Monday, February 25, 2013

In The Beginning: Meditation in Genesis 1.

"In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of Elohim was over the waters.  Then Elohim said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."  Genesis 1: 1-3

This creation account in Genesis 1 tells an amazing story.  The earth is a wasteland, formless and void.  Then Elohim speaks, and suddenly things come into being.  "And Elohim sees it is very good!" 

What can this teach us about Meditation?  Consider this:  What is speech?  We might see speech as an extension of thought; concentrated and focused thought.  Before you speak, you probably think about what you are going to say.  There is a thought process that goes on, however basic, as we engage ourselves in the process of speech.  In the Genesis text we might see the process going something like this:  Elohim has a profound Thought about Creation.  Elohim focuses that Thought and collapses It into physical reality.  He/She Thinks in a skilled and focused way, Speaks the thought which becomes thought in action, and it all comes into being.  This can be seen as a form of Meditation. 

In Meditation we focus our thoughts and concentrate on just one simple thing.  As our thoughts become more focused we come to a more conscious awareness of our own being, and our connection to Universal Consciousness as well.  Slowly, over time, what we concentrate on comes into being.  This is our perspective of things.  With Elohim the process is much more centered, potent, and profound.  The Thought is focused, the Word is spoken, the deed is done - no time lapse required.  Indeed the creation account of Genesis 1 can be seen as an account of the most perfect Meditation session in the Universe; the time beyond time in which the Heavens and the Earth were spoken (Thought) into existence!


Frater Ralph

Jesus And Meditation: Matthew 1: 1-17. The Jewish Roots

"A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham...."  -See Matthew 1: 1-17

I know what you are thinking:  What can a genealogical record (and a disputed one at that) tell us about Jesus and Meditation?  Plenty!  This genealogical record tells us how the early Messianic Jewish community being addressed in Matthew's Gospel viewed both Jesus and itself.  It also puts us squarely in touch with the Jewish roots of one Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus called Christ in Matthew), and challenges us to seek out the Jewish roots of Meditation.

Most Christians tend to see Jesus as just springing up out of nowhere creating the Christian Church from scratch.  Actually Jesus was the product of generations of Jewish thought and practice.  Sadly this history is lost on the average church goer who lacks a basic background on Judaism.  Yet it is important to go back and form a basic understanding at this point.

The genealogy presented here in Matthew 1:1-17 gives us 42 generations of Jesus' family tree.  How many families do you know of can go back 42 generations in their own history?  Probably not very many.  The average person in today's world is doing good to know who their own fathers and mothers were, and then perhaps their grandparents and great grandparents.  Pushing the family history back beyond that would likely take a computer and a genealogical website.  We are simply not as connected to our roots today as people were in ancient societies.

The same can be said for our religious history and our church histories.  Most church goers would know whether or not they like their current pastor, but they may be at a loss as to what their church doctrine is and where in fact it came from.  Lutherans would probably say their doctrine came from Martin Luther who rediscovered the Bible during the Protestant Reformation.  Calvinists would say the same about their doctrines and John Calvin.  But do they know the history connecting themselves back to the teachings of Jesus, and the teachings of Jesus back to early Jewish tradition?  Most, even scholars, would have a difficult time at this task.  In fact, for many, it remains a work in progress.

About three years ago I began to wonder if Jesus practiced Meditation.  I had been a scripture student for over 30 years, yet I had missed the Biblical texts pertaining to Meditation.  I did some research and found a surprising mix on the topic of Jesus and Meditation.  Some theologians thought Jesus did in fact practice Meditation (a camp I am firmly in), and others thought that Meditation was "of the devil;"  a practice that found it's way into the West via Buddhism and Hinduism, and which had no firm foundation in either the Christian or Jewish Scriptures.  I think we will now begin to see that if these latter theologians had a firmer grasp of their own religious history, their conclusions would be completely different.

Meditation has a sound history in both Scripture and Jewish practice.  In Genesis 24: 63 we read concerning Isaac, "He went out to the field one evening to meditate..."  Also in Joshua 1: 8 it is written, "Do not let this Book of the Law (Torah) depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night..."  The Psalms of David likewise speak to Meditation.  Psalm 48: 9 states, "Within Your temple, O God, we meditate on Your unfailing love."  Psalm 77:12, "I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds."  And finally Psalm 119: 15, "I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways."  This is just a sampling.  There is much more, especially if one digs deeper.

