Yesterday I taught my first Naropa class of the semester - Contemplative Christianity, with ten students. The class meets in a Buddhist meditation hall with Vajrayana banners and photos of Tibetan teachers hanging on the wall. I love it because I'm able to place my icons - which yesterday consisted of one of Christ, one of Mary Magdalene, and a Georgia O'Keeffe painting of a nighttime Ponderosa Pine - on a Buddhist altar. For me, that's a symbol of the path of Interspirituality if there ever was one!
What always impresses me is how many students have negative experiences of Christianity in their history. They've felt judgement, oppression, heavy-handededness and bigotry from a religion that was originally founded on love. As one student said, some churches have even jettisoned the term "Christian" altogether, and instead speak simply of being "Jesus Followers."
As I see it, one of my tasks in teaching the class is to offer the students a Mystical Christianity that focuses on Christ as a radiant warmth which unites all things in love, the Sophianic or feminine dimension of insight (the "aha! experience felt in the body), nondual union as a realm experienced BETWEEN I and Thou (or rather between thou and Thou), an attitude of listening for God's presence as it hides within the core of ALL beings, the divinity of matter, and the tradition's present-day "greening," a trend that is occurring in all of the major world religions. Accordingly, when I teach contemplative prayer, I use canyon or old-growth forest imagery, and when I share the practice of Christian Insight Meditation, I use sky and echo symbols.
We'll see how it goes!
Photos: Horsetooth Reservoir, Bellvue Dome and Bierstadt Lake, Larimer County, CO, January, 2016
Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.