Monday, November 30, 2009

The Four Waters

The Life
In her first work St. Teresa explains the grades of prayer by using the symbol of the "four waters," or more precisely, the four methods of watering a garden. The first method is by drawing water from a well by means of a bucket attached to a rope. This is the first stage of prayer and it includes vocal prayer and discursive meditation. The individual is active, exercising the faculties and reaping what benefit it can through one's own efforts. But lest the beginners think too much and turn their discursive meditation into an intellectual exercise, St. Teresa advises them "not to spend all their time in doing so. Their method of prayer is most meritorious, but since they enjoy it so much, they sometimes fail to realize that they should have some kind of a sabbath, that is, a period of rest from their labors. . . . Let them imagine themselves, as I have suggested, in the presence of Christ, and let them continue conversing with him and delighting in him, without wearying their minds or exhausting themselves by composing speeches to him" (The Life, chap. 13).

The second method of watering a garden is by means of a waterwheel to which dippers are attached. As the wheel is turned, the water is poured into a trough that carries the water to the garden. St. Teresa explains that this stage, in which "the soul begins to recollect itself, borders on the supernatural. . . . This state is a recollecting of the faculties within the soul, so that its enjoyment of that contentment may provide greater delight" (The Life, chap. 13).

The third type of watering a garden is by irrigation by means of a running stream. It doesn't call for human effort as in the two previous methods. Prayer at this stage is mystical; that is, all the faculties are centered on God. "This kind of prayer," says St. Teresa, "is quite definitely a union of the entire soul with God" (The Life, chap. 17). She calls it a "sleep of the faculties" because they are totally occupied with God. "Not one of them, it seems, ventures to stir, nor can we cause any of them to be active except by striving to fix our attention very carefully on something else, and even then I don't think we could succeed entirely in doing so" (The Life, chap. 16).

The fourth and final method for watering a garden is by means of falling rain. This stage of prayer is totally mystical, meaning that it is infused by God and is not attained by human effort. It is called the prayer of union, and it admits of varying degrees.

The grades of prayer described by St. Teresa in The Life do not correspond to the division of prayer that is usually given in manuals of spiritual theology. There are several reasons for this, and the first one is possibly the fact of the discrepancy of 15 years between her first and the last major work. Secondly, the precise terminology to describe some the transitional grades of prayer between discursive mental prayer and the prayer of the transforming union did not come into common use until the seventeenth century. Thirdly, since she was writing from her own experience, it is possible that St. Teresa had passed immediately from discursive meditation to a high degree of infused, mystical prayer.

The Way of Perfection.

When we turn to The Way of Perfection, which St. Teresa began in 1565, we notice that there are some adjustments in her division. Since the first nuns of the Teresian reform had asked her to teach them about mental prayer, it is logical that she would be more precise and detailed, especially when speaking of the earlier stages of mental prayer. One of the most obvious differences in The Way of Perfection is that St. Teresa tries to distinguish between the prayer of active recollection and the prayer of infused recollection.

In Chapters 28 and 29 she discusses the prayer of active recollection. After recalling that St. Augustine had said that he had looked for God in many places and finally found God within himself, St. Teresa asserts that one need not go to heaven to speak to God, nor is it necessary to speak in a loud voice. "However quietly we speak, he is so near that he will hear us. We need no wings to go in search of him, but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon him present within us" (chap. 28).

If one prays in this way, conversing with God who dwells in the soul through sanctifying grace, even if the prayer is vocal, the mind will be recollected. It is called prayer of recollection because "the soul gathers together all its faculties and enters within itself to be with its God" (loc. cit.). This may prove to be something of a struggle in the beginning, says St. Teresa, but if a person cultivates the habit of recollection, the soul and the will gain such power over the senses that "they will only have to make a sign to show that they wish to enter into recollection and the senses will obey and let themselves be recollected" (ibid.).

When St. Teresa spoke of the prayer of recollection in Chapter 15 of The Life, she said that "this quiet and recollection. . .is not something that can be acquired." But in Chapter 29 of The Way of Perfection she says: "You must understand that this is not a supernatural state, but depends on our will, and that, by God's favor, we can enter it of our own accord. . . . For this is not a silence of the faculties; it is an enclosing of the faculties within itself by the soul." In other words, it is an ascetical, acquired grade of prayer, and not a mystical, infused grade.

