Spiritual Surf: Mary, Tiger Woods, Chanukah, Musical Healing, Bodhi Day

immaculatecon11Immaculate Mary: fan of Luther

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, is celebrated this week by Roman Catholics. This holy day commemorates Mary’s being conceived without original sin.  Two surprising features of the holy day?  Historically many Christians believed that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin, yet this belief was not promulgated as Catholic dogma until December 8, 1854 (fairly recent relative to the world of Catholic doctrine).  Second, while many Protestants scoff at this belief, the first advocate of the Reformation, Martin Luther, firmly believed in the immaculate conception of Mary.

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright in the media spotlighttiger-woods

Tiger Woods’ recent car accident has spawned a media frenzy and an explosion of blog gossip, particularly a rumored connection between the accident and a marital fight. What makes Tiger’s story so appetizing is a perceived movement from a song-of-innocence to a song-of-experience; a clean, innocent reputation tarnished by infidelity. Spiritual questers can show caution in exploring Tiger’s evolving story by asking “Am I more interesting in the dirt, suffering or immorality of a professional golfer, or in learning something important about spiritual relationships?”  Remember, David’s affair with Bathsheba and Solomon’s many wives made it into the Bible for good reason.

chanukiah11Chanukah: bloody fight for religious freedom

While dreidels, candles and coin-shaped chocolates abound in Chanukah celebrations, the historical source of the celebration is located in an armed conflict between Jews and Greeks in second century B.C. Palestine. The story seems right out of a Mel Gibson movie, staring the Maccabee family as a band of brothers waging guerrilla warfare for religious freedom, Razis who hurls his own entrails at Greek troops, and Eleazar, a Jewish warrior crushed under an armored elephant.  This holy day can give us pause to think how violence is tied to religious freedom, and discovering what is truly worth fighting for.  Chanukah will be celebrated from December 11 to December 19.

Soul Jamming: music as spiritual therapypythagoras_with_bells

David, of biblical fame, used music to calm King Saul’s evil spirit.  Pythagoras claimed harmonics as governing the cosmos.  Now Kathleen McLaughlin claims that playing an instrument, no matter how poorly, creates states of meditative healing.  Founder of “Soul Jam,” McLaughlin offers her own pythagorean theory that all things are vibrations (though she gives the credit to Indian poets rather than Greek philosophers).  But McLaughlin is not alone in this modern trend of music therapy, which ranges from professional musicians performing in hospitals to intimate small groups chanting single syllable mantras.

bodhi-tree-bodhgaya1Bodhi Day: when a tree marks enlightenment

This week marks the Buddhist celebration of Siddhartha Gautama’s enlightenment known as Bodhi Day.  According to Buddhist sutras, Siddhartha, after years of searching for an end to suffering, meditated under the bodhi tree; after seeing  his past lives and recognizing the cause of suffering, Gautama became ”enlightened” or the Buddha.   Henceforth the species of tree was named bodhi, meaning “awakening,” in honor of Siddhartha’s attainment of enlightenment.  Pilgrims can visit the tree’s descendent in Bohdgaya, India, perhaps the most religious site in Buddhism.

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One Response to “Spiritual Surf: Mary, Tiger Woods, Chanukah, Musical Healing, Bodhi Day”

  1. Thanks for a different perspective on the Tiger Woods debacle! I enjoying reading Spiritual Surf every week.