Tao Fong Shan Christian center has just published a collection of Spiritual exercises from the Courses and Retreats under the heading “CHRISTFULNESS”.
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.
The book can be ordered from TFSCC at firstname.lastname@example.org – Price 58 HKD