As the mystical side of Islam developed, it was a woman, Rabi’a al-Adawiyya (717-801 A.D.), who first expressed the relationship with the divine in a language we have come to recognize as specifically Sufic by referring to God as the Beloved. Rabi’a was the first human being to speak of the realities of Sufism with a language that anyone could understand. Though she experienced many difficulties in her early years, Rabi’a’s starting point was neither a fear of hell nor a desire for paradise, but only love. “God is God,” she said, “for this I love God… not because of any gifts, but for Itself.” Her aim was to melt her being in God. According to her, one could find God by turning within oneself. As Muhammad said, “He who knows himself knows his Lord.” Ultimately it is through love that we are brought into the unity of Being.
October 29, 2009
Reflection for Thursday October 29, 2009: for this I love God… not because of any gifts, but for ItselfPosted by BB BAUM under Gnosis, islam, mysticism, sufi
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October 24, 2009
Well some would say Sufism came before Islam, it certainly has its roots prior to Mohammed.
Sufis of course are entrenched in Islam. No real serious Sufi would renounce Islam, its tenets or burn the Qur’an.
Islam of course often finds problems with Sufism and accuses it of not being monotheistic enough and of course Sufis have supposedly often dealt with the Djinn.
SO what we have here is the usual esoteric and exoteric struggle.
The exoteric (for the many) denies the esoteric (for the few)
We find this in Christianity, mainstream Christians often run screaming from any form of Mysticism and contemplation. Christianity of course has a long standing history of this
Judaism has oral torah or Kabbalah as it is often known. This esoteric path of unification with the divine has been seen as blasphemy, occultic and full of naughty things that more exoteric religious and non religious Jews run screaming from. Of course stories such as the Golem do not help the esoteric “cause”
So we find in Islam exactly the same dilemma.
Of course then we also find people that embrace the esoteric but think they need to distance themselves from the exoteric. With investigation one will find that the esoteric is entrenched and a part of the exoteric. The two are inseparable and are one living body. The esoteric thus becomes a deeper part or deeper understanding of the exoteric, kind of like what is below the surface on an ice berg.
Thus the exoteric often denies the esoteric. The esoteric really has no need to do this. Mainly as it approaches the ultimate truth, and understanding that God transcends any religion… and that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are meaningless words.
So IS Sufism a part of Islam?
“I believe in the religion
Whatever direction its caravans may take,
For love is my religion and my faith.”
October 21, 2009
The wind blows
It doesn’t decide to blow one way
the wind blows
October 14, 2009
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Academic Nonsense, Science, and Torah
It was recently brought to my attention that a respected so-called Old Testament scholar and author in The Netherlands recently made an earth-shattering discovery that she will be presenting at Radboud University in The Netherlands. Wow. What a discovery. She claims that the first sentence in the Book of Genesis “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth” is not a true translation of the Hebrew. (No kidding! We don’t translate it that way, either!) Rather, she has done some “fresh textual analysis” that suggests that the great book never intended to imply that God created the world. Actually, she says, the Earth was already in place when God made humans and animals. Someone else must have created the universe itself long before God came on the scene and added a couple of people and animals and a shrub or two. She derives all this from her analysis of the etymology of the Hebraic word “bara,” customarily translated as “created.” It doesn’t really say that, she claims. “Bara” she insists, means to “spatially separate” and if you read the first line of Genesis with that translation, she posits, you will realize that God only spatially separated the heavens and the earth, which in turn implies that the heavens and the earth were already extant and that God only added a few features to what was already there as opposed to having created the universe from scratch, ex-nihilo (The Telegraph [UK], October 8, 2009).
Mind-blowing. I have been up all night trying to understand her theory and how it proves anything but the sad state of academia. Scholars who have no idea of the vernacular or intention of our Torah have for centuries been drawing theories about its content and have had the audacity as well to present their “findings” at international scholarly conferences. Perhaps I might compose a definitive critique of the science of Neuropsychology since I am totally unlearned in that field, and present it to some Conference on Psychiatry in Vladivostok. Not being a historian, I might also write a thesis about American History, that George Washington is a myth invented in the early 20th century to boost patriotism in anticipation of the Spanish American War. Or that Theodore Roosevelt was really Captain Kangaroo (similar mustache).
