Woods Walking — Welcome

Welcome to Woods Walking, where we explore the mysteries of Humanity, Spirit and God. Through this blog, I share my personal journey in spirituality and the immediate, human experience of our personal sentient self within our natural world.  It is an experience, a journey, that ultimately connects us through quiet listening to the Greater Glory of Being.

We will follow the path of my recent awakening to the meaning of spiritual experiences that I had earlier in my life.  I will describe the intimate process of understanding the personal meaning behind these significant spiritual experiences; one at a very young age1, and another while in college2.

This is also an exploration of our shared human spiritual capacity in relation to what has traditionally been known as the Supreme Being3 through simple prayer, contemplation, mystical encounter, and even near-death experiences.  We will look at the common roots of such encounters, regardless of one’s religious or spiritual tradition.

The Word of God is simple, and seeks out as its companion a heart that listens. … Neither the clergy nor ecclesiastical law can substitute for the inner life of the human person.  — Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini

Posting under the blog title “Woods Walking,” I will start with the everyday immediate experience of nature and beauty and look behind the curtains of deepening levels of understanding to arrive at accessible, useful and real meaning.

And in the face of today’s expansive cosmology, astrophysics and particle physics, we will explore the intersection of science and spirituality.  As human understanding reaches beyond the limits of our known universe, we’ll expand our vision within this emerging, new Copernican moment in history and open ourselves to a newly perceived relationship with the Supreme Being and how humanity’s relationship to God may be seen in a new light.

It is a vision where a radically connected empirical reality encounters similar concepts of fundamental unity as expressed by human traditions  for thousands of years in theology, mysticism and metaphysics.

With my personal background as a Roman Catholic, I will refer to the Supreme Being as God.  As a Catholic, I embrace other historical spiritual traditions, since, as a human family, we share a common innate spiritual capacity and our literal, traceable roots in nature–in Being.

The “mission” of this blog is not one of conversion.  Rather it is one of ecumenism, an ecumenism inspired by deep spiritual encounter and the profound unity found there in the roots of our very being.  It is a oneness based on our shared source in nature, in the substance of being, as well as the latent spiritual capacity in all men and women that is so easily overlooked in our daily lives.

In that way, Woods Walking is a call back to our inner selves and our true, natural capacity for quiet spiritual encounter.  Spirituality has been overlooked as so many have revolted against the surface trappings of dogma, injustice or the inflexible nature of existing religious institutions.  Meanwhile, many institutions have hidden the empowering aspects of spirituality in the deep recesses of monasticism–deliberate or not.  This separation from our inner selves creates a shepard/sheep duality that serves the institution and veils the individual from their own true capacity for encounter, an encounter that leads to an authentic individual life within community.

It is important to note that this blog should not become a wedge between one’s own faith traditions and an awakened presence to spirit.  Rather, it should enrich any one tradition, much as the earliest spiritual encounters of humanity inspired establishment of religions.  Just as important, the diversity of religious expression should not serve to invalidate any one tradition.  Diversity of religious expression is reflected in nature itself through the awe-inspiring differentiation among genus and species.

“I love you my brother whoever you are whether you worship in your Church, kneel in your Temple, or pray in your Mosque. You and I are all children of one faith, for the diverse paths of religion are fingers of the loving hand of one Supreme Being, a hand extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, eager to receive all.”
~Kahlil Gibran

Meanwhile, it is far too easy to allow the “noise” of our five physical senses to drown out our personal, quiet spiritual sense, whether seen as a receptive intuition or even as a communicative capacity for a transcendent encounter.  The busy-ness of work, the noise of media and and the absorption of family and social activity offer easy distraction from the quiet of the inner self.

Woods Walking listens for that spiritual breeze through the synapses of our mind and our soul.  This blog starts at the personal roots of such experience, that seed of deeper personal awareness.

How might your seed grow?

I have titled each entry “Woods Walking,” as they are inspired, in part, by the immediate observations of nature encountered during my nightly walks, originally with my now-deceased Irish Setter, “Trevor.”  In these entries I explore the synthesis of the immediate, sentient and real that is present before us and directly accessible–via empirical, even scientific analysis, with the experiential tradition of spiritual encounter and revelation, i.e., faith and religion.  I explore the encountered unity between these often dialectically opposed camps.  From time-to-time, I will use philosophical tools of exposition that have evolved over the centuries.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

~ Henry David Thoreau

On the Path

I dedicate this blog to my parents who served as a constant example of faith through their living, intimate awareness of a real spiritual presence. Based on their faith-life example, I was called at an early age — while fidgeting during Sunday mass at about 7 or 8 years old — to follow their path. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned–experienced–in a very personal, intuitive way that there is an intimate, Spiritual Presence that is myself in relationship with Someone that is loving and available when sought out.

I have made myself open to our sixth spiritual sense that, at times, has made itself present to me, sometimes quietly, and sometimes in an overwhelming rush of sensibility–at times in waking moments and at others while asleep.  I have also found that spirituality is not necessarily an immediately present sense like those of touch or taste, but rather it is something that develops, much like one’s sexual self — a latent force that gradually develops in proportion to the amount of attention one permits.

