Sunday

Welcome To Your World Religions

Welcome to the fascinating study of the world’s religions. This site supplements textbook knowledge with religious experience, expressed through literature and art.

Awareness of world religions can open our eyes to the depths of our common humanity, or build walls of separation. It's our choice. I hope the readings in this site build bridges, not walls. Please remember:
in attempting to be objective about religions, scholars are being objective about what is essentially a subjective experience.

Therefore we need to supplement scholarship about religions with the experience of people who practice those religions. Each religion is dear to the heart of its followers, who worship their most intimate and beloved form of deity. That form cannot be disconnected from their hearts. If these readings spark your interest, don’t stop here: go on to cultivate friendships with people of other faiths whenever you can.

Thursday

Creation Stories



(Jewish, Genesis 1)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. The Spirit of God was moving over the waters. And God said, Let there be Light!. And there was light. And God saw that the light was Good.

(India, The Rig Veda)
When there was neither Being nor Not-Being, no sky, no heaven, nor what is beyond, what did it encompass? Where? In whose protection? What was this ocean of the deep unfathomable? Neither death nor immortality was there then, no sign of light or darkness. Only the One, who breathed, by its own power, and became Desire, first seed of mind....

(Enuma Elish, Ancient Babylon)
When there was no heaven, no earth, no height, no depth, no name; when Apsu, the fresh water, was alone, the first parent; and Tiamet, the salt water, had all in her womb; and there were no gods; the sweet and bitter were mingled together, no reed was woven, no rushes in the muddy water. The gods were nameless, natureless, futureless. Then, from Apsu and Tiamet, in the waters gods were born.

(Ancient Persia, Zoroaster's Zend Avesta)
The Light was above and the Darkness was below, and between the two was the Void. Ahuramazd was in the Light and Ahriman in the Darkness. The Lord of Light knew of the Lord of Darkness and his preparations for battle. But the Lord of Darkness knew not of the Lord of Light... Then, by the pure Word of the law, Ahuramazd overpowered Ahriman and hurled him back into the Darkness.

(Ancient Greek, Hesiod's Theogony)
Chaos was first of all, but next appeared broad-bosomed Earth, sure resting place for all the gods who live on snowy Mt. Olympus... Then from Chaos came black Night and Erebos, who soon gave birth to Day and Space. And Earth meanwhile, bore starry Heaven from her womb.

(Christian, John's Gospel)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through the Word. In Him was life, and the life was the light of humanity.

(India, Upanishads)
In the beginning was the sacred word, Om. All that ever was, all that is, and all that ever will be, was created through the sacred word, Om.

(Marshall Islands, South Pacific)
Long ago there was no land at all, only the ocean. But there was a God named Lowa who came down and made a magical sound, "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm", and all the islands were created.

(Mayan, Central America)
All was in suspense, calm, motionless, silent and still. The sky was empty... Then came the Word of Tepu and Gucamatz, the Forefathers, who were in the waters surrounded by light, hidden under green and blue feathers. They were great sages... They created the Earth. "Earth!" they said, and instantly it was made.

(Maori, New Zealand)
Io dwelt within the breath of immensity. All was in watery darkness, no glimmer of dawn. And he said: "Darkness, become a shining darkness!" And at once, light appeared.

(Scandinavian, The Kalavala)
Of old there was nothing, no sand nor sea nor cool waves. No earth, nor heaven above. Only the yawning abyss. The sun knew not her dwelling nor the moon his realm. The stars had not their places.

(Hebrew Psalms)
By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their hosts from the breath of his mouth.

(India, Puranas)
In the beginning, this universe was only the Self. He looked around and saw nothing but himself. Then he cried out, "I am He!" ("Ham'Sa"), whence came the name, I Am. That is why even today, when one is addressed, one answers, "I am..." and then announces the other name that one goes by. He was afraid. That is why people are afraid to be alone. He thought, "What am I afraid of? There is nothing but myself;" then his fear was gone.... He was unhappy. That is why people are unhappy when they are alone. He wanted a companion. He took the form of a woman and man embracing. He divided this form, which was himself, in two. From that came husband and wife...

(Africa)
In the beginning nothing was here where the world is now, nothing but darkness, water and wind. There were no people, only the spirits. It was a lonely place. Then the spirits made the earth and the sky. They made the earth in the form of a living woman and called her Mother. They made the sky in the form of a man and called him Father.

(Fulani tribe, Mawi)
In the beginning there was a huge drop of milk!

(Fon tribe, Africa)
The world was created by one God who is both male and female, whose name is Nana-Buluku. Nana-Buluku gave birth to twins who were named Mawu and Lisa, who ruled over the creation. To Mawu, the Woman, was given command of the Night. To Lisa, Man, command of the Day.

(Chinese)
At first there was nothing at all. Time passed, and nothing became Something. Time passed, and Something split in two. The two were Male and Female. These two produced two more, and these two produced Pan Ku, the first being, the great Person, the Creator.

(Japan)
At first, Heaven and Earth were not separate. The Yin and the Yang, the female and the male, were not divided. They were a formless mass, like an egg. The light clear part of the egg gradually became Heaven. The thick yolk gradually settled down and became Earth.

(Eskimo)
In the beginning, when there was nothing but water, God and the first Man moved about in the shape of two black geese over the ocean.

(Huron tribe, Native American)
In the beginning there was nothing but water, a wide sea, where spirits of animals lived before the earth was created. A woman fell from the sky. She was divine. Two loons, who were flying over the water, looked up and saw her falling. To save her from drowning, they placed their bodies beneath her. They called other animals to help. A turtle came and took her onto his back. Other animals, like frog and beaver, dove into the waters and brought up mud to make an island for her on the turtle's back. Thus they created this world, which is called Turtle Island.

Creation according to modern physics:

"The cosmic religious experience is the strongest and the noblest driving force behind scientific research." Einstein

"The vacuum of physics contains in its faculties everything that the laws of nature will permit. It fluctuates - the virtual particles come and go. The only thing they are missing is the energy it would take to make them appear as real particles. All that can appear in reality must be present as a possibility - as a state of virtual particles - in the vacuum. Add energy to the vacuum and those virtual states may appear as particles." (24)

"The physical vacuum... carries within itself the possibilities of everything that can exist in the physical world. Once we attain true knowledge of the vacuum, we will have a comprehensive knowledge of everything, including the laws of nature. It is as in the thinking of the ancient philosophers. The knowledge of the void, the "nothing," is intimately connected with the knowledge of the "something."... We take it as a matter of course that empty space is not really empty." (32)
_____________________________________________
Henning Genz, Nothingness: The Science of Empty Space, Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, Mass. 1998
(Genz is professor of theoretical physics at University of Karlsruhe, Germany)

Physics & Creation



Quotes From The Great Physicists...
These too are creation stories!

"I am a scientist: I trace the lines that come from God."
(Einstein, letter to Gandhi)

"The cosmic religious experience is the strongest and the noblest driving force behind scientific research." (Einstein)

"The most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." (Isaac Newton)

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness." (Max Planck)
Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” (Max Planck)
"God forever does geometry." (Plato, according to Plutarch).

