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Grace Light Blessing and Truth Ministries

Chapter 1 SPIRITUAL HUMANISM EXPLAINED Religious or “Spiritual” Humanism The definition of religion used by religious humanists is a functional one. Religion is that which serves the personal and social needs of a group of people sharing the same philosophical world view. To serve personal needs, religious humanism offers a basis for moral values, an inspiring set of ideals, methods for dealing with life's harsher realities, a rationale for living life joyously and an overall sense of purpose. To serve social needs, humanist religious communities offer a sense of belonging, an institutional setting for the moral education of adults and children, special holidays shared with like-minded people, a unique ceremonial life, the performance of ideologically consistent rites of passage (weddings, child welcomings, coming-of-age celebrations, funerals, and so forth), an opportunity for affirmation of one's philosophy of life as well as historical context for one's ideas. Religious humanists maintain that most human beings have personal and social needs that can only be met by religion (taken in the functional sense just detailed). They do not feel that one should have to make a choice between meeting these needs in a traditional faith context versus not meeting them at all. Individuals who cannot feel at home in traditional religion should be able to find a home in non-traditional religion. Does this functional definition of religion amount to taking away the substance and leaving only the superficial trappings? Not at all, the true substance of religion is the role it plays in the lives of individuals and the life of the community. Doctrines may differ from denomination to denomination, and new doctrines may replace old ones, but the purpose religion serves for PEOPLE remains the same. If one defines the substance of a thing as that which is most lasting and universal, then the function of religion is the core of it. Religious humanists, in realizing this, make sure that doctrine is never allowed to subvert the higher purpose of meeting human needs in the here and now. This is why humanist child welcoming ceremonies are geared to the community and humanist matriomonial services are tailored to the specialized needs of the individual couple. This is why humanist memorial services focus, not on saving the soul of the dear departed, but on serving the survivors by giving them a memorable experience related to how the deceased was in life. This is why Humanists don't proselytize people on their death beds. They find it better to allow them to die as they have lived, undisturbed by the agendas of others. Finally, religious humanism is "faith in action." Christian Humanism The faith is defined by Webster's Third New International Dictionary as "a philosophy advocating the self- fulfillment of man within the framework of Christian principles." What is Christ-centered Spiritual Humanism? It is a religious practice based on the ability of human beings to understand society and solve its problems using logic and scientific method within the framework of an understanding of the Christ consciousness. What is Christ-consciousness? "Even the least among you can do as I have done."- Jesus Some people seek their divinities, like some Christians seek God or Christ, as external entities that act upon them and their lives, steering them through life's challenges and difficult moral decisions in times of crisis. Although it is possible to discover answers in the midst of strife and suffering, this is Heaven’s least desired way. Yet, it is a common human path because many never turn toward that external divine until they are suffering and thus are operating emotionally and, sometimes, irrationally. However; when people employ consistent disciplined and selflessly motivated quests for the discovery and practice of Christ's nature and teachings and also seek to manifest those discoveries and practices in themselves, at all times, not just particularly when faced with challenges, an empowering pathway becomes accessible to calm, disciplined and rational minds. Recognizing how the power of religious rituals, methods and communication can impact human behavior, Christ-centered spiritual humanism fuses traditional Christian religious behaviors onto the foundation of scientific humanist inquiry. Practitioners seek to understand anew the underlying significance and meaning of the tenants and practices of their faith as persons fully participating inside these transactions as co-creators rather than as persons who are observing them from the outside or having them enacted upon them. By using a method of scientific inquiry they can define and own heightened appreciations of the Christ power that is the inspirational divine spark inherent and available to all who embrace and nurture it. CHAPTER 2 THE SPIRITUAL PROCESS Embracing and nurturing the divine spark in every person is a test of faith in this modern world. Alienation and separation across cultures, faiths, communities and families divide human beings by placing barriers to understanding their inner and inter-relationship to other humans, to the natural world and to the Divine. Practitioners of Christ-centered Spiritual Humanism seek Scripture, the Humanities, life experience, structured inquiry, community and faith to bring about greater understanding of and connectedness to living essences and the living Divine. It is the intention of practitioners be more fulfilled and thus more motivated to bring about real and positive change during their earth walk: in themselves, their relationship to others, the universe and Jesus Christ. How Practitioners Use the structured inquiry: For Christ-center spiritual humanists, the structured inquiry can be applied to both the tenants and practice of faith. Here is the method and an example of its life application. This particular example moves from scripture to practice, but inquiry can move from action to scripture also. 1. Consider some aspect of the faith. Example: The Golden Rule The Golden Rule or the ethic of reciprocity is found in the scriptures of nearly every religion. It is often regarded as the most concise and general principle of ethics. Christian Faith “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” The Gospel of Matthew Matt 7:12, Luke 6:31 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 19.18 “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” Christianity. Bible, Matthew 7.12 the great and first commandmen Bahá'í Faith “And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.” Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 30 Hindu Faith “This is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain.” The Mahabharata “One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire.” The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8 Jewish Faith “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.” The Talmud Zoroastrian Faith “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29 Buddhist Faith “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.” Udana-Varga Muslim Faith “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” Hadith “Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13 It is the intention of the practitioner to live the Golden Rule in practice of daily life. Christ is understood to be saying that treating people in the manner the self would want to be treated allows for kinder and more considered exchanges and reactions in life. 2. Invent a theory that is consistent with what you have considered. Example: “I dislike being judged negatively. When I criticize my son for being too noisy in the car, I imagine it upsets him because being criticized is being judged negatively. And I wouldn’t like it.” 3. Use the theory to make predictions. Example: “If I begin to notice and tell him how much I like it during the times he is quiet in the car, I think he may feel good about himself and want be quiet more often.” 