Personal spirituality is also a discipline, much like playing music or mastering a new language or playing a sport.  Like these other disciplines, one can be graced with a natural disposition for such a sense.  I know by my own experience that I am blessed to be among those with such an innate disposition.

Again, welcome, and I look forward to sharing our mutual experiences of spirit, faith and humanity in relation to God and our real, intimate communication. God Bless! Rudy

Five Mile Beach

Copyright © 2010 Rudolph Siegel

1 Woods Walking #10: The First Encounter http://wp.me/p11gpL-1l
2 Woods Walking #9: Three Nights of Affirmation http://wp.me/p11gpL-15
3 Brother David Steindl-Rast on our relationship to God: http://youtu.be/5H3ZuwUR5Aw?t=5m58s

A footnote on January 8, 2013:  Recently I came across references to Fr. Thomas Keating, a leader in the Centering Prayer movement and founder of the ecumenically important Snowmass Inter-Religious Conferences.  Below is a link to a video featuring Fr. Keating discussing “Oneness” and addressing a broad range of ways in which we encounter God in our lives and through contemplation.  I have found this video very affirming of my own experiences recounted here in “Woods Walking.”  Keating’s insights, combined with his personal humor, humility and accessibility, are marvelous.  He is inspired.  He “is the Other”!



About rudyink

Answering the call.
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64 Responses to Woods Walking — Welcome

  1. Anne says:

    This is Wonderful ! I need to look deeper into myself and grow into a deeper relationship with the Supreme Being. It will be a journey worth exploring…

  2. rudyink says:

    Photos from Astronaut Doug Wheelock taken from the International Space Station as it orbits our great, good Earth. His captions, and the beauty of his photos, point to the ecuminism that awaits humanity. It is humanity that draws the borders and draws the swords…


  3. rudyink says:

    Realizing our place in the living, vibrant, eternal Body of Humanity:


  4. Catherine says:

    Looking forward to exploring your website.

    Thank you.

  5. rudyink says:

    We are most complete when the realization of science meets the revelation of Spirit.

  6. rudyink says:

    Trevor Molloy, my Irish Setter and constant companion on my hikes recounted in these blog posts, ran west in late June. He was a great dog and “best friend” for 14 years.

    I think Trevor approves of this video as he bounds through heavenly pastures.

  7. 5daysago says:

    I love your blog, I am going to pass it along to those I know will enjoy it. Thank you Rudy.

    • rudyink says:

      Thanks Michelle! I’m eagerly awaiting the delivery of the new book “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife,” by Dr. Eben Alexander III. Along with my own experiences recounted in Woods Walking #9 and #10, his book serves as testament to the fact that there is more to us than just our physical, temporal selves. And as I discuss in WW#11, 12 and 15, science today has important implications for the ecumenical nature of our personal experience of the Spirit. Here’s a link to Dr. Alexander’s website: http://www.lifebeyonddeath.net/home
      Pax, Rudy

      PS I enjoy your writing; it rings so true to who you are — I can hear your voice as I read it — Wonderful!

  8. Abbie says:

    I am blown away with your blog. Michelle turned me onto this and will keep reading. So inspirational and what a positive and embracing journey!!

    • rudyink says:

      Abbie, I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of your words. Sharing all of this is somewhat “risky” from a “man-on-the-street” percpective. But, it is who I am most deeply, and in our common humanity, it is who we all are. So, I’ve proceeded to share my own experiences, my own logic, but also my own personal revelations. As I’ve said in the Welcome, we are most fully real when realization — our personal understanding — meets revelation — that infusion of Spirit that IS outside of our personal, and collective, human perspectives. But at the irreducible core of experience and contemplation — of “Being,” one finds Love. Read my “Three Nights of Affirmation” in Woods Walking #9. From that time I came to experience Unconditional Love. This writing helps me reconcile and express this greater aspect of “self.” And from that sense of unconditional love, all of this is a true joy to share. You will see that joy expressed in WW#4 and WW#7. Finally, there is another birth ahead of us all. Those who have gone before us are already there, which for me is a great source of peace. And as you read, feel free to comment or ask questions. This blog is about undersanding, communication and communion in Spirit. Pax, Rudy

  9. kathleen wilson says:

    I am a friend of Michelle Dieters. She just sent me a link to your blog. I do love what you are talking about here. You express yourself beautifully. Do you like Ken Wilbers work? Or Fr. Richard Rohr? I heard Fr Rohrs talk called Christ, Cosmology, and Consciousness about 6 months ago and was amazed at the notion of the ever expanding universe/consciousness. Also, it is so true that when you read Michelles writing you can hear her speaking – what a gift! Will look forward to reading everything and conversing with you.

