An online practitioners group, including online teachings and discussion, supplemented by one-on-one email correspondence with a CSS teacher, is available for Center members who have completed the CSS Foundation Studies Course, completed at least one year of the CSS Practitioners Group (or its equivalent in the Bishop or Anacortes groups), attended a CSS fall retreat, or completed phase III of the CSS Distance Studies Course. If you satisfy at least one of these prerequisites and you are a current CSS member (or are willing to renew your membership), then you are eligible to join the online group.
In the 2015-2016 year, from November to August, CSS teacher Matt Sieradski will be leading the online group, starting in November, with monthly video conferencing meetings, recorded audio and video lectures, and group blog discussion. Required participation entails watching or listening to lectures, attending video conferencing class (dates/times to be chosen as a group), and making one blog entry and one blog comment per month.
The online practitioners group will be based on original material that Matt has been developing. Using the traditional Eastern mystical arrangement of the chakra system as a foundation, the Eight Gates of Freedom are a teaching and practice tool that helps us to understand different types of spiritual experiences and how they relate to one another, the path itself, and the goal of final freedom.
The Eight Gates of Freedom are: Love, Balance, Creativity, Peace, Intelligence, Bliss, Wisdom, and Liberation. These are qualities inherent within Being itself, as manifest through the human experience. Cultivating them is the essence of spiritual practice, and their perfection is the fruit of Enlightenment. They thus form the context and the content of our true nature and the means to reclaim it.
Understanding these elements of Reality gives us the ability to engage with different practices and mystical systems while recognizing how they relate to the Great Work at hand. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this arrangement is the detail with which the relative and absolute aspects of mystical cultivation can be reflected upon. While it is true that we are always already that which we seek, in what way does that absolute identity become refracted through the lens of relative experience?
The fundamental inquiry -- Being free already, how does one manifest as bound? -- is the driving force behind the development of the Eight Gates arrangement, and it is through taking this query upon ourselves that we can find both the keys to lasting peace and happiness, and the tools to uproot that which still limits us.
Class will be based around monthly lectures that will be recorded on video and audio-only formats, presenting and developing the original material on the Eight Gates. Interim classes will entail group discussion and practice-oriented suggestions. Suggested practices will include: Daoist meditation and basic qigong, compassion practices, choiceless awareness, and inquiry. We will also be introducing Sanskrit chanting as a way to tune into the energy centers of the body and connect with the vibratory field of consciousness.