4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations. Example: do compliment the child when he is quiet in the car. 5. Modify the theory in the light of your results. Example: “I observe that my theory worked well to quiet my son in the car. I criticize my daughter when she doesn’t hang up her clothes. I will try this new approach with her.” 6. Go to step 3 and make new predictions. By applying the scientific method in this example, both theory and praxis of the faith in a Christ-conscious manner are experienced first-hand by the practitioner and the children. The change in everyone’s behavior is positive, and importantly, their positive experiences of faith can create exponential consequences in their future interactions with others. MEDITATION It has been said that in prayer we are offered the opportunity to talk to the Divine; through meditation we are offered the opportunity to hear the Divine speak to us. Often practitioners use meditation as a preparation to the application of the scientific method, either to relax and clear their interior space in order to become more receptive to the process or to consider Scriptural passages that may be applicable to step one of the scientific method or methodologies to bring about step two. Through meditation they exercise the gift to be silent and seek divine guidance. How to Meditate Get in a comfortable sitting position in a quiet place. It is preferable to try to have the spine straight, but do what is comfortable. (It is not always good to lie down, as this may make one sleepy. But again, do what works as an individual.) Make sure to have at least 15 minutes of undisturbed time to get totally relaxed. Some use music during meditation while others prefer silence. The key is to create an undistracted environment. Close the eyes. For a minute or so, just breathe and pay attention to the breath. Breathe in and out slowly and at a medium breath rate. Focus on the sound, smell and feeling of the air that circulates through the body as the lungs expand and contract while inhaling and exhaling. If thoughts or images interfere with the mind, dismiss them and let them go as friends to be greeted at another time. Always return to focus on breathing. Once the breath becomes even, deep and calming, begin to concentrate on the “screen” that appears before the closed eyes. If the purpose of meditation is relaxation, begin to visualize the ideal of a relaxing environment. Walk through a forest, sit by a waterfall, recline on a soft silk bed by projecting those images on the screen. Go deeper and begin to hear the leaves rustle; the water pour or the sheets softly caress the body. Smell the wildflowers, the sweet moss or the perfume of the room. Remain focused until a release of tension and peacefulness prevails. If meditating to find resolution to any matter or question, after having accomplished the breath focus of the session, repeat the query ten times in the same words and then just be silent and breathe. Be aware of the thoughts or words that come to mind. Listen and acknowledge the thoughts that enter the mind. These words, images or senses can lead to guidance and solutions. When ready, come gently back by retracing the route, leaving the water, or rising slowly from the bed; don’t jerk back to reality. Some find it helpful to enter information about each meditation in journal form immediately after the session. This practice puts major concepts close at hand, frees the mind for additional work and provides a tool for overview of one’s passage. CHAPTER 3 THE PRACTICES OF THE FAITH Religious Observance A community service is usually held on a weekly basis with smaller groups meeting every two weeks at another time for focused purposes. A community service begins with communion and then a shared meal. During the meal, two congregants share a Scripture verse they have selected without consulting one another. After the meal, all congregants honor a period of silence for reflection upon the verses offered. The silence is broken with recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Then three congregants with inquiries from their daily realities offer them for study by the group using the scientific method and Scripture as the matrix for discussion. Each inquiry is then discussed for a set period of time. When discussion has ended, a pastor sums up the crux of each inquiry and delivers a message inspired by the process. Following the message, the congregation shares reiki and prayer. For Christ-centered spiritual humanists there are four major days of religious observance and celebration: Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and Thanksgiving. Observing holidays is a tradition intertwined with spirituality. Here are some astronomical events that have been used to mark holy days in many different religions for thousands of years. Celebrating these events recognizes both the continuity and commonality of humanity over thousands of years and humanity’s process of growth. Winter Solstice The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, with the sun at its lowest and weakest. In the Northern Hemisphere it usually occurs around December 21st. In pagan Scandinavia, the winter festival was the Yule, celebrated by burning the hearth fires of the magically significant Yule log. In the Celtic Druid culture, the Winter Solstice was celebrated by hanging sacred mistletoe over a doorway or in a room to offer goodwill to visitors. Germanic tribes decorated a pine or fir tree with candles and tokens. The Inca held midwinter ceremonies at temples that served as astronomical observatories like Machu Pichu. Romans celebrated this event with Saturnalia, a festival of merrymaking, and decorating their homes and temples with holly and evergreens. Also popular in Rome was the exchange of small gifts thought to bring luck to the recipient. In the fourth century AD, Christian authorities in Rome attempted to eliminate the pagan festivities by adopting December 25th as Christ’s birthday. The effort was never completely successful, and eventually many Winter Solstice customs were incorporated into Christmas observances. Spring Equinox Spring or Vernal Equinox, also known as Ostara, Easter, and St. Patrick's Day, occurs in the middle of March in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the beginning of spring and the time when days and nights are of equal length. Megalithic people on Europe’s Atlantic fringe calculated the date of the Spring Equinox using circular monuments constructed of huge stones. Germanic tribes associated it with the fertility goddess Ostara. The Mayans of Central America still gather at the pyramid at Chichen Itza which was designed to produce a "serpent" shadow on the Spring Equinox. The Ancient Saxons held a feast day for their version of the fertility goddess, Eostre, on the full moon following the Vernal Equinox. Eostre is associated with the symbols of decorated eggs and hares. Ancient influences from the worship of the goddess Ostara or Eostre have persisted in the form of fertility symbols of Easter eggs and the hare or rabbit in the Christian passion of Christ’s crucifixion and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, Easter. By the use of these symbols of spring, rebirth, and