THIS WEEK, we’re showing you fresh approaches to religious life! We introduced Greg Garrett’s terrific “Other Jesus.” We also shared ideas for small groups like Flying a Kite—and Women and Water.
See ‘Exploring Consciousness East and West’ Right Here
TODAY, we’re reporting on a fascinating Sunday-evening TV show you can watch right here on the Global Spirit page within ReadTheSpirit. When you visit that page, you’ll see the video screen that will go “live” during the broadcast on Sunday evening. (Please, note broadcast times on that page, too.)
Over the past year, ReadTheSpirit has been a co-sponsoring website for the TV series, “Global Spirit,” carried via LinkTV. We’ve established this special Global Spirit webpage where you can simply “click in” to our website Sunday evening. On that webpage, you’ll enjoy this new video conversation between Global Spirit host Phil Cousineau and two long-time teachers from Eastern approaches to spirituality and consciousness: Peter Russell and Sraddhalu Ranade.
PETER RUSSELL: “From Science to God”
Peter Russell has been studying the intersection of consciousness and spirituality for more than 40 years. In the 1960s, he was studying math, physics and psychology at the college level, when he became fascinated with Transcendental Meditation. Like the Beatles in that era, Russell studied TM with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This led to decades of research, teaching and writing by Russell that moved back and forth between science and spirituality, trying to weave together these two realms of experience.
Among Russell’s many books through the years, ReadTheSpirit recommends “From Science to God: A Physicist’s Journey into the Mystery of Consciousness,” published by our friends at New World Library. (Care to read more in that spiritual style? If you are drawn to this eclectic approach to spirituality, we’ve recommended other New World titles over the past couple of years. One example is “Mala of the Heart,” which contains 108 prayer-poems—or perhaps we might call them “moments of meditation” penned by more than 30 poets. We also featured an interview with Robert Moss, author of “The Secret History of Dreaming,” an intriguing book that looks at various approaches to interpreting dreams in the world’s religious traditions.)
Another connection between Russell’s teaching and ReadTheSpirit lies in a spider-web-like planning process called Mind Mapping. Russell didn’t invent that idea, but he’s well known for teaching Mind Map techniques to free up new ideas from our normal, all-too-linear thinking. Here’s an example of one Mind Map on Russell’s own website. ReadTheSpirit Publisher John Hile is a Mind Map advocate, as well, and we can attest: It’s a creative method for breaking through hide-bound patterns of thinking that can smother new ideas.
Oneness at the Core of the Cosmos
Sraddhalu Ranade represents a fascinating stream of Indian spiritual teaching that—rather than retreating from the world—has engaged on issues of peace and justice over the past century. In 2008, for example, Ranade was one of 150 religious leaders from around the world who gathered in Colorado and produced a series of recommendations and predictions concerning the United States. At that time, Ranade was quoted by Cathleen Falsani in the Chicago Sun-Times. (NOTE: Cathleen also is a very popular inspirational author who we’ve recommended a couple of times to our readers.) Unfortunately, what Ranade “saw” at that moment in Colorado was: “The national soul is now asserting and coming forward and choosing to serve humanity.” It wasn’t, perhaps, the most prescient prediction ever made about America’s future. Nevertheless, Ranade is sincere and works diligently in teaching peace. In 2010, for example, he traveled to Japan for an innovative global peace gathering that explored new ideas for healing the longstanding rift between India and Pakistan.
Ranade teaches from a branch of Hinduism and Yoga founded by Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), who was an Indian nationalist involved in the early era of Indian struggles for freedom from British rule. Later, Aurobindo focused largely on his religious work, which included teaching about spiritual evolution that might lead the world toward peace. Both Aurobindo and now Ranade look to the provocative spiritual teacher Mirra Alfassa (1878-1983), often called simply “The Mother,” as a major influence on their lives. Probably the most famous American who was associated, at least for a while, with this school of teaching is musician Carlos Santana who found this practice helpful in attaining a balance in his own troubled life.
We’re not aware of any Sraddhalu Ranade books in English. He is best known for work in video, including full-scale documentaries about Indian spirituality and culture. However, there’s a great book on our Eastern bookshelf about his teacher and mentor: The Essential Aurobindo: Writings of Sri Aurobindo.
As with many emerging spiritual movements around the world, various controversies and legal actions have arisen over the past half century involving teachers from this school. Ranade himself has been part of controversies over the future of the movement and questions about who controls funding. In the 1990s, Carlos Santana’s former teacher, the late Sri Chinmoy who died in 2007, was involved in the most high-profile controversy, which included accusations of misconduct against devotees of Chimnoy’s U.S.-based community. As recently as 2009, a book by a former devotee, “Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult,” further stirred those painful issues.
Ranade remains a popular and generally a well-respected teacher. He’s best known for talking about the connections between Yoga, Eastern spirituality and science. In keeping with his school’s teachings, he likes to talk about “oneness” and the possibility of upward evolution of our spiritual awareness. He teaches that this possibility is a key to world peace. His vieos are popular around the Internet, partly because of the clarity with which he teaches—and his Global Spirit appearance is no exception.
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(Originally published at readthespirit.com.)