    • rudyink says:

      Hi Kathleen – Welcome! I have not read Wilbers or Rohr — yet! I just got Eben Alexander’s book, mentioned above, today. I’ll admit that this blog is a process of reconciling — embracing really — personal experiences and putting them in written form. So there’s an “organic” nature to what I’m expressing and recounting. It is informed by my training in philosophy as well as my regular attendance, for 38 years, at the Jesuit parish, Bellarmine Chapel here on the campus of Xavier University. Also core to my experience is what the late Fr. Robert Schmidt, S.J. taught as his own philosophical “systematic,” what he called Immediate, Reflective, Analytical Realism. The “immediacy” of this blog starts with the walks in the woods, which is merely the setting of this story. I then follow traditional — and some learned — contemplative practices, paying attention to the intuitive summation of my senses (third eye, sixth sense…), my reflections and, most importantly, the infusion of Spirit and the innate, intentional commuication found there in that “quiet listening.” Thanks for you comments; I look froward to more interaction! Pax, Rudy

    • rudyink says:

      Kathleen, I just read a synopsis of Ken Wilber’s body of work. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, “God, Zen and the Intuition of Being.” Here’s the complete book online: http://www.innerexplorations.com/catew/3.htm Wilbur’s “Theory of Everything” takes me to the metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. One of the core tools from Aqunas is the Analogy of Being. While all things that “are” share the fact of exitence, it is through analogy that we discover how they share this “act of being.” See WW#2 for a metaphysical exercise: https://excelsisdeoomnibus.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/woods-walking-2/

      Meanwhile, cosmology and the Big Bang take us to what I call the ultimate form of ecumenism, both physical and spiritual. Everything we know in “this” universe was forced through the “eye of the needle” at that point, that instant, of creative transition.

      PS I LOVE the Rohr link!!! Consider that cosmology talks today about multiple universes, and that a given univere has a specific life span across deep time. Then, using the analogy of being, we could create an analog that compares the Earth to “Eternal Being” and it’s billion of trees to the potential for billions of universes, taken together as a “megaverse.” A tree lives and dies but is followed by other trees, yet the Earth continues on, just as universes live and die within an underlying self-sufficient, eternal being. In that expansive vision, then, Rohr’s “Christ” is the enduring entity across all times and all places. “Jesus” is the Chrsit to Earth, but there could be many more (uncountable) and perhaps women as well, depending on the norms of that Christ’s time and place. Yes, we are experincing a new Copernican moment in humanity’s understanding of our “reality.”

      • kathleen wilson says:

        Thanks for the link. I will check that out. Yes, I am just beginning to delve into all of this. I really like Fr. Richard Rohr. When Rohr speaks on Christ, Cosmology and Consciousness, he talks about this ever expanding universe/consciousness – about increasing complexity, expansion and convergence with a net gain which he doesn’t get into talk I sent in the youtube video link.
        I have several of Wilber books here and have not read most of them yet.
        Have you read the Course in Miracles? What do you think of that? Or familiar with Don Beck’s notion Spiral Dynamics? Rohr mentions the latter and often refers to Ken Wilbers work. I know a few catholics that think Rohr is a heretical and not following the teaching of Vatican or the Magisterium/succession.

      • rudyink says:

        Kathleen: I have really enjoyed Richard Rohr. I’m glad that the Franciscans are “protecting” him! His concepts in “Breathing Underwater” and “Falling Upward” are entirely consistent with “The Word.” As he mentions in this linked video on “Breathing Underwater,” he found it easy to reference solid biblical foundations, both Old and New Testament, for his thoughts on non-dual thinking, which interestingly can be found in Eastern religious teachings as well. But that would only make sense, given the ultimate roots the physical and spiritual ecumenism that underlies our very “Being.” I discuss these ideas in WW#11, #12 and #15. More to come in WW#16 — soon! Pax, Rudy

      • kathleen wilson says:

        Rudy, I have been MIA the last few weeks with job hunting as I am in transition at moment.
        I really liked the Rohr video above.Thanks for sharing and glad you like him too. We read his book called Falling Upwards written by Rohr at a spiritual bookclub that I attend last spring at this church http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFry2jqFLX8
        We are now reading a book called Practicing the Presence by Joel Goldsmith -ever heard of him? I find his writing difficult but 3/4 through the book and more explanations to his statements. And I am also reading The Emergent Christ: Exploring the Meaning of Catholic in an Evolutionary Universe which I love too. Another Fransiscan and similiar to message of the podcast I heard called Christ, Cosmology, and Consciousness by Rohr. Did you find that one online -if not I could burn a copy and send to you. That is interesting about Proof in Heaven but when I heard the ecoli in brain almost got sick to my stomach – and hard to read further. I faint at bloodtests?! I believe and do not feel the need for proof at this stage of my life. I can wait to find out.