fertility we reinforce our connection to humanity's past. Fall Equinox In the Northern Hemisphere the Autumnal Equinox, occurs around September 23rd or 24th. It is also known as Michaelmas, Mabon, and Harvest Home. Traditionally, the Japanese marked the spring and fall Equinox with higan, a seven day period in which they remember their ancestors by visiting the family grave, cleaning the tombstone, offering flowers and food, burning incense sticks and praying. The Polish Feast of Greenery involves bringing bouquets and foods for blessing by a priest, then using them for medicine or keeping them until the following year’s harvest. Romans celebrated the Fall Equinox that was dedicated to Pomona, goddess of fruits and growing things. A feast was celebrated with a traditional well fattened goose which had fed well on the stubble of the fields after the harvest. Another tradition of the Autumnal Equinox is the use of ginger. All manner of foods seasoned with ginger are part of the day's menu from gingerbread to ginger beer. In England, the last sheaf of corn harvested represented the `spirit of the field' and was made into a doll. Corn dolls were drenched with water representing rain or burned to represent the death of the grain spirit. Large wickerwork figures were also constructed to represent a vegetation spirit and burnt in mock sacrifice. Farmers and merchants gathered at fairs. Often a large glove was suspended above the fair, symbolizing the handshake of promises and openhandedness and generosity. The celebration of harvest was imported to America and is now celebrated on Thanksgiving Day. SACRAMENTS Baptism Baptism by water and the Spirit, as recorded in Scriptures, is a sign of the dedication of each life to God and God's Service. Through the words and acts of this sacrament, the recipient, in infancy, childhood or adulthood, is identified as God's own. Holy Communion Holy Communion is the partaking of blessed bread and fruit of the vine in accordance with the words of Jesus: "This is my body ... this is my blood". All who believe, after examining their consciences, acknowledge their human fragilities and seek divine love through Christ by freely participating in the communal meal. RITES The Rite of Commitment The rite of Commitment is the spiritual joining of two persons in a manner fitting and proper by a duly authorized Pastor of the church. After both persons have been counselled and informed of their responsibilities one towards the other, this rite of conferring God's blessing may be performed. The Rite of Funeral/Memorial Service The Rite of Funeral or Memorial Service is to be fittingly conducted by the Pastor of the church for the deceased. The Rite of Laying-on of Hands The Rite of Laying-on of Hands or prayer for the healing of the sick in mind, body or spirit is to be conducted by the ministers of the church and their appointees, at their discretion, and upon request using the Reiki modality. What is Reiki? Principles of Reiki Healing Healing is not the popular conception of removal of symptoms. Reiki healing seeks full and complete resolution of the causes of a dis-ease; physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Such healing is returning to a state of alignment with one’s Higher Self or true way of being. How It's Done In its simplest form using Reiki is simply the practitioner’s prayerful placing of their hands on the recipient with the intent of bringing healing by putting themselves aside in order that God given Reiki energy can flow through them to the recipient. There is a set of hand positions traditionally taught which give good coverage over the recipient’s entire body. It is not necessary to follow those positions, they are merely taught as a starting position from which the practitioner can learn. If there is a specific area of concern the practitioner can keep his/her hands right there for as long as necessary. Some practitioners employ the healing powers of nature found in stones and minerals to heighten the strength of Reiki’s healing energy. The Rite of Blessing The Rite of Blessing may be conducted by the ministers of the church for persons, things and relationships, when deemed appropriate by the ministers. This includes the dedication of a church building to the Glory of the Divine. CHAPTER 4 WHAT PRACTITIONERS SEEK FROM THE FAITH Learned Optimism Learned optimism is the decision to live one’s life with a focus on positive occurrences and outcomes. For Christ-centered spiritual humanists, it is a way of thought and a call to action that concentrates on building strengths and creating foundations for success through the practice of Christian faith and the direction of behaviors that will accomplish the greatest good for both the individual and the whole of humankind. The positive psychology movement calls this optimistic lifestyle that accentuates positive thinking and acting the “good life.” What is the ‘good life’? As psychology begins to take the building of the best things in life as seriously as it has taken the healing of the worst, more of a science regarding what constitutes “a good life” is needed than presently exists. The main purpose of a positive psychology is to measure, understand and then build human strengths and the civic virtues. But to begin there is a need to know what the individual strengths and the civic virtues are --the positive traits that transcend particular cultures and politics-- and approach universality. Positive psychology needs taxonomy: a listing of items to be considered in the category. Taxonomies do not float in a vacuum. Rather, they serve a purpose. Clothing, for example, can be categorized by style for designers, by cost for shoppers or by weight for shippers, depending on the purpose of the inquiry. The main purpose of taxonomy (the tone of the set of questions used for inquiry) for positive psychology is to guide the formulation and building of the “good life.” The “good life” does not mean a Mercedes, fine wine and sun drenched beaches. For Christ-centered spiritual humanists it means a life of peace, joy and good works grounded in a union with the grace and essence of Jesus Christ. Here are several ways of casting questions about the “good life.” Which will be most fruitful for taxonomy appropriate for the Christ-centered spiritual humanist? 1. Traditional. Do our cultural and religious writings, like the Scriptures and philosophies, about self-actualization, about wisdom and about creating an art of life yield taxonomy of the “good life?” 2. Sanity. Mental health professionals categorize mental disorders for the purpose of measurement and treatment. Conversely is there an array of human strengths—the 'sanities'—that as the opposite of the disorders can help lay a foundation for the “good life?” 3. Parental. Beyond those qualities provided by genetic inheritance, what would responsible parents most want to bestow upon their children? 4. Political. To assess across time, culture and political systems how closely a people came to the “good life”, what set of questions would be asked? 5. Self-actualization. If we wanted to know, as we aged and accomplished or failed, how close we were to the “good life”, what would we ask ourselves? 