"Nature's great book is written in mathematical language". (Gallileo)

"Modern physics has definitely decided for Plato. For the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense of the word; they are forms, or in Plato's sense, Ideas, which can be unambiguously spoken of only in the language of mathematics." (Werner Heisenberg)

"The Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a pure mathematician... The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine." (Sir James Jeans, early founder of Quantum Theory)

".... a world created out of pure intelligence." (Sir James Jeans)

"All through the physical world runs that unknown content which must surely be the stuff of our consciousness.... The stuff of the world is mind-stuff." ( (Sir Arthur Eddington, early founders of Quantum Theory and president of the Royal Academy of Science - and a Quaker)

"I assert that the nature of all reality is spiritual, not material nor a dualism of matter and spirit... I contemplate a spiritual domain underlying the physical world." (Arthur Eddington)

"Everything we call real is made out of things that cannot be regarded as real." (Nobel Prize physicist Niels Bohr, speaking of how all material particles arise from quantum fluctuations of a pure empty vacuum)

"The next revolution in physics will occur when the properties of mind will be included in the equations of quantum theory." (Eugene Wigner)

“For those of us who believe in physics, this separation between past, present and future is only an illusion.” (Einstein)

"The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist." (Erwin Schrodinger, one of the founders of modern physics, who also had a great interest in Vedanta, ancient Indian philosophy, which dissolves the subject-object dualism.)

"The universe does not exist out there, independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe." (John Wheeler)

"There is nothing in the world except empty curved space. Matter, charge, electromagnetism, and other fields are only manifestations of the curvature of space." (John Wheeler)

"Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise? How could we have been so stupid?"(John Wheeler)

"If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.(John Wheeler)
John Wheeler, who died in 1995, was one of the 20th Century's most important teachers of physics, at Princeton and the University of Texas.

"The cosmos is also within us. We are made of stars. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself." (Carl Sagan)

"If you want to make an apple pie, you first have to create the universe." (Carl Sagan) 


"The changing of bodies into light and light into bodies is very comfortable to the course of nature, which seems delighted with transmutations." ~Isaac Newton (who considered himself not only a scientist, but an alchemist)

"The vacuum of physics contains in its faculties everything that the laws of nature will permit. It fluctuates - the virtual particles come and go. The only thing they are missing is the energy it would take to make them appear as real particles. All that can appear in reality must be present as a possibility - as a state of virtual particles - in the vacuum. Add energy to the vacuum and those virtual states may appear as particles." (Henning Genz) *

"The physical vacuum... carries within itself the possibilities of everything that can exist in the physical world. Once we attain true knowledge of the vacuum, we will have a comprehensive knowledge of everything, including the laws of nature. It is as in the thinking of the ancient philosophers. The knowledge of the void, the "nothing," is intimately connected with the knowledge of the "something."... We take it as a matter of course that empty space is not really empty." (Henning Genz) *

LINK: Great Physicists Who Studied Vedic Literature of India
_____________________________________________
* Henning Genz, Nothingness: The Science of Empty Space, Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, Mass. 1998 (Genz is professor of theoretical physics at University of Karlsruhe, Germany)

Native American Experience



1. Native American Christmas Story


Gather round children and let us teach you a song that helps us to remember the sacred things of our Grandfather and the reasons that He came to walk our Land, clothed in Red Dirt. We are excited to learn the things He accomplished for us, among us, and through us. We are most excited that all the ways we have walked before now pointed us to this moment, when we mere humans would be able to walk as sons and daughters of the Most Holy One.

Day #1

On the First day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me... an Eagle sitting on a cedar tree. Remember children, the eagle climbs the highest and takes our prayers to the High places, and the eagle is Jesus, the One who was able also to climb to the sky world.

Day #2

On the second day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me two wise owls Remember children that the owls represent both death and sacred messages from the Holy places… and in this song they represent the Old Testament and the New Laws that brought transformation and mercy.

Day #3

On the third day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me three sacred drums: for the drums beat out the sound of our Mother Earth while we pray to the Grandfather. As you hear them beat, hear the Word creating the earth and the heavens.

Day #4

On the fourth day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me four talking feathers: for the feathers remind us that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were given the talking feather by the Grandfather Himself, to tell His story to us all.

Day #5

On the fifth day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me five prayer bundles (leather pouches of sacred leaves and herbs to hold while you pray), for we must remember that the Law did not vanish, and though we live by grace, the Law of Nature is still to be followed, and we humbly submit it as we offer our prayers.

Day #6

On the sixth day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me six hawks a laying (For we celebrate the creation of our mother earth, and thank Him for giving us all life, through our prayers, often using the feathers of this creature to smudge ourselves in preparation of that prayer time).

Day #7

On the seventh day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me seven stones for sweat lodge (For we must remember the gifts of the Spirit are seven fold, and we learn how to walk in these gifts through our awe and love of God, we do this praying in our lodges)

Day #8

On the eighth day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me eight great buffalo. For we want to remember the beatitudes, the blessings of Jesus. The buffalo represent His provision for our health, our very existence, as did the blessings He invoked on the people, the meek, those who weep, and the poor.

Day #9

On the ninth day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me nine precious elders. For as we sit at the feet of our elders we hear how we can walk in the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They have always taught these truths: we just didn't know that they were the same truths taught by the talking leaves the white men brought to us.

Day #10

On the tenth day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me ten eagle dancers. For our eagle dancers sacrifice for the people during the Sun Dance, to protect the people, to keep the people in wholeness, just as the ten commandments were given to keep the people whole.

Day 11:

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me eleven braids of sweet grass sage. For as we light it and send the smell of sweet grass to the heavens, it invites those who dwell in the realm of the Grandfather to enter our world and help us. In this we remember the faithful disciples who stood ready to do His will and work.

Day 12:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Grandfather gave to me twelve drummers singing. For the sacred drums cannot help us to pray if they do not have four drummers each to beat out the heartbeat of the earth to our God; and when our people are on the drum, we call it singing, we call it praying, because it is much more than just drumming.

Merry Christmas to all my relations! Ho!
____________________________________

2. The Vision Quest: Experience of Black Elk,
Lakota Sioux Warrior and Prophet



A Vision Quest is an experience of deeper understanding of Nature and Spirit. It is a ceremony practiced by American Indians. To prepare for this "insight" one must first cleanse the body and mind by going through a Inipi or sweat lodge. Then with the help of a Holy Man, the quester is given instructions for fasting and prayer. Then the quester must go to a sacred place in the wilderness, usually on a holy mountain, and stay 2 or 3 days. During this time no food is eaten and one does not sleep but spends the time in deep prayer and observation. Many times, but not always, there is a vision. This vision is then shared with the Holy Man to help learn of its meaning. The vision often provides a direction for the coming life, and a new adult name for the quester. Sometimes the meaning is not shown for several years afterward.
_________________________________________________________

This is part of a vision quest I was told to share with all who may be interested.
Once, I went to pray at the top of the sacred mountain of my ancestors.
As I climbed to the top I heard voices singing as the wind blew the leaves.
At the top I saw, made from many stones, a large circle with a cross inside.
I knew from my teachings that this represented the circle of life and the four directions.
I sat down by the edge of this circle to pray.
I thought this is only a symbol of the universe.
"True," a very soft voice said.
"Look and you will see the Center of the Universe.
Look at every created thing."
As I looked around I saw that every created thing had a thread of smoke or light going from it.
The voice whispered, "This cord that every created thing has is what connects it to the Creator.
Without this cord it would not exist."
As I watched I saw that all these threads, coming from everything, went to the center of the circle where the four directions were one place (the center of the cross).
I saw that all these threads were tied together or joined here at this spot.
The voice spoke again, "This is the Center of the Universe. The place where all things join together and all things become one. The place where everything begins and ends. The place inside everything created."
That's when I understood that all of creation, the seen and the unseen, was all related.
The voice spoke one last time, "Yes, now you know the Center of the Universe."
I pray to the four directions.....hear me.
I pray to the West which gives us rest and reflection.
I thank you for these gifts for without them we could not live.
I pray to the North which gives us patience and purity.
I thank you for these gifts for without them we could not live.
I pray to the East which gives us energy and emotions.
I thank you for these gifts for without them we could not live.
I pray to the South which gives us discipline and direction.
I thank you for these gifts for without them we could not live.
Grandmother, share with me your wisdom, and I thank you for this gift.
Grandfather, share with me your strength, and I thank you for this gift.
________________________________

3. The Navaho's Harmony with Nature
(from Willa Cather's 'Death Comes for the Archbishop')
 
When they left the rock or tree or sand dune that had sheltered
them for the night, the Navajo was careful to obliterate every
trace of their temporary occupation.  He buried the embers of the
fire and the remnants of food, unpiled any stones he had piled
together, filled up the holes he had scooped in the sand.  Since
this was exactly Jacinto's procedure, Father Latour judged that,
just as it was the white man's way to assert himself in any
landscape, to change it, make it over a little (at least to leave
some mark of memorial of his sojourn), it was the Indian's way to
pass through a country without disturbing anything; to pass and
leave no trace, like fish through the water, or birds through the
air.

It was the Indian manner to vanish into the landscape, not to stand
out against it.  The Hopi villages that were set upon rock mesas
were made to look like the rock on which they sat, were imperceptible
at a distance.  The Navajo hogans, among the sand and willows, were
made of sand and willows.  None of the pueblos would at that time
admit glass windows into their dwellings.  The reflection of the sun
on the glazing was to them ugly and unnatural--even dangerous.
Moreover, these Indians disliked novelty and change.  They came and
went by the old paths worn into the rock by the feet of their
fathers, used the old natural stairway of stone to climb to their
mesa towns, carried water from the old springs, even after white men
had dug wells.

In the working of silver or drilling of turquoise the Indians had
exhaustless patience; upon their blankets and belts and ceremonial
robes they lavished their skill and pains.  But their conception
of decoration did not extend to the landscape.  They seemed to have
none of the European's desire to "master" nature, to arrange and
re-create.  They spent their ingenuity in the other direction;
in accommodating themselves to the scene in which they found
themselves... It was as if the great country were asleep, and they 
wished to carry on their lives without awakening it; or as if the spirits 
of earth and air and water were things not to antagonize and arouse. 
When they hunted, it was with the same discretion; an Indian hunt was 
never a slaughter.  They ravaged neither the rivers nor the forest,
and if they irrigated, they took as little water as would serve their needs. 
The land and all that it bore they treated with consideration; not 
attempting to improve it, they never desecrated it.
_______________________

4. From A Soldier In Iraq


My wife is Native American, Iriquois and Cherokee. She is Christian. Some of her ancestors converted. Her grandmother, on the other hand, did not. My wife's grandmother used to, before we ate, pray to the spirit of whatever animal we were eating. She would give thanks to the animal for letting us kill and eat it. It was a very spiritual time, eating that was.

I grew up in a town where everyone hunted and fished. And every season, her grandmother would put a blessing on us that we would come out with good game.... Each time she did that, we came out with some of the biggest deer or fish we have ever hunted or caught before.

Which brings me to my next question: Who are we to say that animals don't have a spirit? They are born and die the same way we do. Just take a look around. Sharks, turtles, rats, and certain reptiles have been around for millions of years. So who is to say that we are the "superior" race? Not a person if you ask me. Until we have survived as long as some animal species, we have no right to say that we are advanced. Yes, we might have a larger brain or that we have opposable thumbs, but who says that is superior? I guess we will all have to wait until the next chapter in our life to find out. If there even is a next chapter.
__________________________________________

Creeds for Daily Living



Below are moral commandments and creeds representing the Bible, Buddhism, Hinduism, American Deism, the 17th Century European Enlightenment, and the Quakers in America.

1. The Bible
: Ten Commandments

The Decalog, or Ten Commandments, occur with some subtle differences in both Biblical books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. Scholars have disputed over their precise division and numbering, particularly with regard to commandments one and two. But they remain, in their simple power, guide posts and stop signs to keep humanity on the path of Life.
* Do not have any god but God
* Do not worship a graven image
* Do not dishonor the Name of God
* Do not murder
* Do not steal
* No not lie
* Do not commit adultery
* Do not covet
* Keep the Sabbath
* Honor Father and Mother



2. Hinduism: Yamas & Niyamas of Astanga Yoga

The Yoga system has eight "limbs", according to the sage Patanjali. They must all be practiced together in an integrated system of physical, moral and spiritual growth that encompasses the whole person. The eight limbs of Yoga ("astanga Yoga") are: Moral restraints and commandments, Postures, Breath control, Sense control, Concentration, Meditation, and Union with God.

The Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (commandments) are very close to the Ten Commandments of the Bible. These moral rules are intended to accompany physical and spiritual practices.

5 Yamas
* Sexual abstinence (except in marriage)
* Non-violence
* Non-lying
* Non-stealing
* Non-coveting

5 Niyamas
* Truth
* Study of scriptures
* Devotion to one's chosen form of God
* Self-discipline
* Contentment



3. Buddhism: The Five and Ten Precepts
Every Buddhist lay-person must follow the Five Precepts. Buddhist monks and monks must add to these another five, making the '10 Commandments' of Buddhism.
Five Precepts
* No sexual impurity (sexual intimacy only in marriage)

* No lying

* No stealing

* No killing (violence can be used only in self-defense)

* No intoxicants


Five Additional Precepts for Monks and Nuns
*
No gossip or malicious speech
* No self-display (jewelry, luxurious clothes or sensual behavior)

* No eating after noon (fasting)
* No defaming of the Three Jewels**

* No accepting of money

** The Three Jewels are the basic vows of Buddhism, repeated every morning to honor:
(1) The Buddha (both the historical Teacher and the Buddha-nature within each person)
(2) The Dharma (teaching of the Buddha)
(3) The Sanga (Buddhist community)


4. Rock Edict of King Ashoka (300 BC)


The first and only Buddhist emperor was King Ashoka, who ruled the Mauryan Empire in India. He inscribed his ordinances on rock monuments. The 12th 'Rock Edict' contains the world's first political expression of religious tolerance.

"The Beloved of the Gods (the king) honors all religions with gifts and various forms of recognition. But the Beloved of the Gods does not consider gifts or honors to be as important as the advancement of the essence of all religions. This essence takes many forms, but its basis is the control of one's speech, so as not to extol one's own religion by disparaging another's.... On each occasion one should honor another person's religion, for by doing so one increases the influence of one's own and benefits that of the other's; while by doing otherwise one diminishes the influence of one's own religion and harms the other's.... Therefore, contact between religions is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. The king desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions."