      • rudyink says:

        Hi Kathleen! Thanks for the additional reading tips. Eben Alexander’s descriptions of his NDE, sepearate from the meningitis, are really quite amazing — and revealing — in detail. As I said about my own NDE in WW#10, it is an affirming event, one that clearly shows a vibrant, viable soul, which takes one from a position of “faith” to a feeling of “participation” in a real, much larger sense of Being. The takeaway, to use a crass business term, for both an NDE and mystical experience is that there is indeed a personal, loving God. Alexander seems to confirm the Trinity in his experience. In his recounting of “The Core,” God is incompreheissibly huge, yet immediately, personally present to him, a member of the “body of humaity” (my term) through “an orb of light” that is right next to him — like the tongues of fire at the Pentecost. All of it takes one from faith and hope to excitment and anticipation. It’s really quite amazing! Thanks for checking in! Pax, Rudy

      • rudyink says:

        PS In the Natural News review of Alexander’s book linked below, Mike Adams reads a lot of his own speculation into what’s offered as a book review.

      • rudyink says:

        PPS A recent video that I found very inspiring. Its wisdom is older than the three wise men who followed the star in the east and sought out Jesus at his birth.

      • kathleen wilson says:

        I will look at the new video above – isn’t he a Sufi? I will have to read WW#10 not sure what NDE is.
        Check this video out

        this is a meditation in nature isn’t it?

      • rudyink says:

        The Cheetah video is remarkable in both its natural and technical aspects. Very cool. And yes, Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi. I like how he is not bound by either the Bible nor the Qur’an. Yet, he draws on wisdom from people of both traditions, and wisdom from science, art and literature, too. Which only makes sense from within his perspective of “Oneness,” and his mystical source of Wisdom. Cosmology today tells us that there is likely more than one Universe (Eben Alexander says he was also told this while at “The Core,” that the number of universes is uncountable), so intelligent life should be found in all places and all times — wherever nature allows its development. That means that true wisdom is Eternal Wisdom, that which a mystic finds in contemplation. This matches Rohr’s meaning of “The Christ,” or the Cosmic Christ. Jesus is The Christ to Earth, yet how many more Christs are there for other universes, other worlds and generations of humanity? As I state in WW#11 and 12, this implies that the Body of Humanity is Eternal, yet not infinite, since is it always being added to with new life. It is a logical paradox. 😉 At the core, whether from Vaughan-Lee, Alexander or Rohr, is the fact, the primacy, of Love.

      • kathleen wilson says:

        Wow…Rudy hard to keep up with you. I feel like a spiritual kindergarten still learning the a,b,c’s struggling to keep up – this is spiritual brain gym for me!!! You are heavy weight lifter!

      • rudyink says:

        Kathleen: To balance Vaughn-Lee, here’s a short clip featuring Fr. Thomas Keating. This is magical!

      • kathleen wilson says:

        I recognized Vaugh lee from the movie the One. Listed to him – amazing. I am now listening to Keating. TTYL.

      • rudyink says:

        Hi Kathleen, In matters of the spirit, it’s not about “keeping up,” rather it is about being quiet and being present – and listening. It is a patient anticipation rooted in love. Vaughan-Lee expresses it beautifully when he talks about his first full encounter with God, when he talks about a butterfly touching his heart. After that, you don’t keep up, you just “are”! See WW#7 & 10 for my own paths. Pax, Rudy

      • kathleen wilson says:

        Hi Rudy,
        I know it isn’t a matter of keeping up and it is more of a longing/cosmic allurement as Rohr says. I am not familiar with most authors as I have just started on my path – that’s what I meant.

    • rudyink says:

      Hi Kathleen: Next on my reading list, “Prayer of the Heart in Christian and Sufi Mysticism”
      by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. This is a very natural follow-on to one of my other favorites, “God, Zen and the Intuition of Being” by the late James Arraj. I am so drawn to these inclusive, meta-religious titles. They reflect the spirit of Oneness that we find deep within the heart in contemplative prayer. Pax, Rudy


      • kathleen wilson says:

        My husband and I watched a movie last night called Bab’Aziz The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul http://vimeo.com/10533689 which is about Sufism. Also going to watch Rumi Turning Ecstatic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh0yNbhhzhk . I know little about muslim religion or sufism – What part does Sufism play in Muslim religion?

      • rudyink says:

        Great! I’ll check these out, thanks!

      • rudyink says:

        Hi Kathleen: Here’s a wonderful video featuring Ken Wilber and Fr. Thomas Keating talking about the transformational power of contemplative prayer. The transformation starts at the personal level, but its net effect is social in our resultant, mindful interactions with others within an “awakened,” connected sense of self. Keating also discusses the fact that contemplative prayer takes one to a place that is really beyond religion, because a full, spiritual communion is a wholly–and holy–ecumenical awareness. Nonetheless, our personal roots in religion still connect us to our own personal traditions and communities, so they should not be abandoned, regadless of their perceived shortcomings. It is within these communities where an awakened person can make their first contributions to social transformation. This is a remarkable, profound video! And it has much in common with the Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee clip above. Pax, Rudy

    • rudyink says:

      Kathleen: Happy New Year and thanks for your referrals and links. They’ve re-invigorated my interest and research. WW#16 coming soon and something larger in the works! Pax, Rudy

      • kathleen wilson says:

        Happy New Year to you Rudy!
        Hope you had enjoyable holidays this year!

