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One of the final exercises in the Spiritual Nomads course is to come up with a list your moral values. Over the years, I have written and refined a personal credo, but that is about beliefs rather than values. I have also written about the concept of a moral compass, that internal voice that will keep us moving toward the Divine if we will just listen and follow. I have argued that the Wiccan Rede is about as much moral guidance as needs to be written. "An it harm none, do as ye will."

There's a part of me that says my list is one word long, and that the word is 

Ahimsa
As much as I love and strive toward my practice of ahimsa, I don't love the word or any of it's translations, or maybe I don't love the limitations of language and the human mind. Why is it that the most important value has no intrinsic word? Why must it be expressed as the negation of something bad? Himsa means harm or violence. a- means no or non. Just as we have to say non-violence and harm none in English, we have to say ahimsa in Sanskrit.

Sometimes, I describe myself as a woman of peace. I don't know if it quite conveys the same thing, but at least peace is a positive term. It holds its own space.

Lately, I have come to add more words to my list of values--

Lovingkindness


Sometimes I call it love, but there are so many shades of love that I think lovingkindness is closer to what I mean. This is what the Buddhists call metta, and it is the love that encircles compassion and care for all living beings. Ahimsa alone is not enough. We must nurture as well as protect. We must reach out in addition to holding ourselves in peace.

When we turn our lovingkindness toward the Goddess, we practice

Devotion


Cain, I am drawn to the Sanskrit word bhakti, because it describes the vibrant kind of devotion that I strive to practice. Chanting kirtan to the Goddess, sacred ecstatic dance, and making ritual. I don't just think about the Goddess, I get out there and bring my devotion to Her. There is also room in this value meditation, quieter rituals, mountains I've climbed, and for all the worlds that I've written in this journal and its predecessors.
Seva

Seva is another Sanskrit word, translated as service. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) has given a beautiful definition of Seva: Being there as the need arises. I am grateful for my mother who lived a life of service and taught me the joy of using what privilege and resources we have in life to be of service to others.
Joy

After all these very serious values, I must sprinkle the glitter of joy over all of them. I'm sure all languages have a word for it, but I'll take my joy in my mother tongue. Life must be lived with joy and willingness. All the values in the world aren't real unless that are done with joy, and filled with bliss. Nothing has meaning unless it comes from the heart, with great willingness.

It's been quite a journey for me, this Spiritual Nomads course. Dianne Sylvan has the gift of articulating the questions that I need to ask myself in order to understand and express what I believe. Because of this course, I have a better understanding of my path and of myself. 
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athenagrey

June 2012

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