Continuing our discussion on contemplation, we are drawing from the dialogs between Adam Bucko and myself in our book, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation

Bishop Marc Andrus of Grace Cathedral interviews Matthew Fox and Adam Bucko about Occupy Spirituality.

ADAM BUCKO: Andrew Harvey, in his book The Hope: The Guide to Sacred Activism quotes Jungian analyst Marion Woodman who once said to him that “continuing to do pioneering sacred work in the world as crazy and painful as ours without constantly grounding yourself in sacred practice would be like running into a forest fire dressed only in a paper tutu.”

So, if we are really serious about being authentic and living our lives in service of compassion of justice, if we are really serious about what Woodman calls “sacred work,” we need to get serious about spiritual practice.

Adam Bucko

FOX: What practices do you find helpful in your life?

BUCKO: I was socialized into a spiritual system that taught that meditation is all that is needed in one’s spiritual journey. It was common for my teachers to say, “Just meditate and all will be taken care of.”

I no longer subscribe to that kind of a theology of inner life. In my experience, it is only when I’ve included practices other than meditation that I’ve been able to experience real breakthroughs

FOX:  What did you find most helpful in Andrew Harvey’s book that you referred to earlier?

BUCKO: You mentioned that we can no longer afford to hide our contemplatives in comfortable monasteries and that we need to reunite contemplation and action and mysticism and prophesy.

In the book that I mentioned, Andrew Harvey shares something that I think is really instrumental.  He talks about five kinds of spiritual practice that one needs in order to become a well integrated and wisdom-driven healing presence in the world:

“Cool Practices” are things like simple meditation, walking meditation, and saying the name of God peacefully in the heart as a way of staying grounded and clear-sighted in transcendent peace in the middle of the storms of our world.

Walking meditation may be done anywhere, from a quiet forest to a protest march. Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash

“Warm practices” such as Sufi heart practices, Hinayana Buddhist practices of loving-kindness to all beings, and passionate kirtan and devotional chanting as measures to keep the heart open and pulsing with fire energies of compassion for the world.

“Sacred body practices” such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong, to help us sustain the intensity of service required of us in order to truly incarnate and embody the truth of our calling.

“Prayer Practices” to help us rely on God for guidance and life-giving energy and enable us to face our betrayals and defeats with unconditional trust and courage.

“Shadow practice” or psychotherapy to help us see and deal with all the unconscious, repressed, undeveloped and denied parts of our selves that we tend to externalize and project onto others. It helps us reconcile all of our own inner conflicts, thus avoiding reactive behavior and instead acting with wisdom and integrity.

Adapted from Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation, pp. 118-120.

Banner Image: “Time to Bloom Kirtan: Grupo Sangham conducted the kirtan on September 27, at Tempo de Florescer.” Photo by Tempo de Florescer on Flickr.

Do you find Harvey’s listing of five categories of spiritual practices to be useful?  Which one’s are most helpful to you at this time in your life?  Which do you find most challenging?

Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation

Authors Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox encourage us to use our talents in service of compassion and justice and to move beyond our broken systems–economic, political, educational, and religious–discovering a spirituality that not only helps us to get along, but also encourages us to reevaluate our traditions, transforming them and in the process building a more sacred and just world. Incorporating the words of young activist leaders culled from interviews and surveys, the book provides a framework that is deliberately interfaith and speaks to our profound yearning for a life with spiritual purpose and for a better world.
Occupy Spirituality is a powerful, inspiring, and vital call to embodied awareness and enlightened actions.”
~~ Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist and author of The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

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1 thought on “Contemplative Practices”

  1. Avatar

    I find the categories of the 5 kinds of spiritual practices most helpful. As usual, Matthew Fox provides us with rich information that should provoke deep thought and consideration. I am so grateful for his wisdom.

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