What St. Teresa calls the prayer of quiet in Chapter 31, on the other hand, is definitely the prayer of infused recollection, a type of mystical, infused contemplation. Later on, she will further refine her terminology, but for the moment we should read her description of this "prayer of quiet."

I still want to describe this prayer of quiet to you in the way that I have heard it explained and as the Lord has been pleased to teach it to me. . . . This is a supernatural state and however hard we try, we cannot acquire it by ourselves. . . . The faculties are stilled and have no wish to move, for any movement they make seems to hinder the soul from loving God. They are not completely lost, however, since two of them are free and they can realize in whose presence they are. It is the will that is captive now. . . . The intellect tries to occupy itself with only one thing, and the memory has no desire to busy itself with more. They both see that this is the one thing necessary; anything else will cause them to be disturbed (chap. 31).

The predominant characteristics of the prayer of quiet are peace and joy, for the will is totally captivated by divine love. The faculties of intellect and memory are still free and may wander, but the soul should pay no attention to the operations of these faculties. To do so would cause distraction and anxiety. Later on, in the prayer of union, it will be impossible for the intellect and memory to operate independently, because all the faculties will be centered on God.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dealing with Stress: There's Only One Way

When we are faced with great, or even minor stress, the only way I know that we can begin to overcome it is to feel and bless it at the same time. Let me explain.

There once was a man who had everything in life that anyone could ever desire. Great wealth, a wonderful family and a strong religious path. One day, almost like a great depression, or a stock market crash, all of his wealth was gone. Bam! Gone.When he went home, he went to prayer thanking God for all that he did still have.

The very next day, his children were killed in a freak accident. Through his tears, he still thanked God for all that he had remaining, as you can imagine a very difficult thing to do.His friends came to ask him the reason for his extremely bad luck, assuming he had been the cause somehow of all of his troubles. But, in fact, he had not personally done anything that would have created the havoc he was going through.

A short time later, he came down with a serious illness, life threatening, but still managed to find the strength to give thanks in his prayers.His wife and friends asked him to just give up, to let go of holding onto life, and his gratitude so strongly, so that he could end his personal suffering. But he refused, and instead everyday just went deeper into gratitude for what he still did have.Yes, he also questioned God, wondering how all of this tragedy could have entered his life. And right after that, went to praise.

A while later, his life began to turn around. His health returned, his wealth returned even greater than before, and he had more children with his wife. An amazing experience!The one grounding force during all of his trials was his daily gratitude for what he did have in life. A powerful testament to the power of thankful prayers.

Slow down, as you deal with stress today, feel the discomfort and then go to praise, to prayers of gratitude for all that you do have in life.

Love, peace, Rev. David

(the above story, is the story of Job, from the Old Testament)
Posted by David Essel at 3:12

Dauphie Piper: A beautiful Soul

Adventurer. Spiritual. Caring. Athletic. Healing. Sensitive. Explorer. Dependable. Trustworthy. Friend. Son. Brother. Client.

The words above came to me in a split second when I stopped to write about Dauphie. I met Dauphie Piper through his sister, Michel, a number of years ago. Our first meeting was over the phone as he had decided he wanted to work with me as his life coach. From the very first conversation I knew he and I would work together perfectly. He was the type of client I truly admire— his zest for life and his ability to look deeply and honestly at his strengths as well as his challenges.

Dauphie attacked life. He loved life. He was a searcher, a person who knew that his quest here had to have great meaning. When we first spoke, he was an intern as an emergency room physician. In this capacity, he was frustrated that he often only saw his patients one time. His desire was to do follow up with all of his patients, as he truly cared about their well being, but in the emergency room setting this rarely happened, and I know that bothered his sensitive nature.

In my work with all clients there are writing exercises due within 24 hours after our session. The point of this work is to help every person I work with to go deeper into their own personal world to find the answers to the questions that are present during our work. Dauphie's work often came written an hour after our talks. His dedication to his path was evident in how seriously he wanted to be in the physical world, but also knew that his life had a great spiritual meaning as well.

One of our most trans formative times came after I had asked him to read a very deep and powerful book called The Power of Now. We had continuous and extremely intense discussions on how he could apply the difficult principle of “living in the moment, every moment of every day.” This psychological “immersion” process meant that one would be totally conscious of all that was going on inside, feelings on a moment to moment basis, as well as what was happening in surroundings in the “outside world.” Dauphie took this exercise very seriously and it led to some amazing opportunities, self discovery, the type of discovery that he immediately started sharing with those around him. He began to seriously question the loads of “red tape” in the world of medicine that he believed prevented physicians from offering the utmost in patient care.

On a personal level, this “living in the moment” became a powerful part of his daily runs while living in Chicago. He first started to notice the amount of homeless people he would pass on a regular basis. This led him to test his own ego — he began purposely making eye contact with them. His final exercise was to look into their eyes as he ran by them daily and to consciously “send them love”. He told me the most incredible experience would occur when in unison they would look back at him and smile. These experiences became commonplace for Dauphie.I was thrilled to have him in my life, not only as a client but also as a friend.

When we met in person at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Sarasota, it truly was like we had known each other for years.His ready and infectious smile put people at ease. His desire to explore the seas on his father's boat, travel to Asia to discover Buddhist Temples, or trek to mountaintops in Bolivia, were all a part of his amazingly adventurous spirit.

The saddest phone call I have ever received came three weeks ago from Dauphie. With tears he told me of his recent medical diagnosis and that he may not be in this world much longer. He reached out to me with his incredible ability to share his deep emotion, telling me what I had meant to him, that he loved me for who I am and all that I am. Tears streamed down my face as I drove, not believing what I was hearing. I told him how much I loved him too, and how much I wanted to see him one more time. That one more time never came. Yet, as I write this, he is right here with me, overlooking my writing and making sure I don't leave anything important out (smile).

In memory of this amazing man, I now intend to live more like him. I intend, in Dauphie's honor, to be more adventurous, to explore more of what all of life has to offer. He touched me in a way that as I write this I have to say was unexpected. While he came into my life to learn about the process I use to help others, he left teaching me as well. And Dauphie, in your honor, I will carry forward in life with a new zest for living with a new sense of adventure. How can I ever thank you enough for that.

Love, your friend,Rev. David
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

She's Here... He Has Ushered Her Into the Heart of the World

The divine feminine principle needs to come forward in your life. When She is ignored we have poverty, separation, lack, pain and suffering. The Light is not a He or a She, but if you will study Kabbalah, you will discover that our Monad, our Heavenly Parents are a He and a She. En Sof or The Light or the Source of All That Is, gave birth to them and they are in a sense the etheric version of Adam and Eve.

When someone is connecting too strongly to one of the sides of the Godhead, it gives you a great deal of information about them. Not to judge them by, but to assist. Perhaps they need more of that energy....for a time...but eventually this imbalance will draw the counterbalance to them. I believe that as a woman part of my role in life is to be that counterbalance, to anchor and embody the Divine Feminine in our lives and I am intending for this.

When we honor the feminine force within we have abundance in all things spiritual and material. Shakti! as the Hindu call it, is what breathes warmth into the coldness of life. Sophia or the Divine Feminine is the next step in our evolution. Her Holiness Sai Maa our beloved Mother embodies this.

Buddha using the keys of compassion opened the gate for Christ, then Christ using the keys of unconditional love opened the gate for Sophia. Sophia is wisdom. She is the keeper of the receptacle to receive this compassion and agape. Without her we have no way to assimilate it and put it to use in our lives. Jesus and Buddha did not intend that we go around mindlessly uttering their name. They want us to embody the energies they hold and anchor it on the planet as they did. THAT is what opens our mass consciousness up to the next level of consciousness.

Holy Spirit - God grant me the serenity
Buddha - To accept the things I cannot change
Christ - To change the things that I can
Sophia - And the wisdom to know the difference.


The Goddess speaks to you in the dreamtime. What are your dreams? You do not have to be at ground zero before you receive. Breathing consists of inhaling and exhaling, Receiving consists of give and take. The Desire to Receive in Order to Share must be stimulated. We must Ask, Request and Desire in order to create - She is the asking and the receiving. How are you allowing your community to heal and support you? Have you been empowering them? Where are you focusing the majority of your energy?

We have run out of time in playing it small and holding things to the vest. We have run out of time, because we have been praying fervently for some very powerful things, such as divine union and unconditional love. These things will not look entirely like what we think they should look like. When you pray for these things you go places within yourself and with others, (and not just the others that you think) that are foreign to our old mindsets and experiences.

I have a challenge for you. This is a shamanic journey assignment. What is happening right under your very nose that could help you? Literally right in your own space...(clue - check the church calendar) Who is in your community that can help you? (no clue needed for this one - there are many), but you must become receptive in order to receive the information.

When we close our world inward we get smaller and smaller and then we are forced to reach out and RECEIVE. I always think on this myself and marvel at how odd it is (and I am no exception merely because I am writing this) that we have to be reminded to receive, to ask, to open and allow a floodgate of support to come to our aid. Everytime we call to God and the angels, they come. Their energy manifests mostly through people. And with the level of people we are surrounded by, they hear these messages louder and clearer than any other people we've ever been with. And therefore they act on these message. That is the blessing and the power of a fully functioning community.

I am seeking and ever strengthening in holding the energy of the Divine Mother. We absolutely need her love. All of us have been missing the reception of her love. Why do you think the people in this church moved on from patriarichal religions? We are ready for more. We have been seeking and some have not even known what it is they were missing. But we are ready to receive her. She is the vehicle that brings us to life! He is what plants the seed! Yet, we must always protect and prepare the way for Her to be present in our lives in consciousness.

As you can imagine, it is quite the task to become the receptacle for the containment of that raging river of the masculine force. Men can anchor this energy as well and need to do so, but the master responsibility to anchor this energy lies within women. I and all women need all the support we can get to do this. If enough women anchor it, then more men and women will be able to anchor it within themselves and it will not be so difficult as it has been. Divine Union will be anchored on the earth. And that harmonious union is the ONLY thing that can facilitate the out picturing of heaven on earth.

He and She, our heavenly mother and father feel about us no differently that we do as parents to our own children. This divine template is right in front of our faces. Just as a human child suffers so aggregiously without it's mother, so too does a divine child suffer without contact with it's heavenly mother and so it is with the father, as well. But the Father has had a much stronger presence and the mother was forced into the shadows. Can you imagine her grief? Can you imagine our grief as her children? This same grief is here when the relationship with the Father is too powerful, for what happens with masculine energy that is unfettered and uncontained by the feminine force? It LEAVES. It must. Masculine energy is pure freedom! Feminine energy is containment and formation. They are opposing forces that MUST work together to create and not destroy.

The energy of the Father guards and protects her so she can come to us. Yet, we must become more deeply aware of our role in this most important mission. It's almost too good to be true, to find out that God is a heirarchial structure, a multi-dimensional being and part of that structure is a mother, most of us never knew we had. Like orphans, we have had the most ultimate wish granted and that is to be re-united with BOTH of our parents. This is happening, now. I stand in awe and joy and gratitude to be among those here on earth when this is occurring. To be even a small part of anchoring this for us all is overwhelming. We are truly blessed and beloved.

As above, so below – Our Heavenly Mother wants to be re-united with you. Please let her into your heart. Call to her, Ask for a vision. She was never gone. She comes through the earth (Gaia), nature and humans, but when people don't channel her and receive her gifts with consciousness, she is hidden. Reveal her to yourself. She is the key to what is to come next.

By: Rev. Renee Bledsoe 2009

Divine Feminine Prayer

Mother of the Light, may you reign as a Goddess of Wisdom within my soul.
Be present for me now and in every moment of eternity.
Take my hand and lead me to the Birthing Light of God within me,
for there shall I find my purpose in life revealed.

Mother, greet me at the door,
embrace me in your loving countenance and smile gently upon me.
As your lost child, give me assurance that your grace is with me always.
All streams spring from the font of your heart.
Your eyes shine as the blue sea into my heart,
and you forever find me worthy of your love.

In the spirit of this revelation, I offer to reveal myself fully to you,
who is my Divine Feminine being, at all times and in all ways.


by Rev. Maia Chrystine Nartoomid

Friday, November 6, 2009

Clear Your Clutter Tag Sale

November 14th - 8am - 2pm

We need your help! We need items donated for our fundraiser Tag sale, which will be held at the church, as well as baked goods and volunteers to work the sale on Nov 14th from approx 7am - 2 pm. We can also arrange to pickup larger items for you! Please call Leo at 239-945-0937 or Rev. Renee at 239-560-6314 for more info or to volunteer or donate items.

One of the most powerful ways to find peace and harmony is to simplify your life. One of the best places to start is with your physical space. Clearing out old items that you do not use opens us up to receiving new energies into our lives. So this is a win-win situation. What better way to help a charitable organization than to turn your trash into treasure!

Click here to participate


Join us on December 20th as we honor the power and sacredness of the season with a special Sunday Service to bless and consecrate our new church space. Followed by a holiday party and potluck celebration. Please call Rev. Renee Bledsoe to coordinate your dish at 239-560-6314.

Sunday Service begins at 9:45am with Pure Light Meditation, 10am Service begins, followed by our dinner from 12-2pm. All are welcome.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast & Giveaway Ceremony

Sunday, November 29th

Church of Spiritual Light presents the 2009 Thanksgiving Feast and Giveaway Ceremony. Please bring your favorite holiday dish to share, as well as a small gift which will be given away to honor a very special sacred ancient ritual to show gratitude for our blessings. The gift can be anything that has meaning to you, including feathers, stones, figurines or sacred objects. In order to honor the energy it should be something that you love and not a cast off item.

The potlatch is a festival or ceremony practiced among Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest most prominently. At these gatherings a family or leader hosts guests in their family's house and hold a feast for their guests. The main purpose of the potlatch is the re-distribution and reciprocity of wealth. The word potlatch comes from the Chinook jargon, meaning "to give away" or "a gift".

Help us coordinate our feast and call Rev. Renee at 239-560-6314. Everyone is welcome!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Path of One All Faith Minister

After a church sermon one Sunday, a new member of our congregation asked me how I became an All Faiths Minister. When it happened again last Sunday, I knew it was time to share this story hopefully as a way to break down the separatism between religions, and open a doorway for God, Love, to shine on us all.I believe in the future , the trend will only get larger where more ministers will want to be able to attend to people who come from a variety of faiths in life.

A goal of mine is to somehow use the gifts of ministry to positively affect the lives of those in our congregation and any other congregations I am blessed to address as well as hospitals, or those in recovery and treatment centers, who come from a different faith than myself, or even no faith at all.As an All Faith Minister, I want to use the gift of love to assist everyone on their path to personal growth, and if they choose, their walk with God. By having even a minimal understanding of different faiths, ministers such as myself can be of the greatest service to everyone, and even help those who are trying to find the walk with God they feel most comfortable with.

My personal walk with God began in the Catholic Church where I served as an altar boy for many years. My aunt Rita, sister Regina, is a nun with over 70 years of dedicated service, so my beginnings were definitely influenced by my Catholic upbringing. Like many people, I left the church when I was old enough to make my own decisions, and quite frankly never believed I'd go back to these beginnings. The church at that time seemed too steeped in traditions from the past, and my short attention span needed something more interesting to keep me on path.

Years passed and then I was introduced to Buddhism, and the unbelievable beauty of meditation. My yearning was quenched for several years as I delved into the Four Noble Truths and other powerful Buddhist teachings. I learned more deeply about the beauty of God within, and fell in love with this way of life, this amazing religion.

Then I was introduced to Hinduism, and my enthusiasm for religion reached an all time high. I began to follow the path of Bhakti, a path to God that is filled with daily devotion and prayer to God! Singing God's praise at every turn of the day, my energy for God increased dramatically. . Reading Hindu quotes, scriptures and writings whenever a moment opened in my daily schedule became my love for life.

As I delved into these religions, I became more in love with life.........which brought me back to my Catholic upbringing. I went to a mass a number of years ago, and fell in love all over again with what I enjoyed as an altar boy: the rituals of the Catholic Mass. To this day I still love them.

When I was asked to lead my first church service in a non denominational church several years ago, I was ecstatic to realize that I could use all of these teachings to assist the congregation to experience the Divine within, the God that resides in each of us. As it is so beautifully stated in the bible,"Made in His image"(Genesis 1:26).

My path then took the most amazing turn of all, one I relish to this day. I was asked to lead a congregation as a temporary minister, and the fire was lit. That led me to becoming the co-founder of The Church of Spiritual Light, an All Faith congregation in Fort Myers, Florida. As my path continues, I find myself once again, becoming immersed in the power of ritual, the words of Christ, the power of enthusiastic prayer which once again has filled me with the fire of love, the path of God, as we ascend to higher levels of awakening.

Awakening to the realization that we all have free will, to find God within, and to spread that energy, that love, to all around us through our daily actions. I feel even more in love with God now than ever before.I love to read writings from all types of spiritual masters: monks, rabbis, nuns, priests and more, and am about to begin a class on Kabbalah, the mystical arm of Judaism. I daily read scripture from the bible and look for the love that resides in everyone, the God within each of us.

Slow down and find love, God, in all you do as we respect the faiths that surround us.

Love, peace, Rev. David