Roche MietteNewsletter
Quarterly of the Roche Miette Association
No.1, July 2001.

Contents

Roche Miette Rule - by Pritam
A bit of history - by Piotr Rajski
Pilgrimage 2001- by Piotr Rajski
Randy's thoughts
What do the participants say?
Pictures
What is meditation? - by Piotr Rajski
Rules of Contemplative Prayer - by Piotr Rajski
Assumptions of Contemplative Prayer - by Piotr Rajski
Meditation in everyday life - by Piotr Rajski
Why to meditate? - by Piotr Rajski
In His Presence - by Gary Horn
Inspiring Quotations - by Piotr Rajski
Final Comments


Roche Miette Rule

Moved by the beauty of the Roche Miette Mountain, representing an image of human face looking up toward God, we create, and promise to abide by, the set of spiritual principles known as the Roche Miette Rule.
 
1. We affirm that there is only one God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, all things that are seen and unseen - the Ultimate Reality.
2. This God, who since the beginning of the Creation sought to communicate with human beings and established numerous covenants (through Adam, Manu, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Zarathustra, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Nanak, Baha'u'llah, Babaji and many others), is also available to us in the silence of every human heart.
3. We believe that in Jesus Christ God gave us a glimpse into His true nature and offered the full and universal way to salvation. In the same time we also affirm that this self-gift of Love in Jesus Christ cannot be accompanied by any coercion. If we are Christians, we are Christians by our love and nothing else.
4. We affirm that every human being has a right to seek God in freedom of his/her choice and conscience. While sharing the love we feel in our hearts, we are open to other ways of expressing this love.
5. Through the Rule we do not attempt to create a new religion. We encourage people to follow the religions they were born in or acquired through their lives. 
6. We affirm though that the most important is the religion people follow in their hearts. We seek people to convert to God, who is Love, and not to convert each other.
7. As the Divine Mystery is beyond human comprehension, we avoid speculations, but rather try to move with love toward Him, who we cannot know. We love Him with all our hearts, all our minds and all our souls.
8. In the same manner we affirm the presence of God in every human being. We try to love our neighbors as ourselves, because God is present in their and our hearts. We learn to forgive and let go.
9. We practice the Presence of God in our lives. As God is a silent witness to our every thought, word and action, we practice proper thinking, speech and conduct.
 In particular, we try to avoid thoughts, words and actions that may hurt other human beings. We treat everyone with dignity, compassion and loving-kindness. We avoid harming any sentient beings.
10. As silence appears to be God's first language, we practice silence so in it we can hear God's voice. We avoid unnecessary talk. We commit ourselves to have two periods of at least 20 minutes of silence every day. During these periods we pray, meditate, contemplate, repeat God's Name, or offer other forms of devotion.
11. As God is holy, we also practice holiness. In particular, we try to maintain the purity of our bodies and environments. We bathe/shower twice a day, wear only clean clothes, work or exercise, spend time with natural fire and are careful about what we eat and drink. We fast and do other forms of penance according to the traditions, in which we were raised.
12. On our way to holiness we practice Truth, Simplicity and Love. Within these broad guidelines we may choose different orders of life: celibacy, marriage, spiritual community or renunciation.
13. We are independent, self-sufficient, dutiful and entrepreneurial. We are inspired by a desire to serve others and advance in life through work. We are never idle but work to the last breath.
14. We appreciate the gift of life, company of saints and a good laugh with our friends. We admire the incredible beauty of God's Garden. We see Him in the stars above, sun and moon, birds and flowers, and meditate on Him only.
15. To express our deep gratitude for all these gifts, and admiration for the beauty around us, once a year we make this holy pilgrimage to the Roche Miette Mountain. We welcome people of all religious denominations to share with us in the joy and pleasure of this auspicious endeavor.
16. On the top of the mountain let us join in silence and awe for God and the wonderful things He has made. Let us find this "unity beyond division," God intends for us all.

A Bit of History.

I first hiked Roche Miette Mountain with Randy Iwanciwski and Peter Bundscherer in 1998. On the top of the mountain I asked Randy why did he come there that day. Randy replied, "To receive the glory of God." I then realized that Randy is not a "regular" hiker. When we got to know each other a bit more it became apparent that we are soul mates. We share a belief that there is something utterly spiritual, if not mystical, in the majesty and beauty of mountains. It is not coincidental that mountains are believed to be the abode of gods in many cultures.

Also Peter Bundscherer happened to be a unique hiking partner. His love for the mountains is reflected in many pictures that Peter took himself and that you can see on the walls of his famous Queen's Bakery and Café in Hinton. With Peter we also share this passion for chess. Peter even managed to get married on a gigantic chessboard. That year we had a game of chess on top of the mountain, which quite likely was the game at the highest altitude played in Canada. Though not as overtly spiritual as Randy, or me, Peter has many traits of the "old souls" - he is always kind, ever joyous and pleasant to be with. On many occasion I saw him giving away the products of his hands (and no one makes napoleons or pretzels as Peter) with such a joy and happiness that only people who truly believe in the abundance of life are capable of.

