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Resurrecting Jesus: Adyashanti on the True Meaning of ...

Until this spring, the last time I’d read the New Testament was a quarter-century ago, when I was in college studying comparative religion and literature.  Back then, I spent all my time reading the mystics—not just the Christian mystics, but Sufis and kabbalists too. Though I loved the desert fathers and Meister Eckhart and St. John of the Cross, I eventually read less and less of the Christian mystics.

I didn’t grow up in a church-going family, so I didn’t have a lot of baggage around my personal experience of Christianity.  Still, I had a problem with Jesus—or rather, all the things that the church had done in Jesus’ name.  I couldn’t separate my feelings about the centuries of crusades and witch hunts, about the church’s institutionalized drive for worldly power, about the repression and small-mindedness of the Christian right, from my feeling about Christianity’s ‘founder’.

Christian theology got in my way, too; as someone with a mystical bent, I couldn’t accept that my own relationship with the divine required an intermediary, and the whole doctrine of the Trinity seemed needlessly complicated.  Finally, on those few occasions when I did go to church, I found the Jesus portrayed in the pulpit to be simplistic, even insipid.

Yet, in spite of all these blocks to the predominant religion of my culture, I also sensed an immense transmission of love right at the core of Jesus’ teachings, prior to any of the trappings of doctrine and theology. I  sensed it, but I couldn’t access it.

Then, a few years ago, I stumbled upon one of Adyashanti’s Christmas satsangs, and a whole new view of Jesus opened up for me.  The Jesus he portrayed was a spiritual revolutionary, one whose life could be read as a map of the awakening journey.  This view of Jesus didn’t so much resolve my earlier issues with “church Jesus” as render them pointless.  After all, if there’s only one truth and it’s only found now, all historical perspectives are moot.

The more I listened, the deeper Adya’s message on Jesus resonated for me.  When it came time to brainstorm new projects with Adya, I suggested that we ask if he’d be willing to teach on Jesus.  As it turned out, he was already preparing for a weeklong retreat on that very topic, and was happy to take on these new projects. That was the genesis of Adya’s current online course—and upcoming book and audio program—Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic.

This spring, I traveled with Tami Simon and Hayden Peltier (one of our audio engineers) to record Adya at a studio in the mountains above Santa Cruz. I was excited to be part of the recording, but didn’t realize just what a profound impact listening to Adya talk about the Jesus story for four days would have on me.   As those who have attended satsangs or intensives with Adyashanti already know, his presence is a teaching, and his talks carry a powerful transmission.

At the end of the recording, I found myself energized and excited to work on editing the video, audio and book projects that we’d captured.  In the months since, I’ve read the gospels over and over—especially the Gospel of Mark, which is the primary text Adya refers to in Resurrecting Jesus.  I see clearly now how the Jesus story maps out the journey of awakening.  But for me, the most exciting aspect of the project has been discovering what a fantastic story Mark tells in his gospel.  The Jesus who comes through in Mark—now that I’ve heard Adya’s take on the gospel’s deeper meanings—is engaged, compelling, and totally unexpected.

I know how many people have grown disillusioned with the Christian tradition, even as they seek deeper spiritual insight through other practices and traditions.  My hope is that Resurrecting Jesus will invite others to reconnect—or connect for the first time—with the deep wisdom of the Jesus story.

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The True Nature of Mindfulness

Tami Simon speaks with Joseph Goldstein, who is the cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and has been teaching insight and lovingkindness meditation worldwide since 1974. He is the coauthor of the Sounds True audio learning course Insight Meditation (with Sharon Salzberg), and has recently released the third volume of his landmark audio course of advanced teachings and practical guidance on the Satipatthāna Sutta, Abiding in Mindfulness. In this episode, Tami speaks with Joseph about his study of the Satipatthāna Sutta as the Buddha’s central teaching of mindfulness meditation, the evolution of his own practice over the past four decades, and what it might mean to live without any sense of there being an “I” or a “me.” (60 minutes)

Tara Brach: True Refuge

Tami Simon speaks with Tara Brach, an author, clinical psychologist, and the founder and senior teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. She’s the author of the Sounds True audio learning programs Radical Self-Acceptance and Meditations for Emotional Healing. She’s also the creator of a new, nine-week online course called Meditation and Psychotherapy beginning February 18 at SoundsTrue.com, which includes three live sessions with Tara Brach where she will answer participants’ questions. (54 minutes)

James McCrae: Why We Need the Art of YOU

Where does creativity come from? How do we uncover our authenticity and deepest expression in a society that would have us cover it up to fit in? What is the connection between creativity and healing? Join Tami Simon in conversation with poet, artist, and author James McCrae as they discuss these questions, the role of the artist today, and his new book, The Art of You: The Essential Guidebook for Reclaiming Your Creativity.