Even though there is some truth to the professor’s “discovery” that “bara” means a lot more than “created,” it certainly is not anything new to those of us who have a knowledge of Hebraic and Aramaic etymology and who have studied the classical commentaries on the Torah writ by ancient and early-medieval rabbis. More importantly, however, it proves nothing about her cartoon theory.
In the Kabbalaistic writings, the unknowable, unpeggable, un-namable mystery behind the origin of existence, which we glibly refer to as “God”, created space first, within which to create matter, thus spatially separating creation from itself, so to speak. As the ancient Kabbalists put it: “Were God to fill the universe, the universe could not exist; and were God to not fill the universe, the universe could not exist. The space of the universe is thus both filled with God and void of God, in the sense that it is just sufficiently void of God in order to enable the possibility of existence, and just sufficiently filled with God in order to enable existence altogether. Thus is God at the same time hidden and revealed, hidden and revealed” (Zohar, Vol. 1, folio 39b). “Behold the Sacred Ancient One, they wrote, “the mystery of all mysteries, is separate from everything and yet at the same time not separated from anything, for all is joined within God and God is joined within all. For God is everything, the Ancient of all Ancients and the most hidden of all that is hidden; who is without shape and yet with shape — with shape in order to sustain the universe, and without shape because God Itself is not subject to the Realm of Existence, having created it to begin with” (Zohar, Vol. 3, folio 228a).
It is sad that so-called professors of the so-called Old Testament continue to present our rich and ancient Torah as some kind of naïve, literal writ, which then places Torah in direct conflict with Science. And many of our people consequently become confounded, not knowing which to subscribe to, Torah or Science. To them I say: theories such as that of the professor are laughable to both Science and Torah alike. It is a shame she didn’t bother consulting with the People of the Book regarding the Book of the People.
There is no conflict between science and Torah. Nowhere does the Torah imply the universe was created in six days as we know it. After all, we measure time by our spin around the sun, and the sun does not appear on the scene until the fourth “day”! The thirteenth-century kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak of Acco theorized the age of the universe to be around 14 billion years old! (in his work Shoshan Yesod Olam). This was written into our tradition eight centuries before modern science arrived at a similar estimate! The ancient rabbis describe the universe as originating with God’s Light, which condensed to form matter (Zohar, Vol. 1, folio 30b and Vol. 2, folios 75b-76a; Midrash B’reisheet Rabbah 3:1). Or as Einstein would put it millennia later: E=MC2.
Lucy and the recently discovered earlier human ancestor are wondrous discoveries. But do you not also see how each discovery claims to be THE earliest until another is discovered, and then another? And often these discoveries are rebuffed by further investigation but the public is not informed of such. In the early 1900’s, for example, museums around the globe took turns boasting an exhibition of a stooped, ape-like man, dubbed the Neanderthal Man, I think, with the claim that the missing link in the evolution of humans from apes had finally been discovered. And as we know, this stooped, ape-like man was etched in stone in all of our school textbooks to this day. Soon after, another fossil was discovered, labeled Proconsul Africanus, and was immediately heralded by scientists as the progenitor of both apes and humans, and immediately entered into school textbooks as well. But to the dismay of both scientists and textbook publishers, in 1958 the Congress of Zoology in London declared that (1) the stooped ape-like man was really nothing more than the remains of a modern-type fellow affected by age and arthritis, and (2) the intriguing fossil Proconsul Africanus proved to be that of an ordinary ape! (Time Magazine, July 28, 1958). Have the textbooks been revised to reflect these and other such shifts in scientific discoveries? Of course not.
Yet, unbeknownst to most of us, the ancient Jewish mystical tradition reminds us that the Genesis story of our Torah is not meant to necessarily imply the beginning of all beginnings but rather the beginning of this world as we know it, of humans as we know them, and so on, and that there was an earlier series of universes, of earths, of people and creatures unknown to us today — except perhaps from fossils. We call this the Torah of Shemitto’t — the cycles of times preceding those of Adam and Eve. According to many of the early Jewish mystics, there were full pre-Adamic human civilizations that had arisen long before homo sapiens walked the earth, and that they were eventually destroyed. As the third-century Rabbi Avahu taught: “God created worlds and destroyed them, created them and destroyed them, until this one came into being” (Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 3:14). The Talmud alludes to 974 generations that existed prior to Adam and Eve (Talmud Bavli, Chagigah 13b).
Science and Judaism are not in conflict. Science and Torah are more in cahoots with one another than you might think. It is Scientism, that clashes with the notion of God and spirituality, not Science.
