Neil Douglas-Klotz (The Sufi Book of Life) is internationally known in the fields of religious studies, spirituality, and psychology, with a specialty in the Aramaic, Christian, Jewish mystical, and Sufi traditions. The current co-chair of the Mysticism Group of the American Academy of Religion, he spent 10 years as core faculty at the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality.
In this book and CD combination, Douglas-Klotz amplifies a project he began 16 years ago with Prayers of the Cosmos where he translated and reinterpreted the Lord's Prayer and the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew from the standpoint of Jesus' native language of Aramaic. Using the same format here, he offers the best-loved benedictions of Jesus and invocations for peace, healing, and divine connection. At the outset, he notes some trends that make this kind of exploration more important now than ever:
"On the side of Christian theology, many mainstream and liberal theologians have expressed the view that a majority of Christians are much more interested in spirituality, that is, religious experience, than they are in creeds or theological concepts. Those who find a friend in Jesus are much more interested in how he prayed and what he did — spirituality and social justice — than they are in a catalog of beliefs about the virgin birth, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. They are less interested in what theologians call 'high christological' concepts than they are in how each person becomes a son or daughter of God, living in wisdom and compassion, as Jesus did."
The book is an excellent guide to Jesus' spirituality, and the 80-minute CD with 20 guided Aramaic body prayers help to bring us to a deeper appreciation of our connection with Sacred Unity. Douglas-Klotz covers various blessings, Jesus' parting words to his disciples, and blessings for our inner being in the Beatitudes. Here is a body prayer for peace:
"Breathe easily and naturally with the Aramaic word for deep, creative peace: SHLA-MA. By placing one hand lightly over your heart, feel your heartbeat coming into rhythm with this word. Then use the feeling of the word as a doorway into a connection with the peace and potential that was there before the beginning of the universe. Feel the whole sweep of existence — all of the plants, animals, stars, and galaxies that are traveling ahead of you. Find your place in this moving, cosmic caravan of life and affirm that the same potential that began the universe can be felt in your life, here and now."