        I have a new one to turn you on to…Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathon Sacks. I heard a bit of an interview with Christa Tippet’s On Being program on NPR
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrQ75meskWI . Here is a YouTube lecture about his book Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations

        Another great one with Cheif Rabbi was interview with atheist Richards Dawkins and other ones…

      • rudyink says:

        Kathleen, Ah, more great links — thanks! I will check these out. Dawkins is so militantly non-spiritual. His “self project” is very strong!

  10. rudyink says:

    Kathleen, I haven’t read The Course in Miracles, nor Beck’s work. More for my list! Is Rohr heretical? Were Galileo or Copernicus? Initially, yes. Ultimately, no. If one sticks to only an earth-centric concept of Christ, then the more expansive idea of “The Christ” for all times, all worlds, all universes would be quite unsettling. But that very denial is to deny the absolute grandeur of a non-contingent, self-sufficient Being, aka, God. Everything that “is” has its source, except the “Unmoved Mover,” or “Final Cause.” The raw logic is clear. The name that I’ve used is the Body of Humanity, aka, The Christ. I’ve used Body of Humanity from an ecumenical, organic perspective. But either name can be applied to reflective, aware beings who arise from temporal existence, no matter where or when it exists. From a purely mathematical, statistical, probability perspective, I find it impossible to believe that there is not other “intelligent” life even within our own Milky Way, much less the billions of other galaxies in our own universe. (Wiki the “Drake Equation.”) Add to all of this the idea of a “megaverse” — multiple universes — likely as numerous as the number of galaxies in our own universe — to be consistent in terms of mathematical proportion — then the Body of Humanity is itself beyond our comprehension in number. Given that God is eternal in nature (How can there ever be “nothing” in an absolute sense?), and that there have been an uncountable number of universes, then the Body of Humanity is eternal, but not infinite because it is constantly expanding, as we know here on Earth. (This points to the value of new life and the sanctity of procreation. On the other hand, I am personally agnostic on the issue of committed, same-sex unions. [Functionally, not procreative ‘marriage.’] I have witnessed genuine love among couples I’ve known.) The afterlife will not be boring! As I describe in WW#7, there is true joy in embacing “all of this.” It is intimidating to consider, at first, but as Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says, knowing that the universe is “in us,” that makes him feel “large”! I too find particular joy under a star-struck sky when I contemplate the ideas of participation and belonging. The intuitive possession of this contemplation is yet another source of peace. They key to the core possession of any contemplation is to be quiet, to put away the words and just “be with” the experience, the intuition. It is the lived, sensed experience that creates the words. Keep sending me reading ideas! Pax, Rudy

  11. rudyink says:

    To deliver oneself up,
    to hand oneself over,
    entrust oneself completely to the silence
    of a wide landscape of woods and hills,
    or sea and desert; to sit still while
    … the sun comes up over the land
    and fills its silences with light.

    …few are willing to belong completely
    to such silence, to let it soak into their bones,
    to breathe nothing but silence, to feed
    on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life
    into a living and vigilant silence.

    ~ Thomas Merton
    from Thoughts in Solitude

    • kathleen wilson says:

      That is beautiful. In my spiritual bookclub, we are reading Joel GoldSmith’s book called Practicing the Presence – which this poem sorta reminds me so far as the sense of total surrender/commitment to going within.

    • kathleen wilson says:

      So what did you think of Cheif Rabbi Sir Jonathon Sacks? Here is another one on the Dignity of Difference. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrQ75meskW
      I thought he was brilliant.

      Also, just listened to Fr. Thomas Keatings Oneness of Heart – it moved me to tears.Such beautiful thoughts and a man. I also googled if Keating is considered faithful by Vatican and found that Contemplative Prayer is considered like Christianizing Hindu and Zen and therefore “wrong”. Self-emptying into the abyss is wrong. I do not understand all the infighting with Catholicism and the Magisterium approved etc. Why is there so much infighting within Catholicism?

      Help me to understand this. I went to a CAtholic girls school Grade 1 -12 and didn’t learn a thing about it. Great education but learned little- no formation. So I am finally learning a bit now. I read Rohr’s Why be Catholic and it was excellent. But many consider him heretical.

      Do you know anything about Regnum Christi Catholicism? Sorry for asking so many questions…just trying to learn here. Fire away : )

      • rudyink says:

        Hi Kathleen! Yeah, I love Keating. He reminds me so much of the Jesuit that led my philosophy senior comprehensive review. (See WW#9) The exact, measured language mixed with remarkable insights and a humorous humility — he “is the Other”! He and Rabbi Sacks share the aspect of lived, experienced faith, what Keating calls the third eye. They are not just wrote learning, ‘chapter and verse,’ they know “being in presence.” It’s that raw act of quiet presence with the Spirit, before and without words. And perhaps in relation to strict dogma, Keating is at the leading edge, even a little outside the box. But as he discusses in the “Spiritual Not Religious” video with Ken Wilber, the chief outcome of the Snowmass Inter-Religious Conferences is their recognition of the shared fact of faith among these varied leaders of global religions. Meanwhile, specific religions are critically important in gathering their respective flocks at the ground-level mythical stage and drawing them ideally through the steps of mindfulness to transcendence. And as Keating says, not to abandon any one religion, but to enrich it with the Presence of Spirit in each awakened individual. Also, I agree, it is tragic that the Church doesn’t encourage spirituality. We’ve lost the magic of Acts, what we were after Jesus, humanity truly becoming The Christ. Ignatian Spiritual Practices do so, but not wth the same level of emptying found in Centering Prayer or Buddhism. I LOVE the Presence of Spirit, but I still find it essential to be in communion with my parish, regardless the many flaws of the current church. Personally and corporately, the Church is in constant birthing. The pangs are sharp in these days. Pax, Rudy

      • kathleen wilson says:

        When I listened to Fr. Keating Oneness of Heart video, one of many parts that jumped out at me was when he spoke about …vibrating to words of God, not using but rather vibration of our own heart to mysterious hum of universe just like the Hubble (sp?) picked up this noise- science validating. Wasn’t that incredible? Do you remember hearing that part? I agree and understand wanting to be in communion with your parish regardless of the flaws of the church. I feel the same way just wish I could have a Fr. Rohr or Keating at my church with guest speakers like Sufi Lew Ellyn and Ken Wilber..in an old fashioned, frescoed wall, gorgeous architecture. Both/and at it’s best…inclusive yet transcendent. I have met one too many recently that are so judgemental about the ‘right’ and wrong interpretations. In fact, while listening to one of the video’s, saw a video talking about Satin’s teaching of Emergent Christianity, let alone the condemnation of Centering Prayer as new age. What is up with that???

      • rudyink says:

        Kathleen — Yes, the vibration of “Being”! Eben Alexander talks about that a lot, too! Philosophically, we can follow the continuum of meaning on many different orders — following the river to its source. On the order of nature, the order of love, of beauty, of mercy — of science! As Keating said, science is now writing a similar story of *revelation* based on centuries of *realization.* A case in point is this video of a “sermon” (small ‘s’) by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Start at about 6 minutes in…you will be amazed at the similarities.

        But then, each order is a different expression of the Oneness of Being, so at any one order’s deepest roots, we should find commonality. We see that in nature in the physical form of a tree — from the tips of the diverse, feathery limbs, connecting down into the continuum of their common trunk. Being & Likeness, or in the metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas, the “analogy of being.” Keating mentoined the Big Bang. To me, the Big Bang is the ultimate form of ecumenism, both spiritual and physical. Here’s my contemplation on science from coments on WW#10:

        “From Science: It is gift to one’s self, in spirit and in place and time, to embrace our physical presence in this moment and then be aware of how our mindfulness and how our spirit reaches across both time and space. Each of us is a realization of potential that begins physically and expands spiritually in a constant birthing — from seed to womb to life to understanding to encounter — to Being! From the diminution of pure energy that created this time and place, that allows us to come to be, then we are reborn to that original energy, that spirit to which we shall return. Then we become gift to others and the One Spirit that created us. But we can be that gift—now! We are the only ones that separate ourselves from the gift of each other—and from The Beloved.”

      • kathleen wilson says:

        Rudy, yThank you. You should write a book. You write beautifully and explain it so well. I will listen to the recording later this weekend.

      • kathleen wilson says:

        I just listened to Neil DeGrasse Tyson Beyond Belief ’06 above. I loved it..and feel the same sense of excitement he has ever since I first heard the notion of this expanding consciousness/evolutionary universe first by Fr. Rohr (Christ, Cosmology, and Cosciousness), then in reading Sr. Ilia Delio’s book called the Emergent Christ: Exploring Catholicism in an Evolutionary Universe.
        When Tyson spoke of us having the same iron in our blood as in the matter from space that crashed into our earth in empowering. The sense of adventure in learning the unfolding, continual discovery of ourselves as you said “from seed to womb to life to understanding to encounter – to Being! …then we are reborn to original energy can be in the here and now and to which we shall return.
        After hearing Tyson’s passionate, enthusiam, my thoughts went immediately to your ‘mantra’ in WW# 9 “to instill a sense of wonder, a hunger, even…..
        One Boson; One quark….One”.
        Delio speaks of the globalization of our world, technology/internet as part of this evolutionary expansion and convergence at the same time as well. I enjoy hearing the word adventure being used in relation to spiritual/God matters as well.I felt this when I heard Tyson’s sermon as you called it. Why can’t they do this at mass???

      • kathleen wilson says:

        An example of evolutionary perspective: Professor Raimon Panikkar, one of the greatest scholars of the 20th century in the areas of comparative religion, theology, and inter-religious dialogue, died at his home in Tavertet, near Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 26. He was 91.

