Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie

Conjectures of an Eclectic Christian

Since today is world poetry day, I thought I would post one of my poems – God In All Things – published in ‘The Other Side of Light’: The great dialectic, Immanent, yet transcendent, mysterious, yet knowable, God in all things.   God within, God without, God above us, God before us, ever about us. …

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Learn how to meditate on paper. Drawing and writing are forms of meditation. Learn how to contemplate works of art. Learn how to pray in the streets or in the country. Know how to meditate not only when you have a book in your hand but when you are waiting for a bus or riding …

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It was Cicero who once said, ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.’  Many people since have concurred with this statement. The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy, says Brother David Steindl-Rast OSB, founder of ‘A Network for Grateful …

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A recent study by Northeastern University’s David DeSteno, published in Psychological Science, gives a fascinating insight into the impact of meditation on interpersonal harmony and compassion. According to DeSteno, “The truly surprising aspect of this finding is that meditation made people willing to act virtuous – to help another who was suffering – even in the face of …

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Paradox And Interconnectedness: Seeing The World Through New Eyes

September 17, 2013

As the musician and activist Kathy Mattea once sagely observed: ‘That’s the great paradox of living on this earth, that in the midst of great pain you can have great joy as well’.

Nowhere have I observed this paradox played out with such thought-provoking beauty and profundity than in the experimental non-narrative documentary by Ron Fricke entitled ‘Baraka’.  Fricke’s extended cinematographic meditation explores themes via a mesmeric compilation of nature, everyday life and human activity shot in twenty-four countries on six continents over a fourteen month period.

The existential paradox is presented through poignant images of grinding poverty, monotonous work, factory farming, prostitution, economic exploitation, pollution and the crushing of individuality. The contrast with the beauty of creation, the peace of meditation, thoughtfulness and self-transcendence tells its own story. It is at this level of transcendence, whether it is expressed through the world’s major religions or philosophies, or through some other means, that humanity comes alive and radiates beauty and hope.

I find myself drawn to watch and meditate on the message of ‘Baraka’ when I am in reflective mood.  Like any good film though, each time I watch it I see something new and emerge with a different perspective. Notwithstanding that ever-changing landscape, as I watch, I consistently turn over in my mind those very famous words Thomas Merton uttered during his ‘Louisville Epiphany’:

‘Yesterday, in Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, suddenly realized that I loved all the people and that none of them were, or, could be totally alien to me. As if waking from a dream — the dream of separateness, of the “special” vocation to be different. My vocation does not really make me different from the rest of men or put me is a special category except artificially, juridically. I am still a member of the human race — and what more glorious destiny is there for man, since the Word was made flesh and became, too, a member of the Human Race!

Thank God! Thank God! I am only another member of the human race, like all the rest of them. I have the immense joy of being a man! As if the sorrows of our condition could really matter, once we begin to realize who and what we are — as if we could ever begin to realize it on earth’.

Merton, in his epiphany, calls on us all to explore our radical interconnectedness and to reflect on what it means to be human.  Intriguingly, ‘Baraka’ does just that too, although this time through the highly effective medium of film.

I’d highly recommend ‘Baraka’.  Once you’ve watched it once you’ll almost certainly want to watch it again….and again!

In the meantime, you can watch the official trailer here (and you can also view the entire film courtesy of Youtube):

As a mindfulness practitioner myself, I’ve often struggled to articulate the mechanisms through which meditation might actually work, mainly because there hasn’t been a plethora of scientific literature on this subject. But that might be about to change. Rick Nauert, in his recent article on Psych Central entitled ‘Controlling Brain Waves May Be Key to …

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“I liked the solitude and the silence of the woods and the hills. I felt there the sense of a presence, something undefined and mysterious, which was reflected in the faces of the flowers and the movements of birds and animals, in the sunlight falling through the leaves and in the sound of running water, …

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In the 2002-2003 school year, there were 41 murders in the neighborhood of Visitacion Valley Middle School in the San Francisco area. Students were busy playing “cops and robbers” with real guns, and many suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as  a result of the violence they had witnessed in their lives. Then, in 2007, the …

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The question as to whether or not we are hardwired for religion and spirituality is an important one from a range of different perspectives says pioneering neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg. The philosophical, theological and biological implications of the answer to this question are profound. “When we look at how the brain works, we see it’s …

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Reuben Margolin is an incredibly talented  kinetic sculptor, crafting beautiful pieces that move in various patterns, including raindrops falling and waves combining.  Margolin’s installations are as dramatic as they are mesmeric, reflecting an art-form that is meditative and almost spiritual, inspired as it is by maths and nature. Amazing. You can see Margolin talk about …

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