Committing to the Quaker Spiritual Path

Committing to the Quaker Spiritual Path

I think one of the things that many spiritual
traditions share is the teaching that the eye cannot see itself. In order for us to make even the individual
spiritual growth that we desire, it’s necessary to have some other eyes than ours looking
at us objectively and telling us truthfully what they see, or what they don’t see. I’m Lloyd Lee Wilson. I’m a member of Friendship Friends Meeting
in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is part of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative). It is, I think, impossible to get the benefit
of any faith tradition without immersing one’s self in it. I believe like the Sufis that where thee digs
thy well and where I dig my well may be on different creeks, but they come from the same
living water and they flow to the same ocean. I feel that there are in fact many paths to
God, but they are distinct paths. If one is intent on making that journey, the
best way there is to follow the path of the faith tradition thee has chosen. The temptation if we don’t is to avoid those
things we don’t like. If we begin to treat our spiritual growth
as a buffet or a salad bar—we’re only human, we take more than we need of the stuff
we really like and we shy away from the stuff that doesn’t taste good or that gave us
heartburn. But it is the nature of the faith journey
that it’s often those things that we don’t like the taste of that are making the growth
in us that we need in order to go forward. We live in an age of rampant individualism. It’s all around us, we breathe it in with
every breath. I think that one of the hardest things about
committing to the Quaker faith tradition is exchanging that individualism for a sense
of corporate discernment and corporate wisdom. We go through our meetings and we’re asking,
“My meeting is not giving me the things that I need for my spiritual journey.” It’s a question that I hear all the time. But I think that the real question–the question
that will help us more–is to ask, “How can I be the member my meeting needs me to
be in order to do the spiritual work God has given it to do?” So to make that switch first of all requires
a great deal of courage. To give up the fact that I’m going to be
my own defense here, I’m going to look out for myself and be responsible for my own spiritual
journey. It takes a lot of trust to feel safe and secure,
to feel that yes, these people are seeking to discern God’s will, that together we
can discern it better and I have nothing to fear. That’s very hard, very hard. Quakerism has not been a perfect journey for
me. I have never sat down in the perfect Quaker
meeting and never expect to. But even those difficult places are places
where we grow and we grow as a community. So that’s the concept I’ve been trying
to articulate in my writings and my talkings about Quakerism: that it’s not a salad bar
situation. You have to step inside of the tradition:
commit to the tradition. Commit to something larger than yourself and
then you begin to understand, “OK, this it the part of the tradition that’s real
for me, I can take this in.” But you can’t stand outside the tradition
and even understand it, much less critique it.

10 Replies to “Committing to the Quaker Spiritual Path”

  1. This video deeply resonates. When I was student and visiting Hong Kong, a Philosophy of Religion professor told a small group of us, "there are many paths to the summit of the mountain, but you have to choose one."

  2. I find the tricky part is understanding how to immerse yourself in Quakerism, particularly given the unprogrammed nature of meetings. The lack of preaching is welcome, but it comes with a certain lack of direction that's challenging. These videos are a big help, though.

  3. This is certainly interesting, and… I also love this recent article from Friends Journal:
    The author speaks of "stealth worshippers": They do not believe in the truth of their denomination’s doctrinal statements, but they continue to find meaning through membership in the faith community of their heritage. While stealth worshipers secretly reject the superstitions and dogma of their inherited religion, they still find meaning in participating in services and practices that express awe and gratitude, and they find meaning in the communal sharing and activities of the organization.

    By comparison, "A profound difference I experienced at Indianapolis First Friends Meeting was that there was no need for stealth. Howard, the atheist; Duffy, the outspoken evangelical‐fundamentalist; and Daud, the Muslim, were all very active and beloved members of the meeting…."

