ball of potential. In this are all our resources: our money, our friends and family, our skills-knowledge and education, everything we've learned, every bit of potential: actualized and unactualized.

The second time through the melody we spread our hands out towards the earth as we walk forward. This is both giving our potential out, and accepting and bringing in the support and guidance of the physical world--from which we are never separate. We are, always and inseparately, a creation of the star dust and molecules of the initial big bang.

On the third time through the melody we start to spin slowly to the right, raising hands with palms outward as this vast potential that is us, blended with everything else, starts to spin out from us. Like sprinkles of glittering stardust. Or maybe it is like the theory that a butterfly flapping it's wings in China can cause a tornado in Kansas. This is our all and everything, in movement with time, meeting and touching the world around us - including (most especially including!) the people dancing next to us. Their sparkes and butterflies are flying through us and around the world.

By the end of your slow spin your hands are up to shoulder level, and you are facing into the center of the circle. Now place hands on the shoulders of the people to each side of you, as we sidestep to the right, one fully formed entitiy of all of our potential, all of our intentions and actions. This potential itself is a field of consciousness between us. The one has become the many in an evolving reality.

And then we are back to the beginning of the spiral. Now, with a greater awareness of our potential and of the potential we create together. We turn back to procession to the right, cupping our hands below the navel. Each time we return here with a brighter and more conscious awareness of how we blend and meet and interconnect with the reality of the earth, the reality of each other, and our place in the universe.

Each time, as we return to the starting point, we remember to choose freedom and forgiveness because of our experience and the understanding gained. Each time we see how important it is that we not be spewing out the negativity that is the habit of the unexamined mind; we ask for mercy and compassion. Our integrity lifts our heads and hearts. And we gain the success, not only of our own participation, but of that of the whole circle.

Kyrie Eleison! Christe Eleison!