Jewish practice over the years has preserved the meditation practice, for those who have the eyes to see.  The Jewish Sabbath, long taught by Christians to be only a day of restriction upon which work was prohibited, is actually much more than that.  The Sabbath is actually set aside as a special day for prayer, Torah study, and Meditation.  True no work can be done (except in an emergency) because the time has been set aside for a more noble pursuit and discipline.  Far from being a burden, the Sabbath can be seen as an opportunity for Spiritual growth; a day of Meditation one can use on a weekly basis.  And this is not the end; only the beginning!

Back in the 1960's and into the 1970's both Christian and Jewish institutions in the West faced a growing problem:  Their young people, influenced by The Beatles and the practice of TM, began leaving their churches and synagogues to seek meditation instructors in Buddhist Sangas and Hindu Ashrams.  They had so completely forgotten their own religious and spiritual roots that they felt they had to forsake the ways of their ancestors (the ways that even their own parents and grandparents had forgotten over the centuries) to embrace Meditation as if it were something brand new.  Sadly, this need not have been the case.  I am grateful that the meditative tradition was keep alive in the East, even as it had been forgotten by most of the religious West.  If this had not been the case Meditation might likely had been reserved as a discipline set aside only for the elite few who still had enough of their roots intact to know what the practice entailed.  But this has not been the case.  Indeed we are fortunate to live in a day and an age in which this most ancient practice is now being rediscovered by many in both East and West alike.  A day and age in which all peoples, regardless of their religion, can come together to share their experience and help to guide one another along the way.  We now live in a time in which Meditation can be seen as something which has always been.  Something which was forgotten by many in the West, then rediscovered and debated in the 20th, and now, the 21st century.  Let us return to our ancient roots without regret or fear!        

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Introducing - Jesus On Meditation: Reflections from Matthew

Three years ago I wrote two short articles entitled "Did Jesus Meditate?" which surprisingly received a lot of attention when first written, and continue to get a lot of attention to this day.  The articles were written at a time when I was still fairly new to the practice of meditation (having only meditated consistently since December of 2007), and was still new as well to linking the practice of meditation to Scriptural texts.  Since then what was new and strange for me has now become glaringly obvious.  Not only did Jesus meditate, there are numerous instructions and insights given both in the teaching of Jesus and in other Biblical material concerning the practice of meditation.  Some will be obvious; others will need to be fleshed out a bit.  But with a little explanation I think we can begin to demonstrate there is a wealth of material in many Biblical texts which the average person has heard (perhaps repeatedly in both Church and Sunday School) but never linked to the practice of meditation.  I will begin the series tonight starting with the Gospel of Matthew.  Thank you for your continued interest in this topic even after a writing lapse of three years.  I promise future updates will not take so long!


Frater Ralph 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tarot Reflections. The Hanged Man: Winning Through Surrender!


According to The Art of War "To win without fighting is best." But what happens when you find yourself locked into a battle you simply can not win? Perhaps it is a personal struggle you have been fighting for years, but no matter how hard you try, things always get worse instead of better. Oftentimes these are struggles where our own personal ego gets in the way of our better judgement. These can be control issues where we think we should have - or must have - more power over the situation than we actually do. It can be a problem with finding ourselves unable to control an addiction such as drugs or alcohol. It can also be a problem in trying to control other persons, places, or things which are clearly outside our sphere of influence, but which we wish to control anyway. Still we exert our own ego to fight this battle to control either some substance or person or circumstance which, if we were to be honest with ourselves, we would have to admit, was clearly outside of our control. Yet we continue to push our own lives out of control trying to control the uncontrolable. Sounds like fun? Not really.

We are trained by our culture to "Never say die" to "Never give up, never surrender!" Yet when we are locked into a battle which we clearly can not win - at least not alone - it is usually best to acknowledge our limitations and surrender; at least for the moment. Sometimes we learn our life's lessons in moments of victory, and sometimes we learn them in moments of defeat. The Hanged Man card speaks to this. He speaks to a surrender of ego where the limited is let go of so that the Infinite can take over and lead the seeker into a better Way. The Hanged Man can be seen as a person who has been fighting a losing battle for a long, long time, who suddenly has the flash of insight which leads him/her to the seemingly insane conclusion: Victory Can Be Found Though Surrender & Sacrifice! The seeker surrenders and makes his/her sacrifice to discover to their surprise and contentment they are giving up garbage in exchange for gold! Thus, once at the point of acceptance, he/she makes this sacrifice with an air of gratitude and serenity surrounding them. The seeker finds a life without drugs or alcohol becomes a life without the problems drugs or alcohol has created. The seeker is able to recognize the insanity of trying to control other people or circumstances which he/she can not control, and turns the control over to the proper authority: Spirit as he/she understands Spirit, or God/Goddess as he/she understands God/Goddess. In this process of turning things over, the seeker finds joy, peace, and contentment, all through the act of surrender. This is when admitting your weakness turns into your one great strength!