In 1999 we hiked Roche Miette again making a commitment that we will try to do it once a year and that we should try to share the joy of this experience with others. I could not go in 2000 because of moving. However, in the beginning of 2001 Randy, who in the meantime developed the gift of locution, and was bursting with spiritual energy, visited me in Edmonton and brought up this idea again.

This is what gave birth to the Roche Miette Pilgrimage in 2001. I wrote the Roche Miette Rule to touch upon the intuitions that we wanted to express through these pilgrimages. Putting it simply, we believe that while in the mountains, especially around the beautiful Roche Miette, people can develop a taste for the beauty of God's Creation, regardless whether they have had any spiritual experiences before and regardless of their religious background. In other words, going to the mountains may make people more open to the fact that God is and to His message.

It is also a unique opportunity to create unity with people of other religions or denominations. Sense of the sacredness of mountains is available to everybody - it is only a matter of opening your eyes and hearts. By being in the mountains together, in silence and awe for God's Garden, we realize that first and foremost we are just humans and as humans we are all beloved children of God. (Piotr Rajski)

Pilgrimage 2001.

For the Pilgrimage 2001 we invited mostly our friends and associates trying to make sure that we can handle the logistics of this endeavor. First of all we wanted to be sure that we could get people up and down the mountain in a safe fashion. I took care of the promotion, while Randy, who assumed the role of the Technical Director, of accommodation, coordination, etc.

Nineteen people attended with us this year, which seems to be close to the optimal number of participants. Fifteen of these persons reached the top of Roche Miette. The group was quite diversified in many ways. Geographically, we had one visitor from Ukraine, two from USA, and people from Hinton and Edmonton. Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and English were being spoken interchangeably. People of different religious orientations or no orientation at all attended.

Regardless these diversities, the group remained quite cohesive. Peter induced a nice energy on Friday evening by offering free coffee and donuts for everyone. The accommodation in the basement of the Catholic Church, though simple, appeared adequate for all. The group cohesion was further advanced as they all had to suffer through Alex's snoring. Randy woke up everybody at 4:30 by playing his guitar. They all moved in a quite disciplined manner, so we were able to start our hike ahead of schedule.

Good humors and solidarity accompanied us on the ascent. For instance, Sabina carried the back sack of another person, who had some difficulties keeping with the group. People offered each other snacks and encouragement.

On the saddle we gave everyone a choice to either go to the top or to rest. Majority of the group, including our youngsters, decided to go. The upper part of the mountain is quite exposed, so some people visibly wondered if it was the right decision. This kind of stress can be quite therapeutic, I believe, as people cope with real and not imagined dangers. Still, everybody boldly made it to the top.

The weather cooperated beautifully. It was cool and cloudy on the ascent, while warm and sunny when we celebrated our victory on the top. During the only moment when it rained we were back in our cars on a way to Miette Hot Springs. Then again it became beautiful and sunny.

We soaked our soaring muscles in the hot springs and then had a dinner together. Those who did not have to go back, later joined Randy and me for fire, beer and singing at Mila's place.

After the hike I was very tired, and still inwardly very happy. Though we did not sit for a formal meditation as planned, I had the sense of God's Presence with us all the time. In my own meditation the word "safe" came prominently.

Everything, which happened that day, appeared good and appropriate. People were natural and supportive in their contacts. We did not "push" any "religious stuff" respecting the fact that people come near God at their pace. It is my experience that most of people I know have no difficulty if someone declares his or her religious affiliation. But to be with a person who truly believes in God (folks like Randy, or me) is quite a different matter. Believers bring with themselves a different perception of reality and it can be quite frightening for some.

Throughout the day, but especially during the days after the pilgrimage, we received a lot of positive feedback. Even, my dear friend Alex, after he was able to come to terms with his own fear, was willing to forgive me. According to him, my statement that the upper part of the mountain "was a bit more difficult" was in no proportion to his true experiences. What would be the life worth without a bit of thrill, Alex? (Piotr Rajski)
 

Randy's Thoughts.

Dear Piotr, I am very touched by your letter and how the pilgrimage advanced your life journey. As I reflected on the trip I came up with a few observations.

As Technical Director I found myself solely of service to our visitors, from greeting them on Friday to assisting during the climb and grieving their leaving and departure on Saturday night. I did feel that I was some sort of guide not just on a hike but something more. Perhaps this is just the Jesus experience that I needed.

