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Our Ministry

 

Hands Across the StreamTo love my neighbor is to assist the arising and the unfolding in him of that which can harmonize the real elements of his nature … But clearly the manifestation of Christian love, so defined, is possible only to the degree that a man has transmitted the truth to the whole of himself.*

Jacob Needleman


When I consciously chose to enter upon The Great Journey I found myself more and more becoming an outsider. I found myself searching for Spiritual resources and support. I discovered that this support was not generally available in the culture we live in, or in the churches and religious organizations available to me. The Great Journey is dedicated to providing Spiritual resources, support and guidance for those individuals, couples and groups commited to their own spiritual growth and development, and to continually shaping and forming their life and world in new ways, creating an every more consonant, more whole, and even more holy life. Its focus is on those who are called to live an active life in the world, and yet are irresistibly drawn to living that life in ever new, more peace filled ways.


| How We Began | Our Mission | Insights We Bring To This Work |


Bullet How We Began

When I consciously chose to enter upon The Great Journey I found myself more and more becoming an outsider. I found myself searching for resources and support. I discovered that this support was not generally available in the culture we live in, or in the churches and religious organizations available to me. All too often I felt ignored, misunderstood, and even overtly excluded. I came to see myself as an outsider. Through education, personal study, and individual experimentation I discovered a rich tradition of knowledge and practice that spoke to me deeply, and that, over time, transformed my life in increasingly profound ways. I discovered that many others had struggled with the same issues I did. Yet I still found precious little support or companionship on my journey.

As my spiritual life developed I discovered that many aspects of my own individual spiritual experience and that of my wife were alike. But I also discovered that there were significant differences that often prevented us from sharing fully. This important aspect in our relationship sometimes caused me to feel even more isolated and alone spiritually. I realized that our commitment to each other included a commitment to find ways to share these differences and to treat them as sources of personal spiritual growth and development.

Paradoxically, as I progressed along my own journeys and became more comfortable with who I am as a unique spiritual person, my sense of being an outsider became even clearer and more pervasive.

Much of what I discovered in my study and experience was found in the monastic and contemplative tradition. It is what Jacob Needleman has referred to as “Lost Christianity”. * In truth, my journey could really be described in Needleman’s terms as “a journey of rediscovery to the centre of Christian experience.” ** But I also discovered much of this lost tradition across other religious and wisdom teaching and practice.

The understanding of the path I am on continued to grow, and I began to develop a theory and practice that worked for me, and that I believed could help others who found themselves struggling along this often lonely journey. I sensed a profound inner calling to reach out to others on The Great Journey, In Search of Life—In Search of God.

Bullet Our Mission

Providing resources, support, and guidance for those on
The Great Journey—In Search of Life, In Search Of God

The Great Journey is dedicated to providing resources, support and guidance for those individuals, couples, and groups committed to their own spiritual growth and development, and to continually shaping and forming their life and world in new ways, creating an ever more consonant, more whole, and even more holy life. Its focus is on those who are called to live an active life in the world, and yet are irresistibly drawn to living that life in ever new, more peace filled ways. Its goal is the discovery, articulation, and practice of a way of life that frees us from the inner mental and emotional turmoil that typically drives our daily actions, opening us to our deepest aspirations, and to our calling from the Mysterious Divine Presence we call God, and allowing us to transform our hearts and change the way we actually experience and live our lives.

For some this is a specifically spiritual or religious quest, while for others it is simply a deep desire for personal growth and transformation. For some those distinctions are blurred. In my own journey much of the most helpful material comes from the Christian monastic and contemplative traditions, but many of the same truths can be found across other traditions, both religious and secular. We have found that the most profound truths about spiritual living can be found in diverse cultures and disparate traditions. It is our deep desire that what we share can speak to anyone who is on The Great Journey of discovery and growth.

In response to this mission The Great Journey offers resources, support, and guidance related to the nature of the spiritual journey and the spiritual practices that facilitate that journey.