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again thinking that this time the results are going to be different." -Anonymous

"Wisdom is not knowing what you know; it is admitting what you don't know" -Fr. Joe Martin

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tarot Reflection: Temperance or The Alchemist!

                                     Temperance - Take a Sad Song, and Make It Better!

Life does not always give us roses, but we can take the bad things life gives to us and make them better. If we live dwelling on the negative, then the negative will be all we see. Many times negative things are actually blessings in disguise. The lose of a job one has had for many years can result in a positive career change one would never have made otherwise. Or a crippling car accident can lead to one gaining a whole new perspective on life and becoming a positive voice for change.

Things are not always what they seem. Good, bad, ugly, beautiful are just terms we use to describe things we understand only on a superficial level. When we look deep down we begin to understand that all things work for good, or at least can work for good if we have the eyes to see the good within.  Find the good in a negative situation today, then begin the alchemical work of transmuting it for the better!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tarot From A Hermetic View Point. Introductory Readings for $5.99

A part of our spiritual skills include Tarot Readings from a Hermetic point of view.  In doing Tarot readings we do not focus on predicting the future (Pop Divination), rather we focus on what the voice of Spirit has to say to the seeker concerning a particular problem or concern.  We view Tarot as a Universal visual Scripture relating Spiritual Truths in the forms of pictures and combinations of pictures.  In doing a Tarot Reading we relate these Spiritual Truths to the question at hand and offer guidance based on the insights given.

As a special introduction to Tarot Reading we are offering the following Lenten Special.  An in depth one card reading via Email for only $5.99.  This reading will be delivered to your Email address within 24 to 36 hours of payment.  All Email readings are delivered in PDF format, and include a picture of the card used.  To order click the Buy Now link below. In the PayPal Special Instruction box please give us your name, date of birth, question or concern, and Email address you would like to use for our reply.  This introductory offer is good from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  Limit one per week per client.     

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at:


Frater Ralph

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A little bit about St. Francis Place.......

"Lord Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace."

Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek,
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

"Make me an instrument of Your Peace."

Peace on earth is perhaps one of the oldest desires of the human heart. Yet for ages it has been most elusive. What is the key to world peace? Can it even be attained at all?

Some of the greatest spiritual masters have taught that in order for there to be world peace, peace must first come into the human heart; that peace must come from within. How can we bring peace into the world when there is war within our hearts? First we must cultivate peace in the treasury of our own heart, and then radiate that peace outward into the lives of our friends, families, and communities. We must first learn to be the peace we seek.

How is this task accomplished? One way is through the practice of prayer and meditation. In the practice of prayer and meditation we open ourselves up to the God of our understanding, by whatever Name He or She may be known to us. In prayer we ask The Divine for the grace to be transformed; that The Divine Will be worked within our lives. In meditation we listen in silence and wait for The Holy One's response. Eventually we begin to receive that for which we have asked, a new and transformed inner being. It takes time and sincere practice, as well as the support of like minded people working together in a loving community. That is what we are working to do here at St. Francis Place; an Inter-Faith community helping people of Good Will to transform themselves into the beings we are called to become. We are not concerned with religion. A person may belong to any religion they wish, or none at all. Our concern is with Spiritual growth; a process we are all involved in whether we realize it or not. A process of drawing closer to The Divine, as we understand The Divine, seeking to be transformed by the Grace of Unconditional Love, and thus finding a true inner peace. All it takes is a sincere and open heart, a little guidance, and the time spent to sit and listen meditatively. Eventually miracles do happen!

If this sounds like a community you might be interested in, please feel free to contact us using the email address in the side bar to the right. Currently we are active world-wide on the Internet, and are seeking to build a physical community in the Missouri Ozarks. Working together we can transform hearts and lives, beginning with our own. Peace on earth is a real possibility which can be attained. But first we must realize this peace within our own hearts and become the peace we seek.


Ralph and Heydi
St Francis Place
Wheatland Mo.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Our Google+ Online Community.

In our continuing effort to build and sustain an online community of friends from around the world we have begun a Google+ Community known as InterFaith InterPeace.  This is an interfaith community of people seeking Oneness and fellowship through dialogue and the practice of meditation.  This new community will give us the ability to come together in real time through the Google HangOuts function for discussion, seminars, and just to hang out.  To get started simply follow the link below:

InterFaith InterPeace Google+ Community


Frater Ralph

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ajahn Brahm from the Buddhist Society of Western Australia speaks on deep listening.