Nov 7 9:00 am

Are We Throwing Out the Spiritual Baby with the Religious Bathwater?

When we look around today, so many of us are troubled by the erosion of civility, the lack of kindness, and the utter selfishness that seems to pervade so many of our institutions.  We fret over how easily it has seeped into our everyday lives and we stand by as it flows freely out of our screens, out of our mouths, and down through our keyboards surprising even us with our own bad behavior.  I have a theory on how some of this has happened and how we, as parents, can start moving back to a place of kindness and better behavior. The good news is, it’s probably not as hard as you think.

Let’s start with the premise that organized religion has let us down.  Not the whole of it, but much of it.  Folks argue all the time about whether or not the world would be better off without religion and the truth is, the answer is easily yes and no. Religion has been the source of tremendous pain and suffering, but it has also been the driving force for a stunning amount of goodwill and service to mankind.

Religion has delivered to us many ancient pearls of wisdom […]

Oct 10 4:59 am

Preparing for Our School Year

Another school year is here! During the summer my son gets to relax, wake up and sleep late, eat breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast. Between home projects, summer trips and activities he indulges playing video games to his heart’s content.  As a parent, I am excited when this glorious moment arrives and my teen returns to school with a set schedule. I have learned that if I give my teen consistency, structure and guidelines it helps him to stay focused and know what is expected from him. With his schedule back in order, I feel that balance is restored to our home life.

A week before school starts our family starts preparing. My partner takes my son shopping for clothing and school supplies. I help him arrange his room and his study area. The night before school starts we check his school supplies and schedule twice to make sure we did not miss anything. Yet there are a few items that we could not purchase that he will need. Because I know he will need perseverance, confidence, self-esteem, and courage. If I could purchase these items I would buy them in bulk and make sure to pack them […]

Oct 10 4:43 am

The Most Auspicious Jain Festival: Paryushan

Paryushan literally means to retreat from all sides towards yourself. It is the biggest and most important of all festivals for Jains across the world. Each year we celebrate it for at least eight days retreating from all worldly matters as much as possible and taking the time to come closer to ourselves. It is a time for silence, contemplation, reflection and realization. It is a time to cleanse our soul through meditation, soul-searching, self-study, fasting, compassion, seeking and granting forgiveness, etc.

On the last day, Jains observe a unique custom, where they ask every individual they may have offended during the year for forgiveness… a forgiveness that is born out of immense inner work.

Forgiveness is a virtue celebrated as the ornament of the brave. So they fold their hands and say “Micchami Dukadam” seeking forgiveness. Michchhami means to be fruitless (forgiven) and Dukkadam (Dushkrut) means bad deeds. Therefore the meaning of Michchhami Dukkadam is may my bad deeds (with you) be fruitless.
The following is the prayer we say:

“KHAMEMI SAVVE JIVE,
SAVVE JIVA KHAMANTU ME
METTI ME SAVVE BHUYESU,
VERAM MAJAHAM N KENAI”

It means: “I forgive (from the bottom of my heart without any reservation) all living beings (who may have caused me any pain […]

Apr 17 10:00 am

Lord Mahavira, the Courageous One

Over 2500 years ago, circa 599 BC, Queen Trishla gave birth to a divine child. He was named Vardhaman, which means ever-growing, because from the time of His conception, the wealth, power, prosperity and glory of the royal family and the kingdom grew in leaps and bounds.

The young Prince’s exemplary courage and fearlessness earned Him the title of Mahavira – the courageous one. Not only had this young boy won over poisonous snakes and wild elephants, but more importantly, he had conquered inner beasts such as venomous anger and unstoppable//raging desires. And thus, for the world, this young boy redefined courage as the ability to recognize and win over inner enemies, and choosing forgiveness and love each time.

Prince Vardhaman embraced monkhood, leaving behind the material luxuries of the palace for a higher spiritual wealth. For about 12 years, He peacefully observed penances, demonstrating astounding inner strength and resilience. He attained omniscience and became a Tirthankara, one who establishes and expounds the path to moksha (liberation) Thus, He propounded the eternal religion of the Jinas, the spiritual victors who have conquered all inner enemies.

The teachings of the Jinas are collectively called ‘Jainism’ and one follows these teachings is a ‘Jain’. […]

Feb 29 2:11 am

Progressive Youth Ministry 2016 – The Aftermath

This February, I found myself deep in the heart of Dallas, Texas for the Progressive Youth Ministry 2016 conference (PYM16). Attending on behalf of Spiritual Playdate, this 3-day conference is specific to progressive youth ministers and youth leaders to exchange ideas, come together for worship, and to network. And let me tell you, it was a blast!

There is so much to tell regarding PYM16, but that would require an essay of great proportion. Instead, I’ll go over the theme, my favorite speakers, and my highlights:

The theme for PYM16 was Faith in an Age of Reason, which prompted an evangelical opening sermon from The Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas where he challenged all of us to passionately lift our voices during the storm of life and to be in the presence of holding onto the divinity of our faith. Furthermore, he encouraged us to be “radically queer,” by which he proposed that we re-identify our image of [g]od and in turn, re-ignite our spirit. Talk about an invigorating way to kick-off a youth ministry conference! And of course, it followed with none other than Rev. Yolanda, a drag queen who sings Old Time Gospel and is now a dear friend of mine.

The rest of the conference seems […]

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