Bullet Insights We Bring to This Work

Spiritual Guidance

Each person’s journey is different, and ultimately each person must discover their own path. Spiritual guidance at its heart, involves helping others to listen to the personal guidance that comes from deep inside of each of us where The Mysterious Divine Presence we call God speaks to us personally. All deep transformation is a gift of that Presence.

There are also foundational principles and practices that can facilitate the journey. Beyond listening with the Other, spiritual guidance involves teaching those principles. Most importantly, that teaching must be routed in the guide’s personal practice and experience, and the guide must be willing to appropriately share their own journey.

Conversion Of Heart

It is extremely important to learn about the principles and practices related to spirituality, and equally important to learn how to integrate those principles into our daily lives to change the way we interact with the people, events, and things that make up our lives.

Valid spiritual practice should also actually change the way we are as individuals. It should change not only the way we act, but the way we actually experience, in the deepest part of ourselves, the people, events and things in our lives. In short, valid spiritual practice must lead to transformation or what the monastics call conversion of heart.

Traditions

Each person must be true to their own personal convictions and their own religious traditions, and we deeply respect this truth.

The greatest spiritual wisdom also cuts across both cultural and religious traditions. Some on the spiritual journey struggle to find a home in any tradition. We seek wisdom wherever it can be found, and we are committed to sharing that wisdom in a way that respects those that are more comfortable within specific traditions and those who find that the lines between these traditions are not so clear.

Relationships

Sharing our spiritual lives with another person is one of the most powerful and growth producing things we can do. It takes our most important relationships to another level of intimacy and closeness. For that to happen at its most profound level it is crucial that the individuals involved have shared values, and beliefs, and experiences. For that reason many religious traditions encourage building such relationships only within the tradition

Yet, in today’s world people find themselves in intimate relationships with people with profoundly different spiritual experiences, even when they are from the same denomination. We are in such a relationship. Winnie’s experience is much more from the traditional Christian perspective, and Richard’s is much more ecumenical and cuts across religious, wisdom, and cultural traditions. These differences have caused much struggle and growth and maturity. It has taken the intimacy in our relationship to an even deeper level. We are committed to making what we share and teach help to bridge that gap and make the differences a source of growth and development on both sides.

The Work of Spiritual Growth

Sometimes someone captures a thought so well that we cannot improve on it. This passage from Scott Peck is one of those passages. It captures some basic assumptions behind this work.

One way or another, these concepts have been set forth before—by Buddha, by Christ, by Lao-t se, among many others. The originality of this book results from the fact that I have arrived at their same meaning through the particular individual byways of my twentieth-century life. If you require greater understanding than these modern footnotes have to offer, then by all means proceed or return to the ancient texts. Seek greater understanding, but do not expect greater detail. There are many who, by the virtue of their passivity, dependency, fear, and laziness, seek to be shown every inch of the way and have it demonstrated to them that each step will be safe and worth their while. This cannot be done. For the journey of spiritual growth requires courage and initiative and independence of thought and action. While the words of the prophets and the assistance of grace are available, the journey must still be traveled alone. No teacher can carry you there. There are no preset formulas. Rituals are only learning aids, they are not the learning. Eating organic food, saying five Hail Mary’s before breakfast, praying facing east or west, or going to church on Sunday will not take you to your destination. No words can be said, no teaching can be taught that will relieve spiritual travelers from the necessity of picking their own ways, working out with effort and anxiety their own paths through the unique circumstances of their own lives toward the identification of their individual selves with God. ***


Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Confucius

* Needleman, Jacob, Lost Christianity: A Journey of Rediscovery to the Centre of Christian Experience. (Rockport, MA: Element, Inc., 1980), Title.

** Needleman, Jacob, Lost Christianity: A Journey of Rediscovery to the Centre of Christian Experience. (Rockport, MA: Element, Inc., 1980), Subtitle.

*** Peck, M. Scott, M.D., The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), p. 311.

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