5. A Deist's Creed (Ben Franklin)
Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, Washington and other Founding Father's of the U.S. were influenced by "Deism," the rationalistic and empirical philosophy of the 17th Century Enlightenment. Like the Greek philosophers, they viewed God as universal Reason, who creates the world and allows it to operate by natural rules, including ethical as well as physical laws. The good life is a life of rational action in harmony with these eternal laws. The good life does not depend upon prayer, sacrament, or belief in a personal God.
True believers tried to convince Jefferson, Franklin, and Paine that they must attend church and be baptized. But they never yielded their spiritual independence to an institutionalized religion. At the age of 84, Franklin wrote down the following "Deist's Creed," which he said was all he needed for a "religion":

"This is my creed:
I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe;
That he governs it by his providence;
That he ought to be worshiped;
That the most acceptable service we render him is doing good to his other children;
That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this one."


6. Civil Religion (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
Written in 1762, 'The Social Contract' by Jean-Jacques Rousseau had a profound influence on the founders of the United States. Our very concept of liberal democracy derives from that book. In it, Rousseau defines 'Civil Religion': the limits of common religion that should be supported by the state. Beyond these limits, religion should be left to the individual and to private denominations, free of state influence. ('Social Contract' 1v. 8)

"The subjects then owe the Sovereign an account of their opinions only to such an extent as they matter to the community. Now, it matters very much to the community that each citizen should have a religion. That will make him love his duty; but the dogmas of that religion concern the State and its members only so far as they have reference to morality and to the duties which he who professes them is bound to do to others. Each man may have, over and above, what opinions he pleases, without it being the Sovereign's business judge them; for, as the Sovereign has no authority in the other world, whatever the lot of its subjects may be in the life to come, that is not its business, provided they are good citizens in this life. There is therefore a purely civil profession of faith of which the Sovereign should fix the articles, not exactly as religious dogmas, but as social sentiments without which a man cannot be a good citizen or a faithful subject....

"The dogmas of civil religion ought to be few, simple, and exactly worded, without explanation or commentary.
* The existence of a mighty, intelligent and beneficent Divinity, possessed of foresight and providence;
* The life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked;
* The sanctity of the social contract and the laws:

"These are its positive dogmas. Its negative dogmas I confine to one: intolerance. Those who distinguish civil from theological intolerance are, to my mind, mistaken. The two forms are inseparable. It is impossible to live at peace with those we regard as damned... Now that there is and can be no longer an exclusive national religion, tolerance should be given to all religions that tolerate others, so long as their dogmas contain nothing contrary to the duties of citizenship."


7. A Quaker Statement of Faith (John Woolman)

The 17th Century American Quaker, John Woolman, wrote one of the world's classic spiritual autobiographies. He was instrumental in the founding of the American anti-slavery movement. Quakers have no official creeds, for each is encouraged to work out his or her own relationship with God, through the Inward Light of the heart. Yet Quakers such as George Fox, William Penn and Woolman have expressed their personal faith in writings that inspire many. This is Woolman's famous statement concerning the divine spark in every human being.

"There is a principle that is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages has had different names. It is, however, pure, and it proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no form of religion, nor excluded from any where the heart stands in perfect sincerity."

Poems of Mystical Love



from The Song of Songs (The Holy Bible)

For the first 1500 years of Christianity, the Biblical book of ancient wedding songs, called The Song of Songs, was interpreted by Christian saints and theologians as a dialog between Christ and the soul. Christ is the beloved Bridegroom, and the soul is his lover, the mystical bride. The sensual union of bride and bridegroom was regarded by ancient poets as a sacramental sign, signifying the union experienced in deep contemplative prayer. This Biblical poetry of the Mystical Marriage reflects the same symbolism found in the spiritual poetry of India and Persia, the mystics of Hinduism and the Sufis of Islam.

*

The Beloved Speaks:
Your love is sweeter than wine,
and your name is perfume poured out.

The Lover Speaks:
A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse,
a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
A fountain of gardens, a well of flowing waters,
and streams from Lebanon.

The Beloved Speaks:
Let my beloved come into his garden
and eat his pleasant fruits.
I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine;
he feedeth among the lillies.
He brought me to the banqueting house
and his banner over me was love.
I sat down under his shadow
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

The Lover Speaks:
Thou art all fair my love, there is no spot in thee.
The joints of thy thighs are like jewels,
the work of a cunning workman's hands.
Thy stature is like to a palm tree,
and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.

Until the day break and the shadows flee away,
I will get me to the mountains of myrrh
and the hills of frankincense.
I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine.

At night on my bed I longed for my only love.
I sought him, but did not find him...
I sleep, but my heart wakes.
Listen! My lover knocking:
"Open my sister, my friend,
my dove, my perfect one!
My hair is wet, drenched with the dew of night."
I rose to open to my love,
my fingers moist with myrrh,
sweet flowing myrrh on the door bolt.
I opened to my love, but he had slipped away.
I sought him everywhere, but could not find him.
I called to him, but he did not answer.
Swear to me, daughters of Jerusalem!
If you find him now, you must tell him:
I am in a fever of love...

Come, my beloved,
let is go out into the fields
and sleep all night among the flowering henna.
Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vine has budded,
if the blossoms have opened
and the pomegranate is in flower.

There I will give you my love.




'O Sweet Irrational Worship,' by Thomas Merton 
 (Merton was a 20th C. Trappist monk from Kentucky who introduced Buddhist meditation into the Catholic Church)

Wind and a bobwhite
And the afternoon sun.

By ceasing to question the sun
I have become light,

Bird and wind.

My leaves sing.

I am earth, earth

All these lighted things
Grow from my heart.

A tall, spare pine
Stands like the initial of my first
Name when I had one.

When I had a spirit,
When I was on fire
When this valley was
Made out of fresh air
You spoke my name
In naming Your silence:
O sweet, irrational worship!

I am earth, earth

My heart's love
Bursts with hay and flowers.
I am a lake of blue air
In which my own appointed place
Field and valley
Stand reflected.

I am earth, earth

Out of my grass heart
Rises the bobwhite.

Out of my nameless weeds
His foolish worship.
________

Jnaneshwar (b. 1275, India)

I honor the God and Goddess,
eternal parents of the cosmos.
The lover out of boundless love
takes the form of the beloved.
What beauty!
Both are made of the same nectar,
and share the same food.
Out of supreme love
they swallow each other up with longing,
but separate again
for the joy of being two!
They sit in one place, petals of the same blossom,
covered in one garment of light.
From the beginning of time
they have been together like this,
reveling in divine love.
I am the difference between them,
which they have created to enjoy this world!
But with one glimpse of their intimacy
I merge back into the bliss of their union.
Without that God, there is no Goddess;
without that Goddess, there is no God.
How sweet the nectar of their love!
The entire universe is too small to contain them:
yet they dwell happily together
in my heart, and in
the tiniest particle of this world!

_____



Jnanadeva, Chapter 1 of Amṛta Anubhāva, Experience of Bliss-Nectar

Out of pure emptiness
She gives rise to the entire world.
Everything depends on Her.
Yet She exists only because
Of Him.

Her form is the whole world,
It is the glory of God made manifest.
God Himself created Her form,
God Himself became that form.

Seeing Herself beautifully adorned,
She could not bear that He
Might have less then She.
And so She adorned Him
With every Name and Form in the universe.

Merged in unity
There was nothing to do.
So Shakti, the bringer of good fortune,
Created this world for the sake of divine play.

She reveals His splendor
By melting Herself and becoming everything;
And He glorifies Her,
By hiding Himself completely.