6. Best exemplars. Rather than trying to agree on the elusive dimensions of the “good life”, can we think instead of an array of paradigmatic 'good lives,' e.g., Jesus Christ, Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and measure proximity to such sterling examples? Because of the faith’s constant application of the scientific method, any of these taxonomies can be used to measure “the good life” according to their applicability to the query. Their applicability is fluid and is influenced by Scriptural reference, situation, life stage and other influencing factors. Continual Improvement It has to be recognized that no one has all the answers. The code of human conduct cannot yet be written in stone because we still have much to learn. If we find better ways to think, understand, or explain the world around us, we must adopt these methods. Christ-centered spiritual humanism actively seeks, through application of the structured inquiry, to achieve incremental, continual improvement with contributions from the full range of human experience. We also see the need to apply the method of continual improvement to all areas of human activity and seek to manifest this by helping others improve their whole condition. GROWTH For any movement, especially a religious one, to be successful it must actively be promoted and expanded by its members. Without the persistent efforts of its members, it will flounder and fail. One of the essential tasks of those who recognize the truths disclosed by the methods of Christ-centered spiritual humanism is to help other people discover the validity of these methods for themselves. CHAPTER 5 THE GIFT OF HEALING Ancient healers knew that the human body is more than what is seen by the eyes. They understood the body as a multi-dimensional whole that embraced the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual and appreciated the Divine within all beings. Those they healed were given respect and caring because they saw healing as a three way agreement between healer, the Divine and the person being healed. They viewed healing as an active choice. Today some feel concepts of wholeness, partnership and participation are missing in modern medicine. In truth, anyone with intention to heal can heal. Anyone with intention can be healed by choosing well-being. By learning and using the ancient skills of healing, many dis-eases of the body, emotions, mind and spirit are preventable or are easily transformed. The skills of the ancient healers are available, powerful and very much alive right now. Please use these tools, they are a gift. The basic understandings needed to participate in healing transactions are detailed in this chapter. CHAKRAS and CRYSTALS WHAT ARE CHAKRAS? The word “charka” is derived from Sanskrit and means “wheel”. Visualize the chakras as wheels of energy continuously revolving or rotating. Clairvoyants perceive chakras as colorful wheels or flowers with a central hub. The chakras begin at the base of the spine and finish over the top of the head. Though fixed in the central spinal column they are located on both the front and back of the body, and are connected through the body. Each chakra vibrates and rotates at a different speed. The “root “or first chakra at the base of the spine rotates at the slowest speed while the “crown” or seventh chakra at the top of the head spins the fastest. Each chakra is stimulated by its own and complimentary colors. f. The chakra colors are of the rainbow. From “root” to “crown” they are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The size and brightness of the chakra wheels vary with individual development, physical condition, energy levels, disease or stress level. If chakra rotation is not balanced, or if the energy is blocked, the basic life force in the body will slow down. The individual may feel listless, tired, out of sorts or depressed. Not only will physical bodily functions be affected so “dis-eases” may manifest, but the thought processes and emotional processes can also be affected. A negative attitude, fear, anxiety or doubt may preoccupy the individual. A constant balance between the chakras promotes health and a sense of well being. If the chakras are opened too wide, a person could literally short circuit themselves because too much universal energy is going through the body. If the chakras are closed, the universal energy is unable to flow through them properly leading to “dis-ease.” Most people react to unpleasant experiences by blocking out feelings thus stopping a great deal of natural energy flow. This affects the maturation and development of the chakras. Whenever a person blocks an experience, the charkas in turn become blocked and can eventually become disfigured. When the chakras function normally, each will be “open” and free to spin clockwise metabolizing whatever particular energies are needed from the universal energy field. '” Imbalances” that exist in any chakra may have profound effects upon either the physical or emotional being or both. In crystal healing the use of quartz crystals and gemstones re-balances all the chakric centers. Once the chakra has been properly balanced, the body will gradually return to normal. The reason why crystals and gemstones are wonderful and powerful healing tools is what science calls its “piezoelectric effect.” (This effect can be observed in the modern quartz watch) Because crystals and gemstones respond to the electricity that courses through the body, if the energy is sluggish, the constant electrical vibrations of the stones will bring harmony, balance and stimulation to those energies. THE SEVEN MAJOR CHAKRAS “ROOT” CHAKRA This chakra is located at the base of the spine at the tailbone in back and the pubic bone in front. This center holds the basic needs for survival, security and safety. The “root” chakra is powerfully related to humanity’s contact with the Earth Mother, providing the ability to be grounded into the earth plane. This is the center of manifestation. Efforts to make things happen in the material world, in business or with material possessions; use the energy that comes from the first chakra to succeed. If this chakra is blocked an individual may feel fearful, anxious, insecure and frustrated. Problems like obesity, anorexia nervosa, and knee weakness are common. Root charka is tied to body parts including the hips, legs, lower back and reproductive organs. The colors used for this chakra are red, brown and black. Some gemstones are Garnet, Smoky Quartz, Onyx and Black Tourmaline. ONYX GARNET NOTE: A man's reproductive organs are located primarily in his first chakra, so male sexual energy is usually experienced primarily as physical. A woman's reproductive organs are located primarily in the second chakra, so female sexual energy is usually experienced primarily as emotional. Both chakras are associated with sexual energy. “SACRAL” CHAKRA The second chakra is centered in the belly. It is located two inches below the navel and is rooted into the lower spine. This center holds the basic needs for creativity, intuition, self esteem and sexuality. This chakra is also important for all emotional responses. It governs a person’s sense of self-worth, confidence in one’s own creativity, and the ability to relate to others in an open and friendly way. It's influenced by past imprints of how emotions were expressed or repressed in the family during childhood. Proper balance in this chakra brings the ability to flow with emotions freely and to feel and reach out to others on all levels of love and affection... If this chakra is blocked, a person can feel emotionally explosive, manipulative, obsessed with thoughts of sex or conversely may lack sexual energy. Physical problems may include kidney weakness, stiff lower back, constipation, and muscle spasms. Body parts affected are sexual organs in women, kidneys, bladder and the large intestine. The main color used with this chakra is orange. Its gemstones include Carnelian Agate, Orange Calcite and Tiger Eye. Tiger Eye “SOLAR PLEXUS” The third chakra