I did sense my heartbeat and the rhythm of my body as I climbed, this synchronization is what the soul is connected to and we must adjust to tune into our being. I believe that once this harmony of our body is sensed, we can reach for the higher being of spirit, while our conscious mind is at peace directing it all. At this point of harmony God can easily communicate with us and we can hear and acknowledge. Hopefully this is what the others felt or were exposed to.

I know that we are all on this journey to God and we travel together but we are not at the same place on the trip. I do know that all of our clients were touched in some way by God, and you and I were just the instruments. As a guide I did feel this presence of God holding all of us on this trip, we all did receive His blessing!

You are Loved, Randy.
 

Feedbacks.
 
We want to thank you for the Roche Miette day. If you plan the same event or a similar event next year, we would be happy to join you guys. Thank you! Vadim, Natasha, Svetlana.
(Vadim Lastyvnyak is a freelance translator from English/French to Russian/Ukrainian, his wife Svetlana is a teacher of Ukrainian, while Natasha attends Grade 9)
I would like to tell you - thank you very much for the great opportunity to have such wonderful hiking and to be on the team with the nice people. We will never forget this event! We will gladly join you for the next year hiking, especially Max. Best regards to Randy Iwanciwski. Sincerely Igor, Elena and Max.
(Igor Boubnov is a software engineer, his wife Elena is a sales person; Max, 10, attends school. They have lived in Canada for two years.)
Hello Piotr, I would love to come on your hike some day.  It sounds like a wonderful experience.  I enjoyed my weekend with Fr. Thomas Keating.  There were 40 of us who listened to his teaching and were encouraged in our practice of Centering Prayer and cultivation of the contemplative life.  If you've never had an opportunity to hear him, try to do so some day.  You will be encouraged.
(Gary Horn is a thinker, interested in monastic life, especially of Thomas Merton, and a moderator of Merton-L Discussion Group. Gary is married and lives with his family in Minnesota. Though we have never met personally, we seems to share the same passion for truth and human unity. I hope Gary will join us next year.

Pictures From the Pilgrimage
 
Standing from left: Genia, Alex, Max, Sabina, Vladimir, Elena, Leszek, Neil, Barbara, Grazyna, Piotr, Natasha, Svetlana. Kneeling: Olga, Igor, Vadim, and Randy.  Missing(taking pictures):  Elzbieta, Peter.


More Pictures from the Pilgrimage 2001
 

What is Meditation?

There are many forms of meditation. With the exception of Buddhist meditation, they all seem to try to achieve the same goal - unity of the mind-body-spirit of the meditating person with God. It appears that the main obstacle for this unity is human mind. Though an extremely powerful instrument human mind has been misused and with time became too entangled with the material side of life. In the constant rush after money and fame, human mind became impatient, scattered and chattering. That is why it is very difficult for most of the people to achieve "peace of mind" and to hear God speaking to them in their hearts. Meditation attempts to undo this damage.

First objective of the most of meditative techniques is to "quiet the mind down." It can be achieved through many means. In Transcendental Meditation, originating by Shri Maharishi, the meditating person is asked to concentrate his attention on his breath. In Rebirthing or other body oriented therapies the similar effect is achieved through concentration on the strongest impulse coming from the body. Yet another popular method involves mantra, or as is the case in Centering Prayer, repetition of so called "sacred word."

Any word or a chunk of words may serve as a mantra, but many people believe it is best to repeat the Name of God. This is naturally a cultural issue, because God is known under different names in different cultures. In India the most popular are the mantras "Hare Krishna" and "Om Namaha Shivaya." Muslim people often repeat "Allahu Akbar" or "La Il'la Ha Illa Allah-hu." Christians are naturally drawn to the name of Christ, while Jewish people often repeat "Adonai Hu Ha-Elochim."

You may want to by-pass these cultural issues by using, as is recommended in Centering Prayer, the word "Lord" or "God." Sometimes people concentrate as well on certain attributes of God, such as "Love", "Mercy", etc. Perhaps it will help you to understand the process of meditation if I introduce the principles of the Christian based Contemplative or Centering Prayer. One of the most prominent proponents of this meditation is Fr. Thomas Keating, mentioned by Gary.

Rules of the Contemplative Prayer.

1. At the beginning of the prayer we take a minute or two to quiet down and then move in faith to God dwelling in our depths. () We center all our attention and desire on Him.
2. After resting for a bit in the center in faithful love, we take up a single, simple word that expresses our response and begin to let it repeat itself within.
3. Whenever in the course of the prayer we become aware of anything else, we simply gently return to the prayer word. We ignore the thoughts and images offered by the mind (). We leave them behind, for we want immediate contact with God Himself, and not some thought, image or vision of Him.
4. At the end we take several minutes to come out, mentally praying the Lord's Prayer.

