Tag Archives: spiritual

Light from a dark age

It was a “dark age” in the western Europe of the 13th century when pandemics, population decline and economic degradation prevailed. Most people had moved into villages and towns sharing crowded rooms with family members and livestock. With little or no sanitation or semblance of hygiene the stench would have been unbearable for sensitive modern noses.

The exodus from the countryside was exacerbated by repeated crop failures caused by the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanic eruptions and changes in Arctic ice cover. With temperatures dropping for centuries this meant that the winters were particularly long and harsh.

Periods of crisis and challenging external circumstances sometimes force humanity into introspection with the dark ages having brought forth some of the greatest Mystics at the forefront of an individual inward-looking spirituality. The popes and bishops were meanwhile offering little comfort to ordinary people, preoccupied with political power struggles and worldly pleasures.

Pilgrimage walks to Santiago de Compostela

During these times pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela became popular as an inner journey of penance, spiritual rebirth and renewal. The modern-day pilgrim on the Camino is in many respects no different. Spirituality as opposed to religious doctrine is by far the primary motivation, based on my own research and conversations with hundreds of pilgrims on my more than dozen walks on pilgrimage routes in northwestern Spain.

The wise teachings of the 13th-century Dominican monk Meister Eckart (1260-1328), Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) and Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) are timeless and more topical than ever during these pandemic times. They were the eco-warriors and holistic healers of their time, addressing issues of personal health, nutrition and the environment.

It took the disruption of a global pandemic to remind us that we can be exposed overnight to entirely new circumstances beyond our control. Life can be extremely fragile and uncertain. The mental health repercussions resulting from isolation and lockdowns are only gradually coming to the fore.

A formula for a life of bliss

The Mystics are clear on how to lead a life of bliss. Meister Eckart describes at least five stages of evolution in elevation of consciousness to the “new” man – the “birth of the son” or “birth of God” in the soul. The entire purpose of life he describes as the journey to self-realization and meaning:

  • Contemplation and meditation
  • Doing what is right and acting accordingly
  • Dedication and Love of God
  • Recognition and Differentiation
  • Alignment and surrender of ego

All these Mystics did not retreat to an isolated monastic lifestyle but were engaged in the world. Catherine of Genoa gave selfless service to the sick while at the same time serving as director and treasurer of a hospital. Hildegard of Bingen was engaged in many fields including religion, medicine, music and cosmology, At the same time she was a mentor for many famous personalities of her time.

The common thread is that we are one humanity and that a life of service and dedication for the betterment of all provides solace to inner turmoil during times of crisis.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Majorca: Island of contrasts

I’m gradually settling in on Majorca, my new home base. Admittedly I was prejudiced by the reports of mainly hard-drinking low-budget tourists frequenting the Mediterranean island. The reality is that like its geography the region is marked by stark contrasts.

The coastal areas around the capital Palma draw most of the tourists with countless high-rise hotels lining the beaches. The airport is one of Europe’s busiest, especially during the summer months. But travelling away from the madding crowds into the interior you find an entirely different Majorca.

Hidden in the rugged Tramuntuna mountain, described lovingly by the Mallorquina as the heart of their island can also be found the spiritual heart in the Monastery of Lluc, dating back to the 13th century.

And, today I visited the Santuari de Cura, a monastery on the centrally located holy mountain of Randa, where the famous philosopher and Franciscan monk Ramon Llull (1232-1316) lived as a hermit, wrote some 265 books and worked as a pioneer of computation theory.

The mountain offers spectacular view of the plains below and the distant Tramuntuna mountains. As the winter clouds give way to sunlight, the distant mountain tops are spotlighted by sunshine. Double rainbows can be seen on the horizon. On days like these it becomes apparent why so many artists, painters, writers, seekers and wanderers were drawn to the island over the centuries.

Majorca is almost revealing of  the two sides of humanity.  The preoccupation with materialism, physical pleasures and all the distractions of the moment on the one side while the heart searches for the roots, meaning and sense of purpose in the solitude of nature and spiritual mysticism from the times of yore.

Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters

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