is referred to as the “Solar Plexus.” It is located two inches below the breastbone in the center behind the stomach. This chakra is the center of personal power and strength but also the place of ego, passion, impulse and anger. It is also the center for astral influences, receptivity of spirit guides and for intuitive development. When the “Solar Plexus” is out of balance there may be lack confidence, confusion, worry about what others think, feelings that others are control one’s life and depressive mood. The body parts for this chakra include the stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, and small intestine. Physical manifestations may include digestive difficulties, liver problems, diabetes, nervous exhaustion and food sensitivities. When it becomes in balance, feelings turn positive, happy, outgoing, self-respecting, expressive, joyful to take on new challenges, and full of a strong sense of personal power. The main color for this chakra is yellow. Some stones used in healing are Citrine, Topaz and Yellow Calcite YYellow Calcite. “HEART” CHAKRA The “heart” chakra is the fourth chakra. Its location is behind the breast bone in front and on the spine between the shoulder blades on back. This is the charka for love, compassion and spirituality. This center directs one's ability to love themselves and others and to give and to receive love. This is also the center connecting body and mind with spirit. Almost everyone today has had their hearts hurt or broken or hardened. It is no accident that heart disease is the number one killer in America today. When this chakra is out of balance, a person may feel self-pity, paranoia, indecision, possessiveness, fear of hurt, and unworthiness. Deep heart hurts can result in obstructions called heart scars that surround and invade the chakra. When these scars are released, they do raise a lot of old pain but in turn free the heart for healing and new growth. When this chakra is balanced you may feel compassionate, friendly, empathetic, desire to nurture others and see the good in everyone. Physical illnesses include heart attack, high blood pressure, insomnia, and difficult in breathing. Body parts for the fourth chakra include heart, lungs, circulatory system, shoulders, and upper back. The main colors used in healing are pink and green. Stones include Rose Quartz, Kunzite, and Watermelon tourmaline. ROSE QUARTZ “THROAT” CHAKRA The fifth chakra is located in the V of the collarbone at the lower neck and is the center of communication, sound, and expression of creativity using the mind, the voice and the pen. The possibility for change, transformation and healing are found in this center... The throat stores anger and the throat can release it. When this chakra is out of balance one may want to hold back, feel timid and weak; be quiet, or unable to express thoughts. Body parts for the fifth chakra are throat, neck, teeth, ears and thyroid gland. Physical illnesses or ailments include hyper and hypothyroidism, skin irritation, ear infections, sore throat and inflammation and back pain. When this chakra is balanced self expression and confidence in the ability to create and communicate is strong. Body parts for the fifth chakra are throat, neck, teeth, ears, and thyroid gland. The main color used is light blue. Popular stones are Aquamarine, green Jade and Azurite. JADE “The Third Eye” The Third Eye is located above the physical eyes on the center of the forehead. This is the chakra for psychic development, higher intuition and the energies of spirit and light. It also assists in the purification of negative tendencies and in the elimination of selfishness. Through the power of the sixth charka comes guidance and an opportunity to communicate with one’s Higher Self. When this chakra is open and balanced, the courage and curiosity to investigate and experience telepathy or past life imprints may arise. Unbalanced, this chakra may feed issues of timidity, fear of success or go the opposite way toward self-protective egotism. AMETHYST Sixth chakra body parts include the eyes, face, and brain, lymphatic and endocrine system. Physical manifestations may include headaches, blurred vision or eyestrain and in severe cases, blindness. The main colors are purple and dark blue. Some gemstones are Amethyst, Sodalite, and Lapis Lazuli “CROWN” CHAKRA The seventh chakra is referred to as the “Crown.” It is located just behind the top of the skull. It is the center of all dynamic thought and energy that fosters spirituality and enlightenment. It brings the gift of cosmic consciousness and allows the inward flow of wisdom. This is also the center of connectedness with the Divine. The soul comes into the body through the crown at birth and leaves from the crown at death. This charka is the place where life animates the physical body. Balanced energy in this chakra includes an ability to open up to the Divine and the self with total access to the unconscious and subconscious. When this chakra is unbalanced there may be a constant sense of frustration and destructive feelings. Nothing sparks joy. Indications include migraine headaches and depression. The main colors for the crown are white and purple. Some stones are Amethyst, Clear Quartz Crystal or Oregon Opal Clear quartz Crystal and Oregon Opal. CLEANSING and CLEARING GEMSTONES AND CRYSTALS Sometimes one is strongly drawn to a crystal or gemstone, but the drawing energy is negative. As well, a stone that felt good previously can begin to loose its positive energy. Crystals and healing gemstones need to be cleansed and cleared as soon as they are purchased as well as after every healing. The clearer the energy of a healing stone, the more powerful it is. A cleared, ready crystal feels positive and bright, tingly and cold to the touch. A crystal that needs cleaning may feel hot, heavy or drained. There are a number of ways to effectively clean and clear crystals and gemstones. 1. SMUDGING- A quick way to cleanse healing stones is to smudge them with burning cedar or sage. Smudging is an excellent way to make sure they are purified. Simply hold the burning sage or cedar stick while passing the stone through the smoke. Speak a cleansing prayer appeal. 2. MOONLIGHT- Moonlight clears gemstones. Speak a cleansing prayer appeal while placing them outside from the Full to the New Moon every cycle. In addition, put them in moonlight any time that is influenced by the sensitivity of the healer and the amount of material from which the stone needs cleansing. (Some people use sunlight for clearing but many stones tend to fade color in the sun. Also internal fractures may cause a stone to crack or break.) 3. CLEASNING BURIAL- Always speak a cleansing prayer appeal during a burial ceremony. Bury crystals in sea salt for a twenty-four hour period. Crystals can also be buried in a cupful of dried herbs. Suggested herbs are rose petals, sage, frankincense, myrrh and sandalwood. This is a gentle way to clear crystals, but it does take longer than sea salt. Always bury crystals point down. Crystals may also be buried into the Earth. This is especially helpful for deep cleansing. Dig a hole the size of the crystals into the ground, place them point down, and cover with soil. Be sure to place a marker to insure finding those stones again!!! For apartment dwellers, use a flower pot to bury crystals. 