What is this webinar series about?
The titles of the four sessions say it all:
- Teresa of Avila: Grounding Spiritual Companionship
- The Divine Feminine: Cultivating Intimacy with the Indwelling Presence
- Ram Dass: A Legacy of Spiritual Companionship
- Death and Dying, Grief and Grieving: Companioning People on the Threshold
Mirabai Starr is one of the most compelling teachers of mystery and contemplative life today. This webinar series is more than a chance to learn, it’s a chance to welcome transcendence and transformation. Joined by SDI’s Executive Director, Rev. Seifu Anil Singh-Molares, Mirabai will take us on a spiritual journey through our current times of uncertainty.
Pandemic has changed our lives and indeed human history. In this series, we will ask:
- Where may thresholds be found in this crisis?
- How may we companion folks to experience deep connection in a time of widespread isolation?
- How may we embrace the wisdom inter-laced with all this loss?
This 4-session webinar series is designed for spiritual companions who want to grow in their calling and expand their own inner work. All those who offer spiritual care – formally or informally – are welcome. Indeed, we invite anyone who feels drawn to contemplative practice and community to join us.
Life learning, not book learning. Experiential, contemplative, spiritual. We want to open a gateway to understanding and connection. We’d rather companion you to an insight than impress you with a list of facts. Because most of our audience are spiritual directors and companions including chaplains, life coaches and others who offer spiritual care -, we focus on the practical and care-giving side of the equation. Of course, since we all are spiritual beings, this webinar series can benefit anyone. And anyone with a sense of curiosity (and adventure!) is welcome, no matter what spiritual tradition – or inclination – they honor.
You can enjoy the webinar any time you like. Each session is recorded so you can watch at your convenience.
Who We Are
SDI is an educational nonprofit, serving 7,000 members in 42 countries around the world. We are committed to supporting and growing access to spiritual companionship and the deep listening, open questions and compassion our healing modality offers. Presence is central to spiritual companionship. And wholeness and peace are benefits that come with contemplative living.
Session 1 –
Teresa of Avila: Down-to-Earth Spiritual Companionship
Teresa of Avila was luminous exemplar of practical guidance and mystical exaltation. She had little patience for gratuitous piety and didn’t hesitate talking back to God when displeased. She was famous for plucking younger nuns out of prayer when she felt they were veering toward disingenuous states of spiritual emotion and sticking a broom in their hands or a snack in their mouths until they settled back into their bodies. She also offered some of the most passionate teachings on contemplative life in the history of the Western mystical tradition, guidance that reverberates across the centuries with astonishing relevance. In this conversation, Mirabai will share a few stories from this unorthodox saint and respond to Rev. Seifu’s questions, and those of our webinar participants, with special emphasis on Teresa as a model for spiritual companionship in our times.
Session 2 –
The Divine Feminine: Cultivating Intimacy with the Indwelling Presence
As traditionally male-dominated structures topple across the landscape of the human community, the feminine is rising, carrying cups of mercy and spreading flames of truth-telling. Long-buried wisdom teachings and previously ignored women mystics are revealing themselves to be urgently relevant as we pass through a global dark night of the soul and into a radically renewed humanity. With its emphasis on relationships and inclusivity, its tolerance for ambiguity and its intimacy with mystery, the feminine reclaims the body as holy ground and blesses the web of interbeing that sustains us all. The feminine speaks in poetry and song, she worships the earth as cherished relative, she embraces ultimate reality as lover. In this conversation, Rev. Seifu engages in inquiry with mystical feminist Mirabai Starr who shares the fruits of many years of investigating, excavating and lifting up female voices in all the world’s religions.
Session 3 –
Ram Dass: A Legacy of Spiritual Companionship
Mirabai first met Ram Dass when she was 14. He gave her her name, and along with it her embodied sense of devotion to the One who transcends all religious institutions and subverts all established belief systems. Mirabai’s attraction to the mystical heart of all spiritual traditions, her intimacy with the Absolute in the form of Divine Mother, and her commitment to social and environmental justice are all fruits cultivated in the garden Ram Dass bequeathed to her. Mirabai describes her consciousness as being” so threaded with his that I cannot distinguish what emerges from my mouth (or pen) as my own or his.” She adds, “Nor does it matter.” Ram Dass was not only Mirabai’s elder Guru brother, but a loving soul relative. She called him “Uncle Ram Dass.” In this conversation, Rev. Seifu asks Mirabai about her intimate connection to this iconic wisdom teacher, particularly inasmuch as their relationship serves as a model for spiritual companionship.
Session 4 –
Death and Dying, Grief and Grieving: Companioning People on the Threshold
Those who have the privilege of sitting with the dying know that there is not a more sacred space we could abide in. In a death-phobic culture like the mainstream Western world, it takes special effort to access the deathbed and bear loving witness to someone’s process of birthing themselves back into the heart of the One. Similarly, many of us are conditioned to view grief as a pathological condition to be cured, rather than as the holy land of the heart to be entered with awe, reverence and a willingness to not know. In this conversation, Mirabai and Rev. Seifu explore the intimacy and the fiery blessing of companioning people through the landscapes of death and mourning.
Mirabai Starr has been a spiritual companion since before she was born and will continue her companioning long after her death. She is an award-winning author of creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. Her latest book, WILD MERCY: Living the Fierce & Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, was named one of the “Best Books of 2019” by Spirituality & Practice. Mirabai is on the 2020 Watkins List of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People of the World.” She lives with her extended family in the mountains of northern New Mexico.
Rev. Seifu Anil Singh-Molares is the Executive Director of SDI and an ordained Zen Buddhist priest, as well as a practicing spiritual director/companion and motivational speaker. He is a veteran of numerous interfaith and interspiritual efforts over the years, including Seeds of Compassion in Seattle in 2008, where he was one of the chairs, and as founder and executive director of the Compassionate Action Network. He has a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard University. Rev. Seifu is an accomplished speaker and university lecturer and is a key contributor for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. In a previous life, he was also an executive at Microsoft, where he successfully grew international groups and divisions and provided leadership to multi-cultural teams around the world.
About Santa Teresa and Ram Dass:
Santa Teresa de Ãvila– “The important thing is not to think much, but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens us to love.” –St. Teresa of Avila … A spiritual innovator who became a doctor of the Catholic Church and one of Christianity’s most inspiring saints. A tireless reformer and the mentor of Saint John of the Cross, Teresa’s greatest legacy is her revelation of ecstatic love for God–a love so powerful that it pierces the heart like a burning sword. Through illness, hardship, and persecution by the Inquisition, this courageous mystic lit the way with her unquenchable spirit to an “interior castle,” a place of unimaginable beauty and light where no darkness can touch us. Mirabai Starr will give us a link to the living presence of this brave and gentle woman, to draw upon her strength in your own times of need.
Ram Dass – (April 6, 1931 — December 22, 2019) was an American spiritual teacher, psychologist, author and beloved friend of Mirabai Starr. His best known book, Be Here Now (1971), has been described as “seminal,” and helped popularize Eastern spirituality and yoga in the West. He authored or co-authored twelve more books on spirituality over the next four decades, including Grist for the Mill (1977), How Can I Help? (1985), and Polishing the Mirror (2013).
Each session will run 75 minutes. We understand that the timing of the seminar will not be convenient in every time zone on the planet. For those who have trouble making this time, a recorded copy of each session will be made available to all those who sign up. CEU credits are available for all those who participate. (See below)
Who may join the webinar?
Everyone is invited to participate in SDI Webinars.
Scholarships are available for those facing financial hardship. Please apply here.