“I think that part of the answer is that scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon that cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money,” wrote scientist Dr. Robert Jastrow, who once served as the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Activities. “There is a kind of religion in science…..This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under the conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual, when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications…..” In conclusion, he writes: “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries” (published in The New York Times Magazine, June 25, 1978).
Perhaps the 12th-century Rabbi Moshe ibn Maimon (Maimonides) said it best: “The primary source of confusion in our search for the meaning of the universe as a whole, or even of its parts, is rooted in our mistaken assumption that all of existence is for our sake alone. For if we examine our universe objectively, we will discover how very small a part of it we really are. The truth is, that all of humankind and all the species of life-forms on our earth are as nothing against the backdrop of vast ever-continuing cosmic existence” (Morah Nevuchim [Guide to the Perplexed], 3:12).
Einstein once summed it up this way: “The most beautiful and most profound emotion one can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the source of all true science” (quoted in Newsweek, July 23, 1979).
Visit the website of Rabbi Gershon Winkler at: http://walkingstick.org/
or peruse more of his teachings on www.examiner.com/x-16088-Ancient-Jewish-Wisdom-Examiner
October 10, 2009
what is rational to one is irrational to another.
If we examine zen for example, we discover logic and rationalism, as described and thought of by most people is lost…..
But if we understand Zen, Zen koans are perfectly rational. The same goes for discussingt he nature of non dualism and God itself. We can state that God is hot and cold. Rationally and logically speaking God cannot be hot AND cold, god can only be one or the other. However certain religious views go beyond simple rationality.
We can see this alive an well in the logic of the wave particle conundrum at the quantum level.
How we can measure how fast a body is travelling or we can measure its location, but we are unable to do both. Logic and rationality thus, in certain contexts are wonderful, in other contexts the goal poasts and boundaries change, which may cause some people to state they are irrational; but for those that understand that which is labelled irrational, it is perfectly rational.
A perfect example is the Gnostic text, the Thunder perfect mind…which is similar to many religious texts in providing seeming opposites as a whole….
I am the one who has been hated everywhere
and who has been loved everywhere.
I am the one whom they call Life,
and you have called Death.
I am the one whom they call Law,
and you have called Lawlessness.
I am the one whom you have pursued,
and I am the one whom you have seized.
I am the one whom you have scattered,
and you have gathered me together.
I am the one before whom you have been ashamed,
and you have been shameless to me.
I am she who does not keep festival,
and I am she whose festivals are many.
I, I am godless, and I am the one whose God is great.
I am the one whom you have reflected upon,
and you have scorned me.
I am unlearned, and they learn from me.
This seeming illogical rationalisation often scares those that cling to ordinary rationality. At forums such as these it results in people name calling, considering another view is “clap trap” or that simply people are evading things and being dishonest.
Rationality is in the eye of the beholder and the level of understanding of the perceiver.
October 9, 2009
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“Bob”, in the context I was discussing, which is “non dualism” or transcendance..or the unification of all opposites…or any number of related or similar terms….
what we have is this….
theism or belief in God is a belief
atheism is a non belief in God
But BOTH are stances, belief systems
You see if I have a glass of water
I can beleive it is half full
Or I could beleive it isnt half full.
Belief in it being half full is a beleif
Non belief in it being half full is also a belief, a non belief.
You see both are concepts, in the concept or stance or understanding of going beyond dualities, dialetic consciouness we find that any opposites, any concepts, any beliefs or belief systems are false.
Yes, if I went out into a road and stood in it, I would likely be hit by a car. Cars, road, monkeys in spain, they exist. But do they?
Are we seeing, perceiving them as they really are?
Mysticism (for want of a better word) posits that things are real and exist, but we don’t see them correctly. Thus if I looked at a road, a car, a spanish monkey from spain with a microscope, I would see a far different picture.
Those that rely on critical thinking, evidence, logic and related intellectual ways of perceiving reality have a certain picture… to them that monkey, that car and road are a certain way.
To be a Buddhist (as was the original discussion) one goes beyond such ways of perception, goes beyond what is called mundane consciouness. Thus we see the road, the car, the monkey through the joining of opposites, through the joining of intellect, intuition, through the joining of manifest and unmanifest (as the Isa Upanishad expresses it) into a NEW mode, a different mode….
This new mode, that is beyond intellectual posturing, is beyond concepts, beyond beliefs and non beliefs, it is beyond words… it is something you experience. As mentioned, one must “shut up and meditate.”