4. Use SACRED BREATH- Some like to use the method of 'blowing away' any negativity from the stone by simply holding the stone and blowing on it with the intention of asking one’s Higher Self and the Connected Divine to cleanse it.. {In a hurry and need to clear healing stones? Run them under cool tap water making certain that the points are facing down the drain to run the negative energy right down the sink! Visualize the crystal as sparkly, tingly, cold and ready for healing and offer a cleansing prayer appeal. NEVER USE WARM OR HOT WATER, THIS WILL FRACTURE OR BREAK CRYSTALS. } PROGRAMMING AND DEDICATING STONES After selecting and clearing a gemstone or crystal, it is a good idea to dedicate or program it. The purpose of dedicating the stone to a high level healing energy or to one’s Divine is to protect it from negative energy. The purpose of programming a crystal or gemstone is to focus its abilities on something specifically need by magnifying the stone's intent through one’s own intent, meditation and prayer. A crystal or stone that is programmed and dedicated becomes much more powerful and useful as a tool. To prevent any negative energy from attaching itself to the crystal you dedicate it. Hold the crystal or gemstone and state clearly: "Only the most positive high-level energy may work through this healing tool". Focus on that intention for awhile, then end the “sensing” (meditation) session with "And so it is.” The stone is now dedicated. Programming is very simple process. Hold the crystal or gemstone and sense its energy. Because the stone is newly cleared, the energy will feel stronger and more appealing that before. Sense this energy and appreciate it, ask quietly to be connected to the soul of the crystal or gemstone. Though not animate, stones are living pieces of the earth and the soul of the piece is its life-force energy. Think of the stone’s intended purpose and visualize its use. Quietly ask the gemstone if it is willing to act in the way intended. The crystal’s energy may increase in affirmation or diminish with reluctance. If the stone accepts the intention, pray that it be so. Once a stone is programmed, it will hold its intent until it is rededicated and programmed. LAYING ON OF STONES The technique of using crystals and gemstones on a receiver's body for healing is called laying on of stones. It is a powerful method to cleanse negative energy, clear and balance the chakras, effect emotional release and bring light and healing. Cleared, programmed, and dedicated stones move the receiver's vibration into alignment with planetary and universal energies. This results in freeing life force energy to balance the charkas that can bring about and a transformation negative or dis-ease into ease and well being. The process may be done with clear quartz crystals only, colored gemstones only, a combination of both or with stones of the charka colors. The stones can be in any form—faceted, raw, tumbled, eggs or beads. The stones may be used alone but are greatly enhanced with the focus of healing energy as in the practice of Reiki. The stones are placed upon the receiver's body in one of two orders: from head to feet or from feet to head. Sky to Earth: The Reiki practitioner places the stones from head to feet, and then begins to channel healing energy also at the top of the head moving toward the feet. Energy in this type of healing moves in one direction through the body, from Earth to sky. When earth to sky energy, with all the gemstones placed with the points turned towards the receiver's toes, moves healing life force energy from crown to feet it seeks grounding and rooting into Earth. Earth to Sky: This direction moves life force energy from feet to crown drawing the receiver's energy to a higher vibration or more spiritual level. The gemstones are placed with points toward the receiver’s crown. The practitioner heals from feet to crown to move the grounded receiver’s life force toward connection with the Divine. A laying on of stones healing can be very intense. Often major energy shifts occur bringing frequent emotional releases, past life and this life trauma openings and other transformative events. A healer’s role in a session is to wait for the release to end and remain entirely non-judgmental. After a session, there may also be a physical detoxification process that releases dis-ease. When dis-ease is released, a receiver will mentally re-experience symptoms but the unpleasant experience is short lived. Each re-experience should be met by the receiver in the spirit of welcome and farewell as it passes. The changes that follow are positive. BIBLIOGRAPHY Brennen, Barbara Ann, Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing through the Human Energy Field. New York; Bantam Books, 1987. Gardner, Joy, Color and Crystals; A Journey through the Chakras. C California; The Crossing Press, 1988. Melody, Love is in the Earth; A Kaleidoscope of Crystals. Colorado; Earth-Love Publishing House, 1995. Stein, Diane, Healing with Crystals and Gemstones. California: The Crossing Press, 1996. Stein, Diane, The Women's Book of Healing. Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 1987. Religious or “Spiritual” Humanism: The definition of religion used by religious humanists is a functional one. Religion is that which serves the personal and social needs of a group of people sharing the same philosophical world view. To serve personal needs, religious humanism offers a basis for moral values, an inspiring set of ideals, methods for dealing with life's harsher realities, a rationale for living life joyously, and an overall sense of purpose. To serve social needs, humanist religious communities offer a sense of belonging, an institutional setting for the moral education of children, special holidays shared with like-minded people, a unique ceremonial life, the performance of ideologically consistent rites of passage (weddings, child welcomings, coming-of-age celebrations, funerals, and so forth), an opportunity for affirmation of one's philosophy of life, and a historical context for one's ideas. Religious humanists maintain that most human beings have personal and social needs that can only be met by religion (taken in the functional sense just detailed). They do not feel that one should have to make a choice between meeting these needs in a traditional faith context versus not meeting them at all. Individuals who cannot feel at home in traditional religion should be able to find a home in non-traditional religion. Does this functional definition of religion amount to taking away the substance and leaving only the superficial trappings? No, the true substance of religion is the role it plays in the lives of individuals and the life of the community. Doctrines may differ from denomination to denomination, and new doctrines may replace old ones, but the purpose religion serves for PEOPLE remains the same. If we define the substance of a thing as that which is most lasting and universal, then the function of religion is the core of it. Religious humanists, in realizing this, make sure that doctrine is never allowed to subvert the higher purpose of meeting human needs in the here and now. This is why humanist child welcoming ceremonies are geared to the community and humanist wedding services are tailored to the specialized needs of the wedding couple. This is why humanist memorial services focus, not on saving the soul of the dear departed, but on serving the survivors by giving them a memorable experience related to how the deceased was in life. This is why Humanists don't proselytize people on their death beds. They find it better to allow them to die as they have lived, undisturbed by the agendas of others. Finally, religious humanism is "faith in action." Christian Humanism is defined by Webster's Third New International Dictionary as "a philosophy advocating the self- fulfillment of man within the framework of Christian principles." themselves as humanist in the modern sense. What is Christ-centered Spiritual Humanism? It is a religious practice based on the ability of human beings to understand society and solve its problems using logic and scientific method within the framework of an understanding of the Christ consciousness. What is Christ-consciousness? "Even the least among you can do as I have done."