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Images and Reflections IV: Painted Windows
( Painting on the side of a building in
I lived in a house
with two real windows and the other two painted on.
Those painted windows caused my first sorrow.
I'd touch the sides of the hall
trying to reach the windows from inside.
I spent my whole childhood wanting
to lean out and see what could be seen
from the windows that weren't there.
- Gloria Fuertes (of
Vivía en una casa
con dos ventanas de verdad y las otras dos pintadas
en la fachada.
Aquellas ventanas pintadas fueron mi primer dolor.
Palpaba las paredes
intentando encontrar las ventanas por dentro.
Toda mi infancia pasé con el deseo
de asomarme para ver lo que se veía
desde aquellas ventanas que no existieron.
- Gloria Fuertes (de Madrid)
Spiritual Rebellion: Interview with Leonardo Boff
by Henrike Müller (*)
Photo available see below
(Dieses Feature/Interview ist auch auf
Deutsch verfügbar.) "Is it possible to live calmly and
happily when you know that two-thirds of human beings are suffering, hungry and poor?" The
Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, one of the founders of liberation theology, believes that the
cry of the poor and the cry of the earth are real offences for any theology which struggles to
bring about more justice. Boff was one of the guests at the World Forum for Theology and Liberation
prerequisites for a theology committed to social change and about his confidence that change is
Reflections at the World Forum for
Theology and Liberation do not concentrate on one single region
but look at the whole world. Liberation theology however had its beginnings in the particular
The protest of Liberation theology against
suffering is not limited to a single region. Every kind
of repression, every cry of the poor, of the oppressed, of the marginalised anywhere in the world
is an appeal to theology. Of course this presupposes that the cries are heard. But is it possible
to live in peace and happily when you know that two-thirds of human beings are suffering, hungry
To be human we have to have compassion. This
solidarity is really the defining factor of
our humanity and is gradually being lost in a culture of material values. Its not only the cry of
the poor we must listen to but also the cry of the earth. The earth and human beings are both
threatened. We must do something to change the situation there wont be a Noahs
some of us.
Is change possible?
To meet peoples fundamental concerns
change is needed. The world as it is does not offer the
majority of humanity life but rather hell. I believe that change is possible, because I cannot
accept a God who could remain indifferent to this world, but only one who cares about the poor and
the suffering. Gods grace gives us strength to resist, strength to liberate, opens up new ways.
Grace can be seen quite clearly in our world. The grace of the living God is at work everywhere
that life is protected and defended.
The world has not changed for the
better, and the desire for liberation is still there - all over
the world. And yet in countries like
Liberation theology only serves a purpose if
the issues of justice, of the fate of the poor and the
oppressed become real challenges for faith. It presupposes that we have sensitivity to the
relevance of the issues of todays world. If theology has no feeling for reality then it may
perhaps be of some use for the church, for those interested in academic courses, for ensuring a
certain intellectual discourse. But it has little to do with the living God who acts through
history and it will contribute little to changing our world.
Can this kind of sensitivity be reawakened?
To do that you have to look at the way the
world is going. For instance whoever sees television
images of the worlds poverty, of wars, catastrophes and economic crises, will be able to tell that
our world has fallen into deep disorder and that we have to protest against that. Liberation
theology and any theology committed to social change presupposes this spiritual rebellion.
Do you think that this kind of
liberation theology committed to social change could take root
long-term even in
Liberation theology takes quite specific
oppression as its starting point. This can also be
discovered in ones own context. Whats the situation in
they have? Whats the situation for people who are poor and socially disadvantaged? How are they
treated by the population and by social institutions? This is the immediate challenge of any
You have particularly highlighted the
protection of creation as a key issue for contextual
theology. Doesn't this mean that the options are further reduced for those who were originally at
the centre of liberation theologys concerns?
Both are inextricably linked together. With
the phrase "Justice, peace and the integrity of
creation" the World Council of Churches found a metaphor that brought together the great ideals of
the world. The three dimensions cannot be separated. Without justice life together is not possible.
Peace means having good and just relations with other people, other cultures, with nature and with
God. And integrity of creation is the foundation. If we destroy creation then all other projects
are impossible. For me this triple affirmation is like a short summary of the good news of the
gospel. And even if it is in the nature of utopia to never quite be achievable it nevertheless
shows us the way forward like a compass and motivates us to not give up.
In a years time the World Council
of Churches will be holding its 9th Assembly here in
Alegre, with the theme "God, in your grace, transform the world". What do you see as the work of
the worlds largest ecumenical fellowship as it prepares for this?
I think its important that religion
awakens and nourishes peoples spirituality. The spiritual
dimension expresses the deep experience of the spirit, the experience of being and of God in the
world. This spirituality is an innate part of every human being and is not the monopoly of
organised religion. For me the task of religion is to open up spaces for human spirituality. If we
can achieve that then humanity will be more compassionate, more humane, show more in solidarity.