A wonderful listen for creatives of every type and anyone who’s ever had the thought, “I’m not creative,” Tami and James talk about the courage to choose authenticity; the magnetic nature of vulnerability; creativity as a spiritual path; intuition as a portal to the invisible dimensions; emotion: the energy that fuels creativity; shadow work and the “creative purge”; the yin and yang of creativity; cultivating the soil; giving your ego the appropriate job; the metaphor of the sunflower; listening: the first stage of creativity; social media, art, and technology; viral ideas and the origination of the term meme; curiosity and the spirit of exploration; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Erica Djossa: Releasing the Mother Load

What have we done to our mothers? Sociologists call our times “the era of intensive mothering,” a period in which moms must be it all and do it all for their children and families. Psychotherapist and maternal mental health specialist Erica Djossa has made it her mission to teach today’s mothers how to take care of their well-being in a sustainable way. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Erica about her much-needed new book, Releasing the Mother Load, and the steps we can take to challenge the norms and change the culture around mothering. 

Enjoy this empowering discussion of: values-centered mothering; mothers as martyrs; the pressures facing a generation of “overinformed, overeducated, and overwhelmed” moms; equally sharing our household duties; the cost of cognitive or invisible labor; boundaries; using the “load map” to redistribute the work; “mom rage,” its roots, and the unique nature of anger in motherhood; identifying the “red light and green light” times for difficult conversations with partners (and sticking to them); overcoming perfectionism; self-compassion; re-parenting yourself while you’re parenting your children; the disempowering belief that I’m failing as a mom; effective self-care for moms (it’s not just bubble baths!); advice for making changes—start small; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Enriching Our Lives with African American Contemplativ...

My lifelong aspiration–and the goal of my new book, Joyfully Just: Black Wisdom and Buddhist Insights for Liberated Livingis to support people from all spiritual traditions and cultural backgrounds in using meditative practices to reclaim joy. Our spirits, bodies, minds, and hearts need to be buoyant to navigate the unceasing waves of grief, fear, doubt, prejudice, and devaluation that we experience internally, interpersonally, and communally. Joyfully Just is about tapping into that buoyancy, that levity, with diverse meditative practices.

In particular, Joyfully Just highlights practices, teachings, and insights from Buddhism and Black contemplative traditions. Black contemplative traditions include practices that bring forth insight and joy. You may have heard the expression “Black joy” and wondered, What is that, exactly? Black joy is self-transcendence. It is embodied resistance to shame, despair, and anything else that would limit our capacity to be just towards ourselves and those around us. It is the insistence on and expression of internal freedom despite external restrictions. Black joy is resilient creativity that creatively grows more resilience.

The Black wisdom traditions I explore in Joyfully Just include those shared through music such as Gospel, Blues, Rock, Jazz, R&B, and Hip-Hop; language and dialect practices; and dance and communicative kinesic (movement and gesture) practices. The musical genres developed by Black Americans are universally embraced because they help all people engage creatively with the joys and pains of life. As such, Black music is often a contemplative practice that can ground us in empowered well-being, even amidst our worst pain. As we sing our Blues, we invigorate our lives with joy. That joy creates spaciousness around our suffering so that we can develop insight into its meaning and value. Take a moment now and see if you can think of one song from any African American musical genre that deepens your insight, helps you navigate your suffering, or expands your joy. Write it down so that you remember that it is but one example of how listening to Black music is a contemplative practice that enriches your life.

Black contemplative practices are often misunderstood—especially when they are appropriated. Sometimes they are underestimated as simply entertainment or frivolity. In Joyfully Just, I offer practices to shed light on how much insight and guidance for wise, courageous living we can–and do–receive from Black cultural traditions.

I explore Buddhism and Black wisdom together because although the spiritual and religious traditions of Black people are diverse, as are Buddhist lineages, many secular Black wisdom traditions and overarching Buddhist principles share common insights. For example, Black musical traditions illustrate the unity of suffering and joy and the possibility for self-transcendence and enlightenment in any circumstance. The creative, lively resilience of Black life shows us, in so many ways, what enlightenment looks like in daily living.

Many African cultures, including African American culture, have rituals and practices that are uniquely contemplative and seamlessly integrated into everyday life. African dance is one example of this. African dancing is listening to the body, trusting the body to tell its story. African dance teacher Wyoma speaks of it as praying with the body.

How do you avoid cultural appropriation of Black contemplative practices? It’s simple, but not easy. When you engage with Black music, dialect, dance, or other cultural practices, reiteratively reflect on how you demonstrate or could begin to demonstrate love for and solidarity with Black people.

I invite you to ask yourself:

  • How is solidarity with and love for Black people already a part of my inner dialogue? Of my relationships? Of how I experience the world with joy?
  • How can I strengthen my connections with Black people and Black wisdom practices?

With these as lifelong inquiries, we gain insight into how Black contemplative practices enrich our lives, actualize our interdependence, and deepen our sense of connection with ourselves and the world.

Kamilah Majied

Dr. Kamilah Majied is a mental health therapist, clinical educator, researcher, and consultant on advancing equity and inclusion using meditative practices. Drawing from her decades of contemplative practice and leadership, Dr. Majied engages people in experiencing wonder, humor, and insight through transforming oppressive patterns and deepening relationships toward ever-improving individual, familial, organizational, and communal wellness. To find out more visit kamilahmajied.com.

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