        One of Panikkar’s many striking sentences looking back on his life’s journey asserts: “I left Europe [for India] as a Christian, I discovered I was a Hindu and returned as a Buddhist without ever having ceased to be a Christian.” A wealth of meaning lies in that assertion. Christianity in its historical evolution began as a Jewish tradition and then spread to the Greco-Roman world, acquiring along the way Greek and Roman cultural expressions which have given it a certain form and character. Panikkar, having grown up and having been trained in a traditional Catholic and neo-Thomist environment, had a profound knowledge of, and respect for, that tradition. This knowledge prepared him for discussions with some of the great minds of 20th-century Catholicism: Jean Danielou, Yves Congar, Hans Urs von Balthazar, and others. He was also invited to take part in the Synod of Rome and the Second Vatical Council. But Panikkar did not confuse or conflate historical contingency with spiritual truth. In Hinduism and Buddhism Panikkar found other languages, in addition to Biblical Hebrew, Greek philosophy, and Latin Christianity, to express the core convictions (the kerygma) of the Christian tradition.

        That was the main thesis of The Unknown Christ of Hinduism, which Panikkar originally presented as a doctoral thesis to the Lateran University in Rome in 1961, based as it was on a close textual comparison between Thomas Aquinas and Sankara’s interpretation of a canonical Hindu scripture, the Brahma-Sutras. Christ and his teaching are not, so Panikkar argues, the monopoly or exclusive property of Christianity seen as a historical religion. Rather, Christ is the universal symbol of divine-human unity, the human face of God. Christianity approaches Christ in a particular and unique way, informed by its own history and spiritual evolution. But Christ vastly transcends Christianity. Panikkar calls the name “Christ” the “Supername,” in line with St. Paul’s “name above every name” (Phil 2:9), because it is a name that can and must assume other names, like Rama or Krishna or Ishvara.


  12. rudyink says:

    “Christ vastly transcends Christianity.” Ah, the statement at the root of “The Cosmic Christ.” They say that there is nothing new, just new ways of saying the same thing. This transcendence is why I like the term “Body of Humanity,” which is inclusive of all people of all times and all places.

    Kathleen — another wonderful reference to this core awakening that happens over and over, person by person — when one seeks! 50 books added to the list! Thank you again.

    You asked if I meditate. I guess I would call it a discursive meditation normally on the order of, or fact of, “being.” What it is “to exist.” On the surface, existence is self-evident. (Duh!) But, when we start to consider the contingencies and lineage of our own existence, we find a very rich and long path to contemplate.

    You’ll find examples of this in WW#2, #7 and #9, specifically. At the core of my process is a form of lectio divina, thoughtful analysis and considering a particular subject or trait, versus a biblical passage. This is either drilling down in detail to the most fundamental aspects of “something” (WW#2), or finding the irreducible aspect of the subject being considered. Key to this process is considering the sense of continuum and logical integrity. The metaphor for the process is following the river to its source. And the process is followed from my own immediate, sentient experience.

    Over time, my alert discourse has morphed from words to “being,” and has melded with a deeper intuition, which waters of intuition are initially just the surface of the deep waters of a broader awareness.

    Ultimately this broader awareness leads one to spiritual encounter–infusion perhaps–and ultimately to the Presence with the Fullness of Being. (See WW#9) This is the interplay of realization and revelation, which when mixed together in fullness are a lived, concurrent sense of being, what Fr. Keating refers to as “The Other, capital “O”!

    There is an invitation and consent in this process of “allurement.” It is marvelous!

    Something that struck me this evening: From teacher to pupil: from being to words, from words to being. The teacher starts with being, the student arrives at being. That Being is what binds the works of Aquinas and Sankara.

  13. kathleen wilson says:

    Synchronicity at it’s best…just found one a book in my queue called Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault. forgot I had bought this and then when you started talking about Fr Thomas in this blog, ran across this book this past weekend!!
    I noticed Fr. Keating wrote the Forward in the book. Ms Bourgeault was editor to two of Keatings books, Invitation to Love and Intimacy with God and he was her mentor/teacher for several years.

    http://youtu.be/rk_IRkkCz2A Bourgeault and Centering Prayer

    • rudyink says:

      Oh yes, the Rev. Dr. Bourgeault! Check out this vid from the Science and Non-Duality Conference. Perception from Oneness — spot on! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2SRVr89GFU&feature=share&list=FLMpLGAQ5SJ1a9x3oP5kXSbg

      • kathleen wilson says:

        Thanks Rudy, that was an excellent one giving the history of Centering Prayer.
        Have you attended the Science and Non-Duality conference before? Or involved in the Noetic sciences?

      • rudyink says:

        Hi Kathleen, I’ve not been to the SAND Conference. I’d love to attend that, and the Snowmass Inter-Religious Conference. More for the bucket list! As for the Noetic Sciences, philosophically, its roots are are in Neoplatonism and the concepts of “The One” and

        The work of the ancient philosophers is seminal and repeated and repackaged through history in many iterations and interpretations. One could say that the biblical concept of “God” finds its source in this thinking. “Image and Likeness” finds similar expression in Neoplatonism.