- Jesus Most people seek God or Christ, as external entities that act upon them and their lives, to help guide them through life's challenges and difficult moral decisions in a time of crisis. Although it is possible to discover answers in the midst of strife and suffering, this is God's least desired way. Yet, it is a common human path because so many never turn toward that external God until they are suffering and thus are operating emotionally and, sometimes, irrationally. However, if people employ consistent disciplined and selflessly motivated quests for the discovery and practice of Christ's nature and teachings that they seek to manifest in themselves, at all times, not just particularly when faced with challenges, an empowering pathway becomes accessible to calm, disciplined and rational scientific minds. Recognizing how the power of religious rituals, methods, and communication can impact human behavior, Christ-centered spiritual humanism fuses traditional Christian religious behaviors onto the foundation of scientific humanist inquiry. Practioners seek to understand anew the underlying significance and meaning of the tenants and practices of their faith as persons fully participating inside these transactions as co-creators rather than as persons who are observing them from the outside or having them enacted upon them. By using a method of scientific inquiry they can define and own heightened appreciations of the Christ power that is the inspirational divine spark inherent and available to all who will embrace and nurture it. Meditation It has been said that in prayer we are offered the opportunity to talk to the Divine; through meditation we are offered the opportunity to hear God talk to us. How to Meditate: Get in a comfortable sitting position in a quiet place. It is preferable to try and have your spine straight, but do what is comfortable. (It is not always good to lie down, as this may make you sleepy. But again, do what works for you.) Make sure you have at least 15 minutes of undisturbed time to get totally relaxed. Some use music during meditation while others prefer silence. The key is to create an environment where you will not be distracted. Close your eyes. For a minute or so just breathe and pay attention to your breath. Breathe in and out. Focus on the sound, smell, and feeling of the air that circulates through your body as your lungs expand and contract as you inhale and exhale. If thoughts or images enter your mind, dismiss them and let them go as friends you will greet at another time. Always return your focus to breathing. Once your breath has become even, deep and calming, begin to concentrate on the “screen” that appears before your closed eyes. If the purpose of your meditation is relaxation, begin to visualize your ideal of a relaxing environment. Walk through a forest, sit by a waterfall, recline on a soft silk bed by playing it on the screen. Go deeper and begin to hear the leaves rustle, the water pour or the sheets softly caress your body. Smell the wildflowers, the sweet moss or the perfume of the room. Remain focused until you feel the release of tension and a peace engulf you. Bring yourself gently back by retracing your steps, leaving the water, or rising slowly from the bed; don’t jerk yourself back to reality. If you are meditating to find resolution to any matter or question, after you have accomplished the breath focus of your session, repeat your query ten times in the same words and then just be silent and breathe. Be aware of the thoughts or words that come to your mind. From them may come your answers. Religious Observance For Christ-centered spiritual humanists there are three major days of religious observance and celebration: Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. Observing holidays is a tradition intertwined with spirituality. Here are some astronomical events that have been used to mark holy days in many different religions for thousands of years. Celebrating these events recognizes both the continuity of humanity over thousands of years and how much we have progressed from the simple agrarians who depended upon astronomical sightings for their survival. Winter Solstice The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, with the sun at its lowest and weakest. In the Northern Hemisphere it usually occurs around December 21st. In pagan Scandinavia the winter festival was the Yule, celebrated by burning the hearth fires of the magically significant Yule log. In the Celtic Druid culture, the Winter Solstice was celebrated by hanging sacred mistletoe over a doorway or in a room to offer goodwill to visitors. Germanic tribes decorated a pine or fir tree with candles and tokens. The Inca held midwinter ceremonies at temples that served as astronomical observatories like Machu Pichu. Romans celebrated this event with Saturnalia, a festival of merrymaking, and decorating their homes and temples with holly and evergreens. Also popular in Rome was the exchange of small gifts thought to bring luck to the recipient. In the fourth century AD, Christian authorities in Rome attempted to eliminate the pagan festivities by adopting December 25th as Christ’s birthday. The effort was never completely successful, and eventually many Winter Solstice customs were incorporated into Christmas observances. Spring Equinox Spring or Vernal Equinox, also known as Ostara, Easter, and St. Patrick's Day, occurs in the middle of March in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the beginning of spring and the time when days and nights are of equal length. Megalithic people on Europe’s Atlantic fringe calculated the date of the Spring Equinox using circular monuments constructed of huge stones. Germanic tribes associated it with the fertility goddess Ostara. The Mayans of Central America still gather at the pyramid at Chichen Itza which was designed to produce a "serpent" shadow on the Spring Equinox. The Ancient Saxons held a feast day for their version of the fertility goddess, Eostre, on the full moon following the Vernal Equinox. Eostre is associated with the symbols of decorated eggs and hares. Ancient influences from the worship of the goddess Ostara or Eostre have persisted in the form of fertility symbols of Easter eggs and the hare or rabbit in the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, Easter. By the use of these symbols of spring, rebirth, and fertility we reinforce our connection to humanity's past. Fall Equinox In the Northern Hemisphere the Autumnal Equinox, occurs around September 23rd or 24th. It is also known as Michaelmas, Mabon, and Harvest Home. Traditionally, the Japanese marked the spring and fall Equinox with higan, a seven day period in which they remember their ancestors by visiting the family grave, cleaning the tombstone, offering flowers and food, burning incense sticks and praying. The Polish Feast of Greenery involves bringing bouquets and foods for blessing by a priest, then using them for medicine or keeping them until the following year’s harvest. Romans celebrated the Fall Equinox that was dedicated to Pomona, goddess of fruits and growing things. A feast was celebrated with a traditional well fattened goose which had fed well on the stubble of the