Out of His great love to see Her
He becomes the Seer of the universe.
If He could not watch Her play,
He would have no reason to exist.

To meet Her call
He takes on the form
Of the whole universe;
Without Her He remains naked.

He is so mysterious and subtle
That while apparent,
He cannot be seen.
It is by Her grace alone
That He comes into being.

She awakens Him,
And serves Him a feast
The size of the universe.
With great delight
He swallows up every dish
And also the one who serves Him.

While He is sleeping,
She gives birth to all that exists
And all that does not exist.
While She is sleeping,
He has no form at all.

Look!
He is hidden,
And cannot be found without Her.
For they are mirrors,
Each revealing the other.

Embracing Her,
Shiva enjoys His own bliss.
Though all the joy
Of the world belongs to Him,
There is no joy without Her.

She is His very form,
But Her radiance comes from Him.
Blending into one,
They enjoy the nectar of their own union.

Shiva and Shakti are one,
Like air and the wind,
Like gold and its luster.

Shiva and Shakti cannot be separated.
They are like musk and its fragrance,
Like fire and its heat.

In the light of the Sun
There is no difference between day and night
In the Light of the Supreme Truth
There is no difference between Shiva and Shakti.

Shiva and Shakti envy the Primordial Sound "Om"
because they are seen as two
while the sound Om is always regarded as one.

Jnanadeva says,
"I honor the union of Shiva and Shakti,
who devour this world of Name and Form
like a sweet dish.
All that remains is the One."

Embracing each other
they merge into One!




___________

Radha's Longing for Krishna (Madhava) 
~ Classical Sandkrit Poet Vidyapati, 1340-1430
Your moon-faced Love
Had never guessed
That parting hurts.
Radha is tortured,
Dreading You will leave.
Love has robbed her of all power,
She sinks clasping the ground.
Kokila birds call.
Startled, she wakes
Only to brood again.
Tears wash the make-up
From her breasts.
Her arms grow thin,
Her bracelets slide to the ground.
Radha's head droops in grief.
Her fingers scar the earth
Bleeding your Name!

_________


Mahadeviyakka (12th C. India)

"On Her Decision to Stop Wearing Clothes"

Coins in the hand can be stolen,
but who can rob this body
of its own treasure?

The last thread of clothing
can be stripped away,
but who can peel off Emptiness -
pure Nakedness covering all?

Fools, while I dress
in
the Jasmine Lord's morning light
I cannot be shamed.
What would you have me hide under silk
and the glitter of jewels?

_____________

Mirabai (b. 1498 India)
Mira left her royal home to become a wandering poet, in love with Lord Krishna.

No one knows my invisible life.
Pain and madness for Rama.
Our wedding bed is high up
in the gallows.
Meeting him, the dark healer,
is a world of hurt and joy!
I love the man who takes care of cows.
Cowherd and dancer.
My eyes are drunk,
worn out from making love
with him. We are one.
I am now his dark color.
People notice me, point fingers at me.
They see my desire,
since I'm walking about like a lunatic.
I'm wiped out, gone.
Yet no one knows I live with my prince,
the cowherd. The palace can't contain me.
I leave it behind.
I couldn't care less about gossip
or my royal name.
I'll be with him
in all his gardens.

* * *

I am mad with love
And no one understands my plight.
Only the wounded
Understand the agonies of the wounded
When the fire rages in the heart.
Only the jeweler knows the value of the jewel,
Not the one who lets it go.
In pain I wander from door to door,
But cannot find a doctor.
Says Mira: Harken, my Master,
Mira's pain will subside
When Shyam, the beautiful blue-eyed Lord,
comes to heal me.

* * *

Mira danced with ankle-bells on her feet.
People said Mira was mad;
My mother-in-law said I ruined the family reputation.
Rana sent me a cup of poison
and Mira drank it laughing.
I dedicated my body and soul at the feet of Hari,
my Beloved, Krishna.
I am thirsty for the nectar of his glance.


*   *   *   *
O friend, understand.
The body is like the ocean, rich with hidden treasures.
Open your innermost chamber
And light its lamp,
Within the body are gardens,
Rare flowers, peacocks; the inner music;
Within the body a lake of bliss,
On it, the white soul-swans take their joy.
*   *  *  * 
Meher Baba, 2oth C. Indian Saint
Ever since I saw the Beloved's face,
its lines have etched themselves on my heart.
I still nurse the wound of separation within me --
it has left me broken.

Flowing tresses may be a snare and a net:
those are pagan tresses
whose lure, like the bulbul, has sprung from the head,
bogged in the heart.

When ego is erased, duality disappears:
God's lover is himself God.
This is the heart's only home
the heart in the lover, the lover in the heart.

O Seeker, you make a show of public worship,
then claim your share of desires.
The true lover carries within him, in secret,
the name of God.

Strange are the ways of the enlightened ones.
They weep and laugh in one breath,
scorn on the lip, grace in the heart,
profanity on the tongue, praise in the heart.

Some say God dwells in the temple,
others put him in the mosque.
What do you seek abroad, ignorant one?
Realize, oh Huma, God is within you
________

ISLAMIC MYSTICAL POETRY

Rabia (she was one of the first Islamic Sufis,  8th C, Bhagdad)

O Allah! If I worship You 
for fear of Hell, then may I burn there!
If I worship You in hope of Paradise, 
may I never find it!
But if I worship You 
for Your Own sake,
let me be filled
with your eternal 
Beauty!

* * * *

In my soul there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church.
Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.

Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is illumined nothing,

where ecstasy gets poured into itself and becomes lost,

where the wing is fully alive but has no mind or body?

In my soul there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church

that dissolve, that dissolve in God.
* * * *
Would you come if someone called you
by the wrong name?

I wept,
because for years He did not enter my arms;
then one night I was told a
secret:

Perhaps the name you call God is
not really His, maybe
it is just an
alias.

I thought about it,
and came up with a pet name
for my Beloved I never mention to others.

All I can say is-
it works.
* * * *
Brothers, my peace is in my aloneness.
My Beloved is alone with me there, always.
I have found nothing in all the worlds
That could match His love,
This love that harrows the sands of my desert.
If I come to die of desire
And my Beloved is still not satisfied,
I would live in eternal despair.

To abandon all that He has fashioned
And hold in the palm of my hand
Certain proof that He loves me---
That is the name and the goal of my search....

~ Rabia Al Adawiyya
____________ 
Hafiz (Islamic Sufi, Persia, 1320 - 1390)

"You are dawn: I am only a candle!"



Light will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage.
Little by little, You will turn into stars.
Little by little, You will turn into
The whole sweet, amorous Universe.

Love will surely burst you wide open
Into an unfettered, booming new galaxy.
You will become so free
In a wonderful secret
And pure Love that flows
From a conscious, One-pointed, Infinite Light.

Even then, my dear, The Beloved will have fulfilled
Just a fraction, just a fraction!,
Of a promise He wrote upon your heart.
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient fertile plain
You hold the title to.

O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.
When your soul begins
To ever bloom and laugh
And spin in Eternal Ecstasy:

O little by little, You will turn into God!



* * * *

And
For no reason
I start skipping like a child.
And
For no reason
I turn into a leaf
That is carried so high
I kiss the sun's mouth
And dissolve.

And
For no reason
A thousand birds
Choose my head for a conference table,
Start passing their
Cups of wine
And their wild songbooks all around.

And
For every reason in existence
I begin to eternally,
To eternally laugh and love!

When I turn into a leaf
And start dancing,
I run to kiss our beautiful Friend
And I dissolve in the Truth
That I Am...
*  *  *  *
Just sit there right now.
Don’t do a thing.
Just rest.

For your separation from God
is the hardest work in this world.
Let me bring your trays of food
and something that you like to drink.
You can use my soft words
as a cushion for your head.
I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer
Call myself
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
A Buddhist, a Jew.
The Truth has shared so much of Itself
With me
That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even pure
Soul.
Love has
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed me
Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.

*  *  *  *

The earth braces itself for the feet
of a lover of God
about to dance.

The sky becomes timid
when a saint starts waving his arms
in joy;
for the sun, moon and planets
could all wind up
rolling on the floor.

My dear, the world and its laws
are such a minute part of existence,
should not all our suffering be like this:

Something just dropped
from an infant's palm,
sleeping against the breast
of God?

*  *  *  *

If I've left the mosque for the tavern,
don't preach to me:
the ceremonies go on far too long,
and life is short!

Now its Spring:
the gentle breeze
will scatter seeds in the barren earth
and the old will become young again!

Minstrel, sing your melodies
for this feast of love.
No more chatter of the past or future:
only Now!

*  *  *  *

The real Love I always kept a secret,
all my words sung quietly at night,
outside her window.

And when She let me in,
I took a thousand oaths of silence.
But then She said,

O yes, God said:
"What the hell, Hafiz!
Why not give the whole world
my address?"

*  *  *  *

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you....

Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft,
my voice so tender,
my need for God
so absolutely
clear.

*  *  *  *

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:
How are you?

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:

What is God?

If you think that the Truth can be known
From words,

If you think that the Sun and the Ocean

Can pass through that tiny opening
Called the mouth,

O someone should start laughing!

Someone should start wildly Laughing -
Now!
*  *  *  *
If the falling of a hoof
Ever rings the temple bells,

If a lonely man's final scream
Before he hangs himself

And the nightingale's perfect lyric
Of happiness
All become an equal cause to dance,

Then the Sun has at last parted
Its curtain before you -

God has stopped playing child's games
With your mind
And dragged you backstage by
The hair,

Shown to you the only possible
Reason

For this bizarre and spectacular
Existence.

Go running through the streets
Creating divine chaos,

Make everyone and yourself ecstatically mad
For the Friend's beautiful open arms.

Go running through this world
Giving love, giving love,

If the falling of a hoof upon this earth
Ever rings the
Temple
Bell.

*******

There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug.

So at night
I set fruit and grains
And little pots of wine and milk
Besides your soft earthen mounds,

And I often sing.

But still, my dear,
You do not come out.

I have fallen in love with Someone
Who hides inside you.

We should talk about this problem -

Otherwise,
I will never leave you alone."


~ Hafiz ~
_______________

Rumi (12th C. Creator of the Islamic Sufi tradition)

The way of love is not
a subtle argument.

The door there
is devastation.

Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they do it?

They fall, and falling,
they're given wings.

*
If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,

Like this.

If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God’s fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.

Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.

Like this.

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.

Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to "die for love," point
here.

Like this.
________

What is to be done, O Moslems? For I do not recognise myself.
I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Gabr, nor Moslem.

I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea;
I am not of Nature’s mint, nor of the circling heaven.

I am not of earth, nor of water, nor of air, nor of fire;
I am not of the empyrean, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity.

I am not of India , nor of China , nor of Bulgaria , nor of Saqsin.
I am not of the kingdom of ’Iraqian, nor of the country of Khorasan

I am not of this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise , nor of Hell.
I am not of Adam, nor of Eve, nor of Eden and Rizwan.

My place is the Placeless; my trace is the Traceless;
’Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.

I have put duality away; I have seen that the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call.

He is the first, He is the last, He is the outward, He is the inward;
I am intoxicated with Love’s cup, the two worlds have passed out of my ken;

If once in my life I spent a moment without thee,
From that time and from that hour I repent of my life.

If once in this world I win a moment with thee,
I will trample on both worlds; I will dance in triumph forever.
__________

Shall I tell you our secret?
We are charming thieves who steal hearts
and never fail because we are
the friends of the One.
The time for old preaching is over
we aim straight at the heart.
If the mind tries to sneak in and take over
we will string it up without delay.
We turn poison into medicine
and our sorrows into blessings.
All that was familiar,
our loved ones and ourselves
we had to leave behind.

Blessed is the poem that comes through me
but not of me because the sound of my own music
will drown the song of Love.
__________

Grind yourself, strip yourself down
to blind loving silence;
stay there, until you see
you are gazing at the Light
with its own ageless eyes.
__________



The grapes of my body and mind
can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit too, like grapes 
to his trampling
So my inmost heart can blaze 

and dance with joy.
Although the grapes go on weeping blood 

and sobbing "I can bear no more anguish, 
no more cruelty,"
The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears: 

"I am not working in ignorance.
You can deny me if you want, 

you have every excuse.
But it is I who am 

the Master of this Work.
And when through my Passion 

you reach Perfection,
You will never be done 

praising my name!"
_________
I have seen Him.
He was passing by like a drunk.
"O One," I said, ''Whose face
Is like a moon, where are You going?"
"Don't talk," He answered, "follow me."

I followed Him.
He started taking fast steps.
He accelerated so much that
The wind couldn't reach Him;
Lightning couldn't catch Him.

I have been annihilated since I have seen Him,
Undressed from my existence.
There remained "I," right in the middle without "me,"
Like a light in the glass lamp
That illuminates the earth and sky.

His grace fills and shines on the heart.
Heart is purified, becomes the chosen one.
Anything which shines from His light
Shines like Him, illuminates everything.


____________
A Turkish Sufi Poet, Yunus Emre, 14th C.
Oh Friend, when I began to love You,
my intellect went and left me.
I gazed at the rivers. I dove into the seas.

But a spark of Love's fire
can make the seas boil.
I fell in, caught fire, and burned.

A soul in love is free of worries.
With love all problems left me.
With love I became happy.

When the nightingale saw the face
of the red rose, it fell in love.
I saw the faces of those who matured,
and became a nightingale.

I was a dead tree fallen onto the path.
When Beloved threw me a glance and
brought me to life.

Dear, if you are a true lover,
humble yourself.
Humility was chosen by them all.

~Yunus Emre

Islamic Poetry & Philosophy




This site contains mystical poetry of Rumi, Hafiz, and Mansur al Hallaj, plus an article by a Muslim scholar on the meaning of 'Jihad.'

____________________________

The Sufi sect of Islam grew out of the mystical love poetry of Rumi and Hafiz, written in Pharsee, the ancient Persian language. This sect has deep affinities with mystical Christianity and Hinduism, and its love poetry shares the same symbolic language that we have seen in the poems of Hindu Bhakti and the Song of Songs of the Bible.

Sufism is very popular in America today and offers a loving, spiritual, open-hearted form of Islam that we usually don't see in the media. It is quite opposite in spirit to the fundamentalist Islam that breeds terrorism. Sufis were often persecuted by more conservative fundamentalist Muslims. Al Hallaj was publicly tortured and crucified for proclaim, "I Am the Truth!" (an'l Haqq) The picture above portrays one of the spiritual practices of the Sufis, a dancing meditation.
Poetry of Rabia Al Adawiyya (8th C.)
(She was one of the first Islamic mystics)
Brothers, my peace is in my aloneness.
My Beloved is alone with me there, always.
I have found nothing in all the worlds
That could match His love,
This love that harrows the sands of my desert.
If I come to die of desire
And my Beloved is still not satisfied,
I would live in eternal despair.