Assumptions of the Contemplative Prayer.

1. God is our being. "God present in us, present all around us, is calling us to respond to His presence, His love, His caring."
2. Contemplation is a gift. "Every prayer is a response to a movement of grace, whether we are aware of it or not."
3. God is a mystery. "Thought cannot comprehend God. And so I prefer to abandon all I can know, choosing rather to love Him whom I cannot know."
4. Love is the only way. "Only love can touch God as He is in Himself."
5. Spiritual act is instantaneous. "As soon as we move in love to God present in our depths, we are there. There a perfect prayer of adoration, love and presence is."
6. Center contains everything. "When I make the journey to the Center, then I am where I can touch and be present to all that is, including God Himself."

To find more about Contemplative Prayer or to find the sources of the above quotations, please, have a look at my text - "Finding God in Silence."

Meditation in Everyday Life.

Now, you can try Contemplative Prayer, or other form of meditation, almost anywhere and anytime. I try to meditate for 20 minutes twice a day in my office. My first meditation takes place before I get engaged in any business or professional activities. The second part I try to do around 3 p.m. to remind myself what my life is about. This schedule changes a bit during weekends, but typically I manage to meditate in the morning, after my shower, and before I have any interaction with my family. Then the business of being husband and father takes over and it is not that easy to find a time. Still, almost everyday there are moments, sometimes only a couple of minutes, when I can close my eyes, take a few deeper breaths, and say silently "Lord."

Even, when this is not possible, I try to Practice the Presence of God using the method of XVI-century Carmelite, known as Brother Lawrence.  His only practice at some point was just talking to God inwardly, asking Him for advice, help, inspiration, etc. I discovered that I could do the same most of the time, that I do not lose contact with material reality, while I do this, and that I can without drawing anyone's attention.

Why to Meditate?

There are numerous advantages to meditation.

In His Presence.

The following are fragments of Gary Horn's book - "Written Rehearsals." (2000). Sweetlou Productions.

God has always been omnipresent, and regardless of the presence or absence of symbols or miracles. God is present today. But we often think, talk and live like He's not. ()

We are not ushered into God's Presence by our piety. He IS present, everywhere and all the time. He manifests Himself through the things He has made (Rom. 1:20) and through the people He inhabits. Most importantly, God is present in the heart of His child. We do not need to look for God and come into His Presence, because we already are. As Thomas Merton said, "He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves." Our task is to become aware of His immanent Presence in our lives, in the world around us, and in the people around us.

God wants His people to "wake up!" (p.11)

A Few Inspiring Quotations.

A federation of all religions and all nations is necessary. But such a union will come only when every individual engages in that meditation which leads to direct contact with God. Communion with Him is the solution. When one has realized God, he no longer feels that others are different from himself. Unless wisdom comes, not to just a few, but to all men, there will be no freedom on earth. Paramahansa Yogananda, Man's Eternal Quest, P.25.

To merge one's long separated consciousness with the Lord is the aim of human birth. If one does not pay attention to this task, or is careless about his spiritual advancement, he wastes this precious and golden opportunity in return for mere cowries and shells. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 2131.

It is inevitable that ideas will arise in your mind and try to distract you in a thousand ways. () To all of them you must reply, "God alone I seek and desire only Him." The Cloud of Unknowing, P.55.

The regular practice of contemplative prayer initiates a healing process that might be called the 'divine therapy.'  The level of deep rest accessed during the prayer periods loosens up the hardpan around the emotional weeds stored in the unconscious, of which the body seems to be the warehouse.  The psyche begins to evacuate spontaneously the undigested emotional material of a lifetime, opening up new space for self-knowledge, freedom of choice, and the discovery of the divine presence within.  As a consequence, a growing trust in God, a bonding with the Divine Therapist, enables us to endure the process." Keating, Thomas. Invitation to Love.

There is a force within that gives you life - seek that. In your body there lies a priceless jewel - seek that. Oh, wandering Sufi, if you search of the greatest treasure, don't look outside. Look within, and seek That. Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), a Sufi, quoted after: Novak Philip, The World's Wisdom, P.327.

At Judgment Day everyone will have to give an account for every good thing, which he might have enjoyed and did not enjoy. Talmud, quoted after: Novak Philip, The World's Wisdom, P.218.

You may find more of these quotations, many of them extremely beautiful, at One God Site.
 

Final Comments.

If you would like to send me your comments, please, e-mail me at prajski@telusplanet.net. You may request a printed copy of this newsletter if you click here. There are more pictures to come so you may want to bookmark this page to receive updates. It was a pleasure to do this hike/pilgrimage with you, and it would also be a pleasure if you wanted to meditate with me. I love you all.!

In Truth, Simplicity and Love, Piotr.

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