For Compassionate Relief

For Compassionate Relief

Spiritual Practices for Difficult Times

Tzu Chi Center  | July 16, 2021
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Talk Description

In Buddhism, suffering is an inherent part of life. But, must it all be so insufferable?

Thomas Petriano, Ph.D. says no. He is a professor and Chair of Religious Studies at St. Joseph’s College New York and he joins us in-person this summer at the Tzu Chi Center for a virtual broadcast of C.A.F.E. 229. Dr. Petriano’s goal: to share five spiritual practices anyone can use to find relief from what plagues us.

Joined by host Peter Lin, Ph.D., he addresses the elephant in the room: COVID-19. “This has been one awful year for all of us, as a human family,” Dr. Petriano says. Whether the individual impact on each of us was direct or indirect, it makes no difference; as a collective, he affirms, we have endured suffering. While there are many resources for all us to heal and recover, Dr. Petriano has spent his time investigating how spirituality plays a role in this.

Religious traditions of the world offer a great resource for using spirituality for dealing with life’s difficult moments.

Dr. Thomas Petriano

He began his talk with an Indian proverb:

“Everyone is a house with four rooms. There’s a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual room that makes up each of us. And most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but, unless we spend time in every room everyday, even if only to keep it aired – we’re not a complete person.”

How then, can we ensure we are entering our spiritual rooms every day? Dr. Petriano offers five spiritual practices. The first is to cultivate gratitude. To do that, we must first let go of scarcity:

“We live in a culture that persuades us that whatever we have is not enough. Like, you wake up in the morning and, [you think,] ‘I didn’t get enough sleep;’ ‘I didn’t lose enough weight;’ ‘I don’t have enough money’… and there never seems to be enough of anything.”

To counteract this, he cites that religious traditions often encourage us to recognize abundance. By doing so, we can cultivate a practice of gratitude and begin to see our lives in a more positive light.

Watch the video above to learn about the four other spiritual practices Dr. Petriano recommends we adopt to brave life’s challenges and keep a ‘full house.’

About Thomas Petriano, Ph.D

Dr. Petriano is Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at St. Joseph’s College, teaching at both the Long Island and Brooklyn campuses. He received his doctorate in theology from Fordham University. Among the courses he teaches are world religions and Buddhism, which are part of the Mindfulness and Contemplative Living Minor recently established in collaboration with the Psychology Department. Among Dr. Petriano’s interests are the spiritual traditions of the world. He has also travelled with students to Nicaragua as part of a Global Service Learning program sponsored by St. Joseph’s College. He lives with his wife Karen in Huntington Station, Long Island.

To learn more about Dr. Petriano, click here.

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