So what we have here are those unable to conceive of such notions because:
they are trapped in intellectualisation
and have little or no experience of any of these conceptions of transcendance through the intellect or at a more profound level, through direct experience (a level of Gnosis).
Thus atheism and thweim in this context are both “beliefs”..beliefs that hinder one.
All things have Buddha mind, the road exists, its perception of existing is not wrong… There really are monkeys in spain. But there is also no monkeys in spain and no roads….
This is a paradoxical logic that is found when one appraoches higher states of being and goes beyond merely “thinking”. A simple example I often use, “There is a difference between eating an apple, and thinking about one.” This paradoxical nature of reality is something that one who relies on logic, intellect, evidence and critical thinkign cannot fathom. Why? It is like trying to teach a dog calculus….the dog will never understand calculus, let alone be able to apply anythign it learns to its life. Somethings are beyond words, concepts, beliefs.
But until you eat an apple, you are just thinking about them.
So we get what we have here, confused and upset people who think I am spouting clap trap, being dishonest and plainly stupid…simply because I perceive things differently. But thats the way of the world isnt it?
“What we’ve got here is… failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it… well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men. ”
–Cool Hand Luke
October 6, 2009
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c.1978 Exegesis by Philip K. Dick
The belief that we are pluriforms of God voluntarily descended to this prison world, voluntarily losing our memory, identity and supernatural powers (faculties), all of which can be regained through anamnesis (or, sometimes, the mystical conjunction), is one of the most radical religious views known in the West. But it is known. It is regarded as the Great Blasphemy: replication of the original sin mentioned in the First Book of Adam and Eve and in Genesis. For this pride and aspiration (we are told by orthodoxy) our original fall and exile and punishment, our being taken from our home the gardenland and put into the prison, was inflicted on us. “They wish to be equal to – like – us,” the Elohim say, and toss us down. Yet I have reason to believe that this, “the Great Satanic Blasphemy,” is true.
First, we are here voluntarily. We did not sin and we were not punished; we elected to descend. Why? To infuse the divine into the lowest strata of creation in order to halt its decomposing – the sinking of its lower realm. This points to a primordial crisis in creation in the total macrocosm (hexagram 12, as illustrated here). The yin form two (dark, deterministic) part was splitting away from the yang or form one. In conventional terms, heaven (upper realm) and earth (lower realm) were separating, carrying the lives within the lower away from their form one (upper) counterparts (this can be viewed as the Godhead itself falling apart, into its yang and yin two halves, with the lower form universe as God expressed physically in time and space). The solution was for the divine (yang, light, form one) to follow the lower realm down, permeating it and thus reuniting the cosmos into one totality. To do this, elements (in ancient terms, sparks) of light advanced (descended) into the dark kingdom, the immutable prison world; upon doing so they shed (and knew they would shed) their bright nature, memory, identity, faculties, and powers, and fell under the dominion of the delusion that the dark kingdom is real (which when severed from the upper realm it is not; i.e. the world we presently live in doesn’t exist). There they have lived as prisoners of the master magician, lord of the dark realm who poses as the creator (and who may not know of the light god, the true creator, his other half). But the light god and his pluriforms, the descending (invading) sparks, have cunningly distributed clues in the dark realm to recall to the drugged and intoxicated sparks of light their true nature and mission (and true source of home). Upon encountering these cryptic clues the forgetful sparks of the upper realm, now prisoners in and of the lower realm, remember, regain their powers and faculties, and link back up with the upper realm and the light god; they are the light god in pluriform, his way of invading the lower realm in disguise. The light god (the divine) has now crucially occupied critical stations in the sinking lower realm, and begins the reannexing of it back into the totality composed of both realms. The sinking ceases; the master magician is stripped of his autonomy and assimilated to the yang part of the Godhead as its passive counterpart, and once more there is one macrocosm ruled by the yang or active (creative) light god assisted by the now receptive yin (dark) side. The divine has triumphed at all levels; the prison is burst, and the vast, light-filled garden kingdom restored as the home of all creatures. These now whole creatures, composed equally of yin and yang, are what I term homoplasmates: The yin part is home (as we know ourselves to be now, only), and the light or yang part is the plasmate or energy part (vs. the physical). Thus renewed and complete microcosms mirroring the renewed and complete macrocosm are achieved. Reality is imparted to the otherwise irreal lