Day 40 of the Feast
Dear One,

You did it! You observed 40 days of the Feast! You had a choice on what you could pay attention to, and you chose what I consider the "most important thing." You chose to deepen your spiritual connection. Whether you observed your spiritual practice every day or missed a day or two, I believe you made a difference in the world.

When I lived in the Zen Center years ago, we'd enter the zendo (meditation room) and bow with our hands together. We'd then bow to to our teacher, meditation seat, and to those across practicing with us. This gesture is called "gassho." It's a Japanese word that means, "palms of the hands placed together."

Placing the hands together, palm to palm in and about a fist's distance between the tip of the nose and the hand is a formal mudra—a hand gesture—used during meditation. It helps to establish an alert and reverential state of mind. Bringing opposite hands together can represent awareness of other opposites as well: you and me, light and dark, ignorance and wisdom, life and death.

You'll see a similar gesture as a traditional greeting in India, and probably in a yoga class. "Namaste"—and its common variants namaskar, namaskaara, and namaskaram—is one of the various forms of formal traditional greeting mentioned in the Vedas. It's a means of paying homage or showing respect to one another.

Namaste tends to be defined as some derivation of, "The divine in me bows to the divine in you."

In Buddhism, it's a gesture symbolizing the realization that life is supported by innumerable causes and conditions and that we are interconnected with each other through these causes. 

As spiritual aspirants, we take the perspective of Namaste or Gassho with each other and with our teachers.

During our journey, w e can encounter many teachers to thank and acknowledge. Some of the teachers that have influenced me on my journey I've never met, but their power is alive and has an undeniable ripple effect. I consider Rumi one of the great teachers. Let's look back at his poem that first caught Valerie's attention (the Founder of the Feast), and was the inspiration for the Feast for the Soul 11 years ago.

A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation, and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.
What nine months of attention does for an embryo
forty early mornings alone will do
for your gradually growing wholeness.

I offer a deep bow to you as you put your spirituality first and to all of the teachers, modern and ancient, who dedicate their lives to peace.
Deep Gassho,

Sarah

Sarah McLean
Director, Feast for the Soul, Inc.


P.S. If you feel moved to donate to keep the Feast alive, we would appreciate any amount. You can do so here.
Meditation Teacher Highlight
Shahabuddin David Less  is a meditation teacher, author, American mystic, and Senior Teacher (Murshid) in the  Sufi Order International . He is the founder and Spiritual Director of Rising Tide International, an interfaith spiritual community in Sarasota, Florida; co-founder of the Abrahamic Reunion, multi-faith group of spiritual and religious leaders working together as peacemakers in Israel and Palestine; and serves as International Head of  The Universal Worship , a universal religion that honors and invokes all the world's religious and spiritual contributions to humanity.

Spiritual Practice Tip
I n the Buddhist tradition, there is a practice of dedicating the merits of one's spiritual practice to the peace and wellbeing of others, all beings in space and time. You too can do this. Before or after you practice, you can offer the merits to anyone, or any cause. It's a simple practice.

“When we practice  bodhicitta  prayers or meditations, it may look like we are alone, like we are practicing for ourselves, but we are not practicing for ourselves, and we are not alone. All beings are interconnected, and in that sense they are present or affected." - from the books Natural Great Perfection : Dzogchen Teachings and Vajra Songs.

Spiritual Practice Tip
I am excited to share one of the most beautiful songs with you. It's a prayer for peace on Earth, c omposed, played, and sung by a dear friend, Kathy Zavada on her Chants to Awaken CD. It brings tears of joy to my eyes and my heart opens every single time I hear it.

Peace on Earth
We are the hope of glory
We are the prince of peace
We are the Christ that's here now
We are the mother of mercy
We are the light in the darkness
We are the wings of a prayer
We have the hands to reach out
We are the ones to be there
We have the hearts that open
We have the eyes to behold God
We are the boddhisattvas
We are embodiments of love...of love
Peace on Earth
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.....
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