To abandon all that He has fashioned
And hold in the palm of my hand
Certain proof that He loves me---
That is the name and the goal of my search....

Sufi Poems of Rumi (1217-1273)
There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.
Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild Darling!
At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.
Close the language-door,
and open the love-window
The moon won't use the door,
only the window.
____________

Look at Love...
how it tangles
with the one fallen in love
look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend
why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how unknown merges into the known
why think separately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last
look at your heart and tongue
one feels but deaf and dumb
the other speaks in words and signs
look at water and fire
earth and wind
enemies and friends all at once
the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together
look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox
you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me
be like sugarcane
sweet yet silent
don't get mixed up with bitter words
my beloved grows
right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be?
___________

The sound of salaams rising
as waves diminish down in prayer,

hoping for some trace of the one
whose trace does not appear.

If anyone asks you to say who you are,
say without hesitation, soul

within soul within soul. There's a pearl diver
who does not know how to swim!

No matter, pearls are handed him
on the beach. We lovers laugh

to hear, "This should be more that
and that more this," coming

from people sitting in a wagon
tilted in a ditch. Going in search

of the heart, I found a huge rose
under my feet, and roses under

all our feet! How to say this
to someone who denies it?

The robe we wear is the sky's cloth.
Everything is soul and flowering.
_________




I start out on this road, call it love
or emptiness, I only know what’s not here—

resentment seeds, back-scratching greed,
worrying about outcomes, fear of people.

When a bird gets free, it doesn’t go back
for remnants left on the bottom of the cage.

Close by, I’m rain; far off, a cloud of fire.
I seem restless, but I’m deeply at ease.

Branches tremble, the roots are still.

I am a universe in a handful of dirt,
Whole when totally demolished.

Talk about choices does not apply to me.
While intelligence considers options,

I am somewhere, lost in the wind.
___________

No one knows what makes the soul wake up so happy!
Maybe a dawn breeze has blown the veil from the face of God.

A thousand new moons appear. Roses open laughing.
Hearts become perfect rubies like those from Badakshan....

There's no answer to any of this. No one knows the source of joy.
A poet breathes into a reed flute, and the tip of every hair makes music....
___________


What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured

into a huge basin. All religions, all this singing,
one song.

The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight
looks slightly different

on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different
on this other one, but

it is still one light. We have borrowed these clothes, these
time-and-space personalities,

from a light, and when we praise, we pour them back in.
_____________


On the day I die, when I'm being carried
toward the grave, don't weep. Don't say,

He's gone! He's gone. Death has nothing
to do with going away. The sun sets and

the moon sets, but they're not gone.
Death is a coming together. The tomb

looks like a prison, but it's really
release into union. The human seed goes

down in the ground like a bucket into
the well where Joseph is. It grows and

comes up full of some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here and immediately

opens with a shout of joy there.
_________

Sufi Poems of Hafiz (Persia, 1320 - 1390) 

"You are dawn: I am only a candle!"
 *
I have learned
So much from God
That I can no longer
Call myself
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
A Buddhist, a Jew.
The Truth has shared so much of Itself
With me
That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even pure
Soul.
Love has
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed me
Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.
*
The earth braces itself for the feet
of a lover of God
about to dance.
The sky becomes timid
when a saint starts waving his arms
in joy;
for the sun, moon and planets
could all wind up
rolling on the floor.

My dear, the world and its laws
are such a minute part of existence,
should not all our suffering be like this:

Something just dropped
from an infant's palm,
sleeping against the breast
of God?

*

If I've left the mosque for the tavern,
don't preach to me:
the ceremonies go on far too long,
and life is short!

Now its Spring:
the gentle breeze
will scatter seeds in the barren earth
and the old will become young again!

Minstrel, sing your melodies
for this feast of love.
No more chatter of the past or future:
only Now!

*

The real Love I always kept a secret,
all my words sung quietly at night,
outside her window.

And when She let me in,
I took an thousand oaths of silence.
But then She said,

O yes, God said,
"What the hell, Hafiz!
Why not give the whole world
my address?"

*
Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you....

Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft,
my voice so tender,
my need for God
so absolutely
clear.


*
I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:

How are you?

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:

What is God?

If you think that the Truth can be known
From words,

If you think that the Sun and the Ocean

Can pass through that tiny opening
Called the mouth,

O someone should start laughing!

Someone should start wildly Laughing -
Now!
*
There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug.

So at night
I set fruit and grains
And little pots of wine and milk
Besides your soft earthen mounds,

And I often sing.

But still, my dear,
You do not come out.

I have fallen in love with Someone
Who hides inside you.

We should talk about this problem -

Otherwise,
I will never leave you alone."


~ Hafiz ~
_________________________

Mystic Poetry of Mansur al-Hallaj, Translated by Bernard Lewis


1. 'I am the One whom I love'

I am the One whom I love,
and the One whom I love is myself.
We are two souls incarnated in one body;
if you see me, you see Him,
if you see Him, you see us.

2. 'Your spirit is mingled with mine'

Your spirit is mingled with mine
as wine is mixed with water;
whatever touches you touches me.
In all the stations of the soul you are I.

3. 'Kill me, my faithful friends'

Kill me, my faithful friends,
For in my being killed is my life.

Love is that you remain standing
In front of your Beloved
When you are stripped of all your attributes;
Then His attributes become your qualities.

Between me and You, there is only me.
Take away the me, so only You remain.

4. 'You glide between the heart and its casing '

You glide between the heart
and its casing as tears glide from the eyelid.

You dwell in my inwardness,
in the depths of my heart,
as souls dwell in bodies.

Nothing passes from rest to motion
unless you move it in hidden ways,
O new moon!
_______________________________







Jihad in Islam
By Dr. Mohammed Ahmad


(This article was presented at the Symposium on “Islam and World Peace” held in Columbus Ohio, July 31, 2004)


“There shall be no compulsion in religion” (Koran 2:256).


The True meaning of Jihad
 

If one were to pick up an ordinary dictionary of the Arabic
language, the meaning of the word Jihad could have been
easily understood. Imam Raghib (famous lexicologist)
explains that the word Jihad is derived from jahd or juhd
meaning ability, exertion or power. Jihad and
Mujahida mean the exerting of one’s power in repelling the
enemy. The same authority then goes on to say: “Jihad is of
three kinds; viz., the carrying on of a struggle: 1. against a
visible enemy, 2. against the devil,and 3. against self (nafs).

According to Lane’s Lexicon, jahada properly signifies the
using or exerting of one’s utmost power, efforts, endeavors
or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation;
and this is of three kinds, namely a visible enemy, the devil,
and one’s self; all of which are included in the term as used
in the Kuran. The word Jihad is, therefore, far from being
synonymous with the word war. The meaning of Jihad
as “war undertaken for the propagation of Islam”, which
is supposed by many Western writers to be the primary sig-
nificance of the word, is unknown equally to the Arabic lan-
guage and the teachings of the Holy Qur’an.

We will discuss this subject in light of the Quran and
Hadith to clarify this misrepresentation.

Jihad in The Holy Quran
 

It is clear from the Qur’an that the word jihadhas has been
used therein to mean ‘striving’ or ‘exerting’. For instance:

“Those who strive (jaahada) for Us, We guide them
in Our ways”(26:69). Here the meaning is to carry
on a spiritual struggle to attain nearness to God.

• “Whoever strives (jaahada), he only strives for
his own self” (29:6). The meaning here again is
struggle for self-purification.

“We have enjoined on man to do good to his par-
ents. But if they strive (jaahadaa) with you to
worship that of which you have no knowledge
[i.e. false gods], then obey them not”(29:8). Here
the meaning is that of ‘arguing’ or ‘disputing’
with unbelievers.

“Strive for God a true striving (jihad).”(22:78);
“Obey not the unbelievers and hypocrites, and strive against
them a mighty striving (jihad) with it [i.e. the Qur’an]”(25:52).
Both of these verses give the command to conduct jihad. The first
refers to a jihad for attaining nearness to God. The second mentions
a jihad against the deniers of Islam, not by the sword, but by means of the
Qur’an itself. It is called a “mighty jihad”, and is a constant duty.

Example of The Holy Prophet At Makka
 

The Holy Prophet Muhammad had received revelations
ordering jihad while he was still a resident of Makka and
before the emigration to Madina [“Strive for God a true striving
(jihad)”(22:78); “Obey not the unbelievers and hypocrites,
and strive against them a mighty striving (jihad) with it
(i.e. with the Qur’an)”(25:52)]. But Mohammed did not raise the
sword against the unbelievers who were bitterly persecuting him
and his followers. Yet he was certainly conducting a jihad in Makka
in obedience to these verses. This was a jihad of following the word
of God and propagating the message of Islam. This mode of conduct
clearly proves that jihad was not equivalent to war in the Holy
Prophet’s eyes. During this period of persecution at Makka,
when some of his companions asked permission to fight, the
Holy Prophet said: “I have been commanded to forgive, so do
not fight” (Hadith collection Nasa’i, Book of Jihad).

Example of the Holy Prophet At Madina 


The Muslims emigrated to Madina and took refuge there,
yet their enemies from Makka did not leave them alone.
They threatened the then chief of Madina, Abdullah Ibn
Ubayy, in a letter as follows:

“O people of Madina, you have given refuge to our
adversary. We swear by God that if you do not fight
them or expel them, we shall come against you and
kill your fighting men and capture your women” (Abu
Dawud, vol. ii, p. 495).

Then the unbelievers of Makka decided to attack Madina
and annihilate Islam and the Muslims by the sword. It was
then only that God permitted the Muslims to conduct jihad
with the sword, because not to do so would have meant
suicide for the Muslims.

Therefore, in year 2 of the Hijra (emigration to Madina)
the following Quranic verse was revealed:

“Permission to fight is given to those upon whom war
is made, because they have been wronged — and
God is well able to help them: those who have been
expelled from their homes unjustly, only for saying,
‘Allah is our Lord’. And if God had not allowed one
group of people to repel another, then there would
have been pulled down cloisters and synagogues and
churches and mosques, in which God’s name is
remembered” (22:39, 40).

Four Conditions for Permitting Jihad by the Sword 

Four conditions are given here for allowing jihad by
the sword: 1) Fighting has to be initiated by the unbelievers,
as is clear from the words “those upon whom war is
made”; 2) There has to be extreme persecution of the
Muslims — “because they have been wronged”; 3) The
aim of the unbelievers has to be the destruction of Islam
and Muslims’ freedom of worship, as is clear from
the words “there would have been pulled down cloisters
and synagogues and churches and mosques in which God’s
name is remembered.”; 4) The object of the Muslims must
only be self-defense and protection, as shown by the words
“if God had not allowed one people to repel another”.

The only other verse allowing fighting in the Quran states:
“Fight in the way of God those who fight you, but do not
go over the limit”(2:190). Hence, the command in the Holy
Quran to fight, or conduct jihad with the sword, is subject to
the above conditions.

Jihad in The Hadith (Holy Sayings of the Prophet)

Just as the Holy Quran has used the word jihad in a very
wide sense, so too is it’s use in Hadith. For instance:

• The Holy Prophet said: Do jihad against the idolators with your wealth,
lives and tongues (Mishkat, Book of Jihad, ch. 1, sec. 2).

• A group of Muslim soldiers came to the Holy Prophet [from a battle].
He said: Welcome, you have come from the lesser jihad to the greater
jihad. It was said: What is the greater jihad? He said: The striving of a
servant against his low desires (Al-Tasharraf, Part I, p. 70).

• The Holy Prophet said: The greatest jihad is to speak the word of truth
to a tyrant (Mishkat, Book of Rulership and Judgment, ch. 1, sec. 2).

• The Holy Prophet said: Do jihad against your desires as you do jihad
against your foes (Mufradat, under root j-h-d, p. 100).

• The most excellent jihad is the Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca).
(Bukhari, Book of Sacrifices, 25:4)

• The mujahid [one engaged in jihad] is he who strives against
his own self to obey God.

These hadith make it clear that jihad means to exert oneself to the utmost,
whether by means of one’s wealth or tongue or hands or life, whether it is
to God or to propagate the word of God. To summarize, the Holy Quran
of jihad: 1) A great jihad; 2) The greatest jihad; 3) A lesser jihad.
The first two are to be undertaken constantly, while the third,
which includes jihad by means of the sword, is only undertaken
if specific conditions are satisfied.

Hadith to be interpreted in light of the Quran


Misinterpretation of Hadith has occurred due to the disregard of the
most fundamental rule of Hadith interpretation; that is, interpreting it
himself laid down this rule: “My sayings do not abrogate the word of Allah,
but the word of Allah can abrogate my sayings”(Al-Mishkat al-Masabih 1:6, iii).

Disregarding this principle rule can lead to misinterpretation and misdeeds.
This is well illustrated by the Bin Laden statement referred to earlier:
(Quotation from “Unveiling Islam”) “Considering the fate of one of the
willing martyrs of that operation, Bin Laden quotes the Hadith: ‘ I was ordered
to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.”

Let us closely look at this Hadith and then study it in light of the Holy Quran.
The Hadith states:

“Ibn Umar reported, The Messenger of Allah (peace
and blessings of Allah be on him) said: ‘I have been commanded
that I should fight these people till they bear witness that there is
no god but Allah and keep up prayer and pay zakat. When they do this,
their blood and their property shall be safe with me except
as Islam requires, and their reckoning is with Allah’ (B.2:16).”

It should first of all be noted that the hadith begins with
the words, “I have been commanded”, and the command to
fight is contained in the Holy Qur’an in the following
words: “And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight
with you and do not exceed this limit”(2:190 Holy Qur’an).
Muslims, therefore, could not resort to fighting unless an
enemy was the first to assume hostilities. Keeping this in
mind clearly indicates that what the hadith means is that
fighting begun under these conditions is to cease when the
enemy accepts Islam. Bukhari himself hints at this when he
quotes the hadith under the heading: “But if they repent and
keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, then leave their way
free,”i.e., cease fighting with them.

Misinterpretation of this Hadith clearly shows the willful ignorance
of both parties, i.e., Bin Laden and the hostile evangelical composers
of the Book, “Unveiling Islam.”
________________________________________