Writing-The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice


Push your writing through the trite and the boring to something fresh, something transformative.

"Writing as spiritual practice has nothing to do with readers per se. You aren't writing to be read; you are writing to be freed. Writing as spiritual practice is conspiratorial rather than inspirational. It conspires to strip away everything you use to maintain the illusion of certainty, security and self-identity. Where spiritual writing seeks to bind you all the more tightly to the self you imagine yourself to be, ...

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Writing--The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice

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Push your writing through the trite and the boring to something fresh, something transformative.

"Writing as spiritual practice has nothing to do with readers per se. You aren't writing to be read; you are writing to be freed. Writing as spiritual practice is conspiratorial rather than inspirational. It conspires to strip away everything you use to maintain the illusion of certainty, security and self-identity. Where spiritual writing seeks to bind you all the more tightly to the self you imagine yourself to be, writing as spiritual practice intends to free you from it."
—from Rami’s Preface

This isn’t about how to write spiritual books. It isn’t about the romance of writing. It doesn’t cover the ins and outs of publishing and building a brand. Instead, this fresh and unapologetic guide to writing as a spiritual practice approaches writing as a way to turn the spiral of body, heart, mind, soul and spirit that leads to spiritual awakening.

Lead by renowned spirituality teacher Rami Shapiro and award-winning writer and writing coach Aaron Shapiro—and featuring over fifty unique, practical exercises—it takes you beyond assigning inspirational words to the page. It shows you how to use your writing to unlock the joy of life and the infinite perspectives and possibilities that living provides.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A father-and-son team of writing teachers—Rami Shapiro is a prolific author (The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness) as well as rabbi—takes a circuitous approach to the process of writing. The authors first construct a spiritual framework of multiple levels of consciousness, then proceed through those levels—body, heart, mind, soul, and spirit—with explanation and writing prompts. It’s a little abstruse and mystical, but the writing prompts are wonderfully fun and liberate the imagination. The book reads at times like “you had to be there”—it’s based on a writing retreat/workshop the authors have led for seven years, so they are writing from what has worked. Still, some readers will think that the exercise of writing letters to your enemies is more therapy than craft development. Others will have a creative ride, gain some spiritual insight, and learn a little about Martin Buber and the cris de coeur found in the Hebrew Bible. (May)
From the Publisher

"Beautiful…. The perfect combination of timeless wisdom, beautifully crafted language and practical, grounded exercises. A must-read for writers, spiritual seekers ... and all breathing human beings."
Rev. Susan Sparks, author, Laugh Your Way to Grace:
Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor
; senior pastor, Madison Avenue Baptist Church

“There is much more in this book than directives about writing. There's a spirituality, philosophy, psychology, cosmology and an amazingly creative array of writing prompts both playful and profound. Remarkable.”
Thomas Ryan, CSP, author, Soul Fire: Accessing Your Creativity
and The Sacred Art of Fasting: Preparing to Practice

“Invites you to plunge deeply into the excesses of life. [It] seduces you to write into 'the vivid, concrete details’ of the stuff you experience, to see what Jane Kenyon called ‘the luminous particular’—until it morphs into sacred art.”
Kent Ira Groff, retreat leader and founding mentor of Oasis Ministries; author,
Writing Tides: Finding Grace and Growth through Writing

“Ingenious…. Just when it’s starting to look like writing is going to be supplanted by tweeting, and the word spiritual is so overused that it almost has to be spelled with quotation marks, along comes [this book]. I’m surprised and delighted to say that with [its] guidance, it truly can be a spiritual practice.”
D. Genpo Merzel, author, Big Mind, Big Heart: Finding Your Way

“Comfortable with the stories that define your life? Want to stay that way? Then do not read this book! Prefer to meet up with the Holy only in the safety of familiar rites? Do not follow these writing prompts! With the Shapiros as your chaperones, you might just find yourself in passionate embrace with the wild and contradictory nature of human existence. This is writing as an act of liberation from the cages of our own making.”
Margaret D. McGee, author, Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment
and Haiku—The Sacred Art: A Spiritual Practice in Three Lines

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594733727
  • Publisher: Skylight Paths Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Series: Art of Spiritual Living Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 808,050
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Rami Shapiro, a renowned teacher of spirituality across faith traditions and a noted theologian, is a popular speaker on the topics of religion, theology and spirituality. He is author of the award-winning The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice; Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice and Hasidic Tales: Annotated and Explained; among other books.

Rami Shapiro is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Writing—The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice
  • Stop Playing God: 12 Steps as Spiritual Practice
  • Biblical Wisdom for Post-biblical Times: An Exploration of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job
  • The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Cultivating Compassion in Daily Life
  • Hasidic Wisdom: An Exploration of Hasidic Storytelling, Theology and Contemplative Practice
  • Saints and Sages: Biblical Prophets, Ancient Rabbis and the Building of a Just World

Aaron Shapiro, an award-winning poet and essayist, teaches undergraduate writing and literature at Middle State Tennessee University. A frequent speaker on topics ranging from creative writing to critical theory, his work has been published in Teaching in the Pop Culture Zone. He is a recipient of the Michael Hauptman Poetry Prize, a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, a Paul Muldoon Poetry Fellowship, and the Tennessee Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Award, as well as the Virginia Peck Award.

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Table of Contents

Rami's Preface ix
Aaron's Preface xiii
A Note on Collaboration xvii
A Note on Structure: The Five Worlds and Writing as a Spiritual Practice xix

Introduction 1

1. Writing to Open the Body 9
Projective Verse 12
Soundings 14
Dinggedicht 17
Haiku 18
Zang Tumb Tuuum 19
Where Are You? 21
Sing the Body Electric 22
Who's Your Deity? 23
Our Stories, Ourselves 26
Sauntering 27
Walking Around a Writer’s Block 28

2. Writing to Open the Heart 31
Jekyll and Hyde, or Despicable Me 33
I’m Going to Kill You! 37
Automatic Writing 39
Dining with the Devil 44
Dear Hated One 45
Heart Lines 1 54
Heart Lines 2: Rumi-nations 58

3. Writing to Open the Mind 61
Who’s In? Who’s Out? 68
The Power of Influence 70
Bye-Bye Bias, Part 1 73
Bye-Bye Bias, Part 2 75
Definitions 78
Writing Against Language: The Vorpal Blade 83
I, Superhero 88
Alter Ego 88
Calling Dr. Freud, Calling Dr. Freud 89
Sticks and Stones 90
Who Am I? 95
My Destiny 97
The Name Game 98
Narrowing the Narrow Mind 101
The Three Garments of Self 103

4. Writing to Open the Soul 105
Lung 107
Amazing Gazing 109
Shoeless Moe, Part 1: Identifying Your Sandals 111
Shoeless Moe, Part 2: Lech Lecha 112
Against the Pathetic Fallacy 114
Blackout Poems 115
The Exquisite Corpse 116
The Giving Tree Revisited 118
Glimpsing the Bush 120
A Day in the Wilderness 121

5. Writing to Open the Spirit 123
Resting in Soul 124
Playing the Paradox, Part 1: Colorless Green Ideas 131
Playing the Paradox, Part 2: Cut-up 134
My Story, My Sage 136

6. Turning the Spiral from Body to Spirit: Returning—by Way of Conclusion 141
Homophonic "Translation" 143
Turn and Return 145

Acknowledgments 149
Notes 151
Suggestions for Further Reading 153

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