fields after the harvest. Another tradition of the Autumnal Equinox is the use of ginger. All manner of foods seasoned with ginger are part of the day's menu from gingerbread to ginger beer. In England, the last sheaf of corn harvested represented the `spirit of the field' and was made into a doll. Corn dolls were drenched with water representing rain or burned to represent the death of the grain spirit. Large wickerwork figures were also constructed to represent a vegetation spirit and burnt in mock sacrifice. Farmers and merchants gathered at fairs. Often a large glove was suspended above the fair, symbolizing the handshake of promises and openhandedness and generosity. The celebration of harvest was imported to America and is now celebrated on Thanksgiving Day. SACRAMENTS Baptism Baptism by water and the Spirit, as recorded in Scriptures, is a sign of the dedication of each life to God and God's Service. Through the words and acts of this sacrament, the recipient, in infancy, childhood or adulthood, is identified as God's own Child in infancy. Holy Communion Holy Communion is the partaking of blessed bread and fruit of the vine in accordance with the words of Jesus, our Sovereign: "This is my body ... this is my blood". All who believe confess and repent and seek God's love through Christ, after examining their consciences, may freely participate in the communal meal. RITES The Rite of Commitment The rite of Commitment is the spiritual joining of two persons in a manner fitting and proper by a duly authorized Pastor of the church. After both persons have been counselled and informed of their responsibilities one towards the other, this rite of conferring God's blessing may be performed. The Rite of Funeral/Memorial Service The Rite of Funeral or Memorial Service is to be fittingly conducted by the Pastor of the church for the deceased. The Rite of Laying-on of Hands The Rite of Laying-on of Hands or prayer for the healing of the sick in mind, body or spirit is to be conducted by the ministers of the church and their appointees, at their discretion, and upon request using the Reiki modality. What is Reiki? Principles of Healing Healing is not the popular conception of removal of symptoms. Reiki healing seeks full and complete resolution of the causes of a dis-ease; physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Such healing is returning to a state of alignment with one’s Higher Self or true way of being. How It's Done In its simplest form using Reiki is simply the practitioner’s prayerful placing of their hands on the recipient with the intent of bringing healing by putting themselves aside in order that God given Reiki energy can flow through them to the recipient. There is a set of hand positions traditionally taught which give good coverage over the recipient’s entire body. It is not necessary to follow those positions, they are merely taught as a starting position from which the practitioner can learn. If there is a specific area of concern the practitioner can keep his/her hands right there for as long as necessary. Some practitioners employ the healing powers of nature found in stones and minerals to heighten the strength of Reiki’s healing energy. The Rite of Blessing The Rite of Blessing may be conducted by the ministers of the church for persons, things and relationships, when deemed appropriate by the ministers. This includes the dedication of a church building to the Glory of God. Learned Optimism Learned optimism is the decision to live one’s life with a focus on positive occurrences and outcomes. For Christ-centered spiritual humanists it is a way of thought and a call to action that concentrates on building strengths and creating foundations for success through the practice of Christian faith and the direction of behaviors that will accomplish the greatest good for both the individual and the whole of humankind. The positive psychology movement calls this optimistic lifestyle that accentuates positive thinking and acting the “good life.” What is the ‘good life’? As psychology at the millennium begins to take the building of the best things in life as seriously as it has taken the healing of the worst, more of a science regarding what constitutes “a good life” is needed than presently exists. The main purpose of a positive psychology is to measure, understand and then build the human strengths and the civic virtues. But to begin there is a need to know what the individual strengths and the civic virtues are—the positive traits that transcend particular cultures and politics and approach universality. Positive psychology needs taxonomy: a listing of items to be considered in the category. Taxonomies do not float in a vacuum. Rather, they serve a purpose. Clothing, for example, can be categorized by style for designers, by cost for shoppers or by weight for shippers, depending on the purpose of the inquiry. The main purpose of taxonomy for positive psychology is to guide the formulation and building of the “good life.” The “good life” does not mean a Mercedes, fine wine and sun drenched beaches. For Christ-centered spiritual humanists it means a life of peace, joy and good works grounded in a union with the grace and person of Jesus Christ. Here are several ways of casting the questions about the “good life.” Which will be most fruitful for taxonomy appropriate for the Christ-centered spiritual humanist? 1. Traditional. Do our cultural and religious writings, like the Scriptures and philosophies, about self-actualization, about wisdom and about creating an art of life yield taxonomy of the “good life?” 2. Sanity. Mental health professionals categorize mental disorders for the purpose of measurement and treatment. Conversely is there an array of human strengths—the 'sanities'—that as the opposite of the disorders can help lay a foundation for the “good life?” 3. Parental. Beyond those qualities provided by genetic inheritance, what would responsible parents most want to bestow upon their children? 4. Political. To assess across time, culture and political systems how closely a people came to the “good life”, what set of questions would we ask? 5. Self-actualization. If we wanted to know, as we aged and accomplished or failed, how close we were to the “good life”, what would we ask ourselves? 6. Best exemplars. Rather than trying to agree on the elusive dimensions of the “good life”, can we think instead of an array of paradigmatic 'good lives,' e.g., Jesus Christ, Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and measure proximity to such sterling examples? Continual Improvement It has to be recognized that we don't yet have all the answers. The code of human conduct cannot yet be written in stone because we still have much to learn. If we find better ways to think, understand, or explain the world around us we must adopt these methods. Christ-centered spiritual humanism actively seeks to achieve incremental, continual improvement with contributions from the full range of human experience. We also see the need to apply the method of continual improvement to all areas of human activity and seek to manifest this by helping others improve their condition and mode of living. Growth For any movement, especially a religious one, to be successful it must actively be promoted and expanded by its members. Without the persistent efforts of its members, it will flounder and fail. One of the essential tasks of those who recognize the truths disclosed by the methods of Christ-centered spiritual humanism is to help other people discover the validity of these methods for themselves.

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