“Ways of Knowing”

Worship Script 2 for August



Worship Script (2 of 4)

 

Hindu and Buddhist Ways of Knowing

 

OPENING WORDS

Look to This Day from Vedic poet Kalidasa (5th Century CE)


Let us look to this day.
It is life – the true life of life.

In its brief course lie all the verities
   and realities of our existence:
The bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty.
For yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is but a vision –
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and
  every tomorrow a vision of hope.
So let us look well to this day.
 

HYMN #398 To See The World In a Grain of Sand [sing twice through]

 

FIRST READING

Excerpts from the Kalama Sutta, When You Know for Yourselves
 

"Come, Kalamas. Do not base your beliefs upon beliefs you hear people commonly repeat; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in religious scriptures; nor upon logic or inference or probabilities; nor upon some previous conclusions; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor because your teacher says so. Kalamas, when you know in yourself that some beliefs about life lead to good; that some beliefs about life are blameless; that some beliefs are praised by the wise; that some beliefs, if undertaken and observed, will lead to well-being and happiness, then enter in and abide in such beliefs.”

 

SECOND READING
Arjuna’s Vision of Krishna, Excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11

Wind, Death, Fire, Water, Moon, Living Beings, Creation, Primal Being, Foundation of All Things, Knower and Known – that is my universal form, primordial and endless. No one can see me in this form by knowledge, sacred texts, sacrifices, study, generous acts, rituals, or austerity – but only through devotion to me alone, through love of me alone, without other desire, without ill will toward any creature at all – then, knowing, you come to me.

 

HYMN #352 Find A Stillness

 

STORY FOR ALL AGES
A Cup of Tea, a Zen Story by Sandeep Mallya

Once upon a time, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them with teachings of Zen. He never turned anyone away.

One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master.

“I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment.”

The tone of the important man’s voice was one used to getting his own way.

The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man.

Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?”

The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest.

“You are like this cup of tea, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.”

 

MEDITATION

Adapted by Emily DeTar Birt from Steven Smith’s Loving Kindness Meditation

Breathe in and out slowly. Breathe in and out, and create a kind feeling towards yourself.

[pause to breathe]

As you breathe, reflect on these words. [pause after every phrase]

May I be safe and protected.
May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.

As you continue to breathe in and out, think of someone who gives you unconditional love. They could be a lover, a parent, a mentor, or a friend. As you breathe, reflect on these words. [pause after every phrase]


May they be safe and protected.
May they be free of physical pain and suffering.
May they be healthy and strong.
May they be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.


Finally as you continue to breathe in and out, radiate loving kindness out to all beings. As you breathe, reflect on these words. [pause after every phrase]

 

May all beings be free from inner and outer harm and danger.
May all beings free of physical pain and suffering.
May all beings be healthy and strong.
May all beings be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.

Let us take a few moments of silence to breathe into this loving kindness.

[pause for a few moments]

You may open your eyes when you are ready.

 

CANDLES OF JOY AND CONCERN

Those who are so moved are now invited to come forward to light a candle, expressing a joy or concern in their lives.  As you do, you may briefly share what it is.  We ask that people coming forward speak for no more than a sentence or two, and speak from the heart about issues in their lives, rather than political issues, which we can take up at coffee hour or in the parking lot.

 

SERMON

Science and the Sacred

by Lynn Strauss

The most profound truths about what it means to be human belong to both science and religion. The deepest questions, the most challenging mysteries are shared by philosophers, theologians, physicists, and astronomers alike.

Curiosity, the search for truth, and the joy of discovery are crossover experiences. All three motivate our personal lives, our work lives, our thinking and reading lives because we humans seek to understand that which we cannot see. We hold faith in things unseen; we write our faith in mathematical equation or chemical formula; we speak our faith in prayer and meditation.

Unseen things include love, gravity, black holes, evil, hope, and joy, to name a few. We can see the evidence of these things. We see expressions of love, acts of evil, effects of gravity, and the dancing and singing of joy. But we believe in their existence even when we can’t see them.

Professor of astrophysics and Hubble Fellow Adam Frank in his book, The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate, writes:

Science and spiritual endeavor are both gateways. They are not the same. They are not equivalent. But both arise from the same ancient location in our history and our being.

The ancient location that Frank points to is the position of the human being as observer and storyteller. Both science and religion rely on observation of the world and all its wonders. Both science and religion rely on story, myth, and narrative to make sense of what has been observed.

Historian of religion Mircea Eliade explored the universality of myth, ritual, and the sacred across cultures. He created the category of hierophany for manifestations of the sacred. Sacred refers to things set apart and worthy of reverence. Eliade suggests three universally human questions that aid us in our search for the sacred:

1. Who are we?

2. Where do we come from?

3. Where are we intended to go?

Religion and science both explore these questions. Through observation and narrative, both disciplines search for truth and meaning.

We 21st century UUs continue to seek after Eliade’s great questions of the meaning of life and death. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we intended to go? The answers are still open; revelation is not sealed. Like the astrophysicists, like Einstein, we still search for origins and the meaning of it all.

Adam Frank speaks of the impulse to understand—this essential human urge to search for truth. He calls it “The Constant Fire.” It is, he says, the aspiration to know what is essential, what is real, what is true.

This was the Constant Fire of men and women working at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory for 40 years. This is the Constant Fire that brings us back again and again to our faith. It is the desire to know. The passion to know what is real, what is true.

Ancient myth and classic literature are evidence of this Constant Fire in the human breast. We yearn to understand—ourselves and our world, the universe and the multi-verse. We wake each morning hoping for a sighting of the sacred, a heirophany. We wake ready to take on the world with our questions, with our quest for meaning.

Each morning I wake hoping to watch the sunrise. Each morning I wake searching for an experience of the sacred. Each morning I wake with deep questions on my heart.

We are observers, writing and telling the story of the universe, the story of humanity. What a gift, what a joy to dwell in the house of the sacred. To reach the furthest points in the galaxy and beyond. To hear the chirp of black holes colliding and detect gravitational waves from a billion light-years away.

To acknowledge nature as a source of the sacred in our lives requires each of us to live a new ethic, one of care and compassion for the earth, the universe, and all human and animal kind. An ethic of reverence for life.

Science and the sacred will together lead us on a path of love of life. And what we love we will protect. What we love we will honor. What we love we will pass on to our children’s children.

Rainer Maria Rilke writes, in Letters to a Young Poet:

Here, where I am surrounded by an enormous landscape, which the winds move across as they come from the seas, here I feel that there is no one anywhere who can answer for you those questions and feelings which, in their depths, have a life of their own; for even the most articulate people are unable to help, since what words point to is so very delicate, almost unsayable. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

May we find joy in living our way into the answers.

 

HYMN #184 Be Ye Lamps unto Yourselves [sing twice through]

 

BENEDICTION

May All Beings from The Loving Kindness Teaching (Metta Sutta) and the Bodhisattva Vows
 

May all beings live in consciousness and bliss.
May all strengthen and grow.
May our views not be narrow or fixed.
May our wills be liberated from hate and ill-wishes.
May our hearts not be ruled by craving or by fear.
May we not deceive or harm.
May all spirits be free and pure.
With boundless mindfulness, may we cherish all.
As a mother protects her child with her life,
so may we take care of all that live.
May all beings live in consciousness and bliss.
May we strengthen and grow and be whole.