Once again the forces of nature, the laws of
science, the randomness of existence has taken it's
toll upon the earth and some of it's inhabitants. Once again, suffering, death and sickness have
manifested themselves upon the innocents. There is a great sadness out of the silence of now: a
part of me has perished. This is nothing new. This happens everyday in our streets, our cities, our
homes. There is no rhyme or reason to it: it just happens.
While our hearts are filled with sorrow, let
us reach out in any way we can to help those who are
helpless. We are one entity, one consciousness and one earth. There is no person or god causing
this tragedy except the power of the universe itself in complete randomness. Now is not the time to
pray to mythic beings for salvation, now is the time to be and to live, to help and to heal and to
realize that there is no separation between us: we are one.
No matter when or where a tragedy may
strike, let us know without any doubt, that existence
continues, that life will go on, with us or without us. Let us come to enjoy every moment we do
have together and live that moment fully, honestly, in compassion, love and in truth. That is all
we must do; this is our only obligation. Live this moment now and be the best you can be in
whatever you do, as if it is your last moment and live and breath from the depths of who you are:
the gentle silence of the loving now. There is nothing more.
May the gentleness of truth dawn upon all
minds still filled with ignorance and in the shadows of
confusion. May those suffering soon find peace and joy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Twelve Inquiries?
The Twelve Inquiries are a liberation teaching. A liberation teaching is written, formal and participatory instruction that when studied, practiced and lived cultivates ultimate realization, enlightenment or awakening.
Inquiries One through Nine are the process for changing behavior in order to live life fully as a liberated human being. Inquiries Ten through Twelve are direct liberation instruction.
What is the purpose of the Twelve Inquiries?
The primary purpose of the Twelve Inquiries is ultimate realization of the natural state, which includes a way of life that demonstrates serving, sharing and caring through the use of ones innate strengths, gifts and talents. Other terms for ultimate realization are enlightenment, awakening and liberation.
In the most ultimate sense, what is called enlightenment, awakening, or liberation is to stop imagining oneself to be confined to a body. When one realizes that both seeking and finding are within one, the search stops and the deepest truth of who one is, is realized. One suddenly has profound knowledge, insight and understanding with no image, no concept and no thought of it. This is called the natural state and one knows it as oneself. Rather than being confined to ones body, one realizes one is inclusive of everything.
What is inquiry?
It is both the act of inquiring and a close examination of a matter in a search for truth. The Twelve Inquiries uncover the truth that was never covered or hidden: our natural state. Inquiry involves asking questions, investigating and discussing insights, and deeply reflecting on the natural state.
What is the natural state?
The natural state is simply being human at the most extraordinary and optimal level. The natural state is extreme clarity and benevolence with its own intelligence. What this means in practical terms is that to be enlightened is to be extremely clear and actively engaged in a life of serving, sharing and caring.
What is point of view?
Point of view is using the inherent clarity of the natural state to focus attention in a manner that dims clarity. The natural state is all that is and all we are. When the natural state focuses attention, conscious awareness of the fullness of the natural state can seem limited. A point of view is focusing the power and attention of our natural state, at the exclusion of all else, on ideas, thoughts, belief systems, assumptions, goals and stories; feelings, emotions, intuitions; sensations; activities, events, circumstances; people, including our own body/mind; things. Point of view is who we have taken ourselves to be. We get clear on the natural state by understanding the mechanism of point of view and, as we do, extreme clarity is revealed.
I already have a teacher. Why should I study the Twelve Inquiries?
In Twelve Inquiries gatherings we are supported in living as the natural state by an awakened teacher and by other participants. We cultivate respect for a wide variety of teachers and teachings. The Twelve Inquiries give us the freedom to explore any of these while maintaining the Twelve Inquiries as the fundamental infrastructure for ultimate realization of the natural state that will always be with us no matter the other resources we explore. In the Twelve Inquiries teaching, we learn to truly understand who an awakened teacher is and what it is they offer through deeply accepting who we are and what we offer.
How will I benefit from study of the Twelve Inquiries?
Extreme clarity and benevolence with its own intelligence is the result of studying the Twelve Inquiries. Practically, this means one is fully present and on purpose in each moment of now. Each moment is lived with the full force of clarity that enables one to take care of oneself, interact beneficially with others and serve the world one lives in. One becomes aware of innate strengths, gifts and talents and realizes how to use them with maximum effectiveness and service.
Where can I study the Twelve Inquiries?
The Twelve Inquiries are taught in three-day and ten-day
intensives held throughout each year at Great Freedom Sanctuary,
which is located in the midst of a sculpture garden overlooking
Where can I get more information on the Twelve Inquiries?
For more information: call 415.868.2544
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