Christfulness in Chinese
Tao Fong Shan Christian Center has just published a collection of spiritual exercises from the Courses and Retreats under the heading ‘CHRISTFULNESS’.
The book can be ordered from TFSCC at firstname.lastname@example.org – Price 58 HKD
適逢踏進道風山開山九十週年紀念，得蒙道風山挪威差會亞略巴古的鼎力支持，本山將奧勒牧師「基督滿全」日常靈修操練法之中文教材集合成書。除了在引言中介紹「什麼是靈性」以及在總結中以「身體禱告」作默想練習外，本書主要分為五大部分簡介「基督滿全」以及其四大面向：基督與我一起(Christ with me)、基督在我裡面(Christ in me)、基督在你裏面(Christ in you)和我們在基督裏面(Together in Christ)。每章輔以四則「基督滿全」靈修操練資料，供讀者修習。
第二章 基督與我一起(Christ with me)
第三章 基督在我裡面(Christ in me)
第四章 基督在你裏面(Christ in you)
第五章 我們在基督裏面(Together in Christ)
Faith is a desperate act. At certain times, nothing testifies to the promises of faith. When the word reaches you that someone you know died, the memories of the close ones you lost bursts forward. It blows to pieces the protecting covers that you have built to contain the pain. The grief returns with a power that is almost as strong as the day she passed away. In this very blast of sadness, the fragility of your own life also becomes evident. You live, and one unknown day you are gone.
The ridicule of faith also reveals itself when we realize the injustice and suffering around us. The inequality of wealth leaves us without words. How can it be that some few people can control most of the riches and resources of our world? Indifferent leaders crush the hopes of more political freedom with a shrug. Soldiers use rape and abuse as weapon of war. A world that we believed would move forward to humanity is today taking consistent steps back to the most ruthless heritage of our past.
The pain is also inside. The wounds inflicted by a brutal and insensitive father just reject to heal. They remain a lifelong cause of suffering and mental confusion that we cannot control. Many times, it steers us in directions we do not want to go. An uncontrollable power forces us to go to places where nothing awaits us but our own destruction.
Buddhism represents the wisdom tradition and religion that accepts this situation as real. It teaches us that the longing, striving and craving to change this condition only adds to the pain. It therefore invites us, as a decisive step on the way to peace, to accept this situation as real. The emptiness that mindfulness seeks is a state of mind and body that admits this reality. It is neither an abstract nothingness nor a destructive and negative denial of values. It is an insight into and acceptance of how life is.
This insight is not unbiblical. The first words of Ecclesiastes read, “’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless,’” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). The biblical teacher continues to proclaim how the wheel of life continues to turn with no purpose. There is nothing new under the sun.
The coming of Christ, and thus Christfulness, is not an escape from this reality. Christ represents God’s action when approaching this reality seriously – and lovingly. Christ is not a hero or a king solving the problems of human reality with his might. He is essentially the embodiment of this human condition, of this pain, this desolation, this poverty – this desperation. It is only when seeing this reality as it is incarnated in Christ, that we can catch a glimpse of that which supersedes it. In the vulnerability of the human condition we can learn to see the possibility a love that transcends this reality.
Christfulness, seen in this way, presupposes mindfulness. To experience Christ can only happen through accepting the emptiness of existence, and, in that very wisdom, to be imbued by a stubborn hope for release. Somehow, the eastern and western traditions meet in this experience.
Faith is a desperate act. Christfulness is a practice that can give us strength to cling to the hope that says that goodness, fellowship, and love is a possibility in the world as it is. The Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge has given expression to this insistent hope that is inherent in human reality.
IT IS THAT DREAM
It is that dream we carry within us
that something wonderful will happen
that it has to happen –
that time will open up
that the heart will open up
That doors will open up
that the rock will open up
that springs will burst forth –
that the dream will open up
that we one morning moment shall slowly sail
into a bay we did not know were there
 Olav H. Hauge, «Det er den draumen», in, Dropar i austavind (1966).
The English word Christfulness sounds like Mindfulness – even though it is a biblical concept (Ephesians 4:13). This similarity is intentional, because I wanted to introduce Christian spirituality and understanding of human nature into a milieu where people seek spiritual practices – whether secular or religious – that might improve their wellbeing in body, mind and spirit.