    I think this makes for an interesting counterpoint to our Friend Lloyd Lee Wilson's prescription "that it’s not a salad bar situation". What I love about both unprogrammed and programmed Quakerism is that BOTH have the same processes in their Business Meetings. As the early church leader John Chrysostom (349-407) said: "A comprehended God is no God". We all bring our own personal/family/community/national/historical "traditions" into our Meetings. What I believe we are trying to attain is "What exactly is Spirit asking of US right now?" I can START with trying to discern what is Spirit asking of ME, but in the end I need to be open to the "Spirit of the Meeting".

    This also should be the foundation of any Executive (Cabinet) meeting in a democracy.

  4. I find Quaker's to be the truest examples of Christian's the United States has ever produced. I went to a couple of meetings in Alaska years ago. I was going through a dark time though, and I felt guilty bringing my sins into the room. Maybe someday I'll be able to try again.

  5. As a student of many years of Islam and the mystical tradition, once flowering within it, and now withering inside it, such wise friendly talk lifts up a heavy heart.

  6. I just want to say this video had an impact on me. He basically laid out the concept of the third eye (that looks inward towards the self/mind, but remains closed for almost all of us), and then went on to use an analogy borrowed from Sufism. I had to stop the video and think for a moment about how wonderful this guy is. It's a beautiful message that even Billy Graham shared years ago that started my journey of exploring religions and seeking ultimate truth. There are different paths that lead to the same place, and he is so right that one must at least choose a path. I'm at a point in my life where I've grown weary of local sanghas and megachurches that appear to be 98% in the world. There is something to be said for the full commitment to a path. I have no idea what to expect from my local Quaker group, but I know it is a path of non-violence and non-dogma, based on what I've read. I believe I'll give it a try this weekend.

  7. Beloved Quaker brothers and sisters,
    There is only ONLY ONE PATH (return) to God and it was delivered the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles.The Holy Spirit delivered 85 Holy Apostolic canons with which the Apostles creaded His Church everywhere in the world for the Salvation of all man kind!

    God's instruction for manifesting Him self to man is very simple to understand.

    [John 14:21] “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him”.

    He who gives all wisdom is He who we are united with during Holy Baptism. Ierotheos Metropolitan of Naupaktos about Greek Orthodox Baptism

    “Through the "rite of birth in God", Holy Baptism, man's nous (mind) is illuminated, freed from slavery to sin and the devil, and is united with God.

    It is only Lord Jesus who can give man the spirit of wisdom and Revelation in the knowledge of Him and the knowledge of His inheritance to His Saints !

    [1 Ephesians 17-18} That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

    According to the Holy Fathers ~The mind of the MIND~ is the CONSIENCE. Furthermore man was created so that his MIND (body) to be with his HEART/psyche to be ONE and the same thing. ~It could not be any other way for it is only the heart/soul (everything that a person is) that will represent man after death and after the soul leaves the body. A healthy state of mind preconditions a healthy heart . The heart however without Baptism that redeems all sin is ill begotten. [Matthew 15-19] “FOR OUT OF THE HEART PROCEED EVIL THOUGHTS MURDERS ADULTERIES FORNICATIONS THEFTS FALSE WITNESS BLASPHEMIES” Furthermore vainglory, ego, envy, hatred, lustiness stinginess and greed are equally strong passions that siege the heart (self-will) and force the mind (body) in the un natural act of sin.

    There is no higher happiness than man becoming worthy to know God personally to accept the Holy Spirit with in! (1 Corinthians 3 :16) Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God”? [2 Corinthians: 4:6]. “God makes His Light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ. The coming of Lord Jesus ans the creation of His Church was in order to aid man purify his heart in oder to enable I this way back to the presence of I creator God! [Mathew 5:8] Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”.

    Lord Jesus did not come to teach philosophically but THERAPEUTICALLY.

    If the word Salvation does not include the return to the presence of God…what good is it?

    The vision of Divine Light

    This is what Lord Jesus told St. Symeon when He became worthy to His presence in His Divine Light.

    “It is me, God, Who became man for you; and behold that I have made you, as you see, and shall make you god”.

    Greek Orthodox by country

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