        My own take is that, given our common human spiritual capacity, it only makes sense that the roots of such core experience are represented over and over with nuanced, regional and traditional tonality. This expression of “The One” is analogous to love songs: how many ways have men and women sung about love — and will continue to do so!

        Central to the “Being” of ‘what is’, is our own personal experience and expression of the unspoken presence as we emerge from that encounter and “sing about it with our own note.” Ths is the essence of “Woods Walking,” my personal recounting of intimate presence with, and in, Spirit. What I love about the work of Fr. Thomas Keating and his Snowmass Conferences is the summative, ecumenical expression of our common spiritual patrimony.

        Here’s one of his Conference welcome messages. Listening to his wisdom, we can hear that he is a true gift to humanity!

        Here’s the Wiki info on Neoplatonism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism

      • kathleen says:

        Yes, Yes. Yes. Love what Fr. Keating is saying here!
        I do love much about other religions already but have kept it to myself. I am definitely eclectic in that respect.The noble truths are evident to me or as Fr. Keating says see how the holy spirit works within them. It is interesting that I am finding many people now, who speak to this. Raimon Panikkar is one who has synthesized aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, and still considers himself a Christian. In fact he wrote the book The Unknown Christ in Hinduism -which is in the queue to read in my pile of books. It isn’t who has the right truth or the better interpretation of the truth- to me it’s all about glimpses of divinity or facets of the same prism of light. Did you see the movie Life of Pi yet? There is a scene in the movie where the main character (name escapes me now) as a child was so curious about exploring and loving other religions. His father said you can’t really do that and must choose one. I thought to myself, I can totally relate to this young man and wondered why not. I see that someone like Raimon Panikkar is a bit like that. So glad I am running across this train of thought out there! Thanks for sharing (saw this on your Facebook also).

      • kathleen says:

        BTW you summarized it well…”is the summative, ecumenical expression of our common spiritual patrimony” seems much of the essence of being able to transcend the religious paths to the presence of the ultimate reality of God.

        Where did you learn all of the philosophy and theology involved in Catholicism? You are so well read and informed?

      • rudyink says:

        Hey Kathleen, Thanks for the kind words! My BA is in philosophy from Xavier University. As I describe in WW#9, the departmental systematic was based on the Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. My analysis and contemplation is based on the order of “being.” A lot of what I write here is from “unpacking” of spiritual infusion. “Unpacking” is borrowed from Eben Alexander, where the infused contemplation leaves far more than we can express easily in words in a short span or recounting. As you know, this blog is my own “awakening to awakening” — when I pay attention to what’s “inside,” it’s like, dang, look at this! ;-)) It is humbling and joyous at the same time. As for “being,” note how Fr. Keating closes his Inter-Religious video — “Just to be.” This is the heart of centering prayer, just “to be” perhaps as a prism of the light within when we consent to be a font for that light. Thus Keating’s “there is no Other. You and the Other are one!” Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and Keating talk about this in terms of vibration, that our own vibration synchronizes with “The One.” Or, both hearts singing — being — in harmony. Also, as you know, my own process is more of “on-the-go introspection” mixed with a discursive contemplation that seeks the root of, or follows the continuum of, the item being considered. And rather than being “judgemental,” it is observant, which is an important distinction. An example is WW#2 and “The Metaphysics of a Fork.” At the core of this analysis is the irreducible fact of being of the fork. That fact of being can be applied to all that is in the universe, to borrow from Fr. Norris Clarke, SJ. (Yeah, another Jevvie!) Science and theology intersect at the fact of being as well, specifcally at the Big Bang, which is the ultimate form of ecumenism, either spiritual or physical. So, with that empirical knowledge, the best repsonse is to give in to the allurement of the “I Am.” Can a flower deny the field or a tree deny the sky? Then we should not deny that attractive “mysitcal smell” of the Spirit. It’s the smell of the Heavenly banquet that we can be with — now! Pax, Rudy

      • kathleen says:

        We have a Pope – did you read the article in last week Fri/Sat WSJ about the 6 views of what type of Pope should be elected?

      • rudyink says:

        I didn’t get to read that. Do you have the link?

  14. rudyink says:

    Hi All, I have created a page that shows all of the Woods Walking posts in chronological order, including the dates posted. Please share it and enjoy! Pax, Rudy

  15. rudyink says:

    “The mind can go in a thousand directions but on this beautiful path I walk in peace.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

  16. Derek Lynas says:

    Wonderful discovery.
    Reminds me of an encounter I had with a tree many years ago. People think I’m nuts when I mention it.
    In short I was working in between college in a London park and I was suddenly conscious of a tree I was approaching. We communicated and in an instant we where as one entity. I can only describe it as two beings becoming aware of each other words unspoken, volumes and volumes understood in an instant.
    Wonderful experience.
    This site has brought it all back to me.

  17. rudyink says:

    At the core, Woods Walking is coming to terms with our deep capacity to open our spiritual eyes. Here is a wonderful video about just that from Global Spirit. Let it be Spiritual Touch for you.

  18. rudyink says:

    Before I knew what I was doing in the woods, this is what I was doing.

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