Christfulness was first introduced at spiritual fairs (expos) in Denmark. In the West inspiration has come from the East for attaining a holistic wellbeing. Practices of a religious origin were transformed and even secularized. Thus, Mindfulness has been introduced to the West as a nonreligious practice to cope with stress and pain. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism as a part of the noble eightfold path leading to enlightenment, and Buddhist teachers have generously shared mindfulness with non-Buddhists as a means to greater awareness – without introducing the whole “program” and without proselytism. In the West mindfulness is not seen in the wider context of enlightenment. The main idea is to reduce stress and to manage pain. To some practitioners this is a fully secularized practice that is often combined with other practices, e.g. cognitive therapy and positive psychology and positive pedagogy – and in this secularized form it has come back to the East. However, in the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at University of Massachusetts that introduced Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction they operate with two epistemologies – that of dharma and that of science, medicine, and psychology. Thus you may expect to meet a worldview and understanding of human nature that is influenced by Buddhist thoughts and experience. Other teachers and practitioners are unaware of what worldview and understanding of human nature that may or may not be involved in practicing mindfulness.
We present our spiritual practices as Christfulness in this arena of secularized and religious spiritualities to be totally transparent of the basis for our spiritual practices. When we use Christfulness as a term for Christian spirituality we set our practices within a specific Christian worldview and understanding of the human person. We state that we practice our faith with a specific aim: we are aiming at maturity and unity of humans in relation to one another and in relation to the surrounding world. Thus, Christfulness can be understood as a spiritual process towards maturity and wholeness – in traditional Christian language this is a process of sanctification – a process that starts at the individual level but is only fulfilled in relation to others and to God.
We follow 4 phases as it will be described in the book
- an experience of God’s love in Christ as a protecting and accompanying presence (Christ in me)
- an experience of “Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Christ in me)
- an experience of seeing Christ or the image of God in others (Christ in you), and
- a vision of a redeemed mankind as the body of Christ (Me/us/together in Christ).
We emphasise the Christian content of our spiritual practices not to exclude others or to devaluate other practices. We think we have much to learn from meeting the spirituality of other peoples of faith as well as from secularised forms of spirituality. We recognize the good results in stress reduction and coping with pain, not least in Mindfullness Based Stress Reduction. We recognise some of our own practices and similar experiences in what are shared from other practices than our own. And we invite others to practice with us.
We hope together with people from other traditions to meet in an open space for generous sharing. We know that many people have found a common ground in meditating together even though coming from different backgrounds. We likewise want our own spiritual practice to bring about such an open space and meeting place, and it is exactly for this reason that we emphasize our basis in Christian faith. This transparency and honesty give our guests and fellow pilgrims in spirituality the right to be themselves as they are invited to take part in our spiritual life.
Thus, you are welcome. We offer you to drink of the water of life that we ourselves have tasted. We want to share with you what has made our hearts whole.
Jesus taught us not to be stressed, not to worry, because God is loving-kindness, and each one of us is a loved child of God. Come, let us join in a spiritual journey together.
Christfulness® is an expression of faith, but Christfulness is also an interpretation of life with roots in the Bible and Christian theology. In this combination of practice and teaching, Christfulness is also experience. Therefore, the author of Christfulness, Ole Skjerbæk Madsen, sometimes describes Christfulness as the practice that leads to the experience of us being in Christ and of Christ being in us: ”I want to describe a process that moves from an individual experience to a vision of the redemption of mankind and the healing of our planet – in a constant interaction between the individual and the relational, the personal and the universal.” For many years Ole Skjerbæk Madsen has been a Missions Pastor in Areopagos and the leader of In the Master’s Light, who wants to build bridges between the church and people who are curious about spirituality. After his retirement, Ole Skjerbæk Madsen served for 2 years as a Missions Pastor at Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre in Hong Kong.
This book gives you an introduction to practise Christfulness:
Rev. Ole Skjerbæk Madsen
Christfulness has its origins in the experience that God is with us, and comes to life in Christ. Just as the word of God became flesh in Jesus Christ, so we in Christ are given access to the nature of God. This book explains Christfulness as an expression of faith, a spiritual experience and an attitude to life. The book is not just a theoretical work, but also encompasses practical experience.
The content has been influenced by practice, and will also give the reader an insight into my own spiritual life. You will see this most evidently through the so called “inspirations” – passages which are my own experiences of God’s – as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – communication of God self to me during prayer and quietness in God’s presence. The second section of the book contains a description of how we practice Christfulness.
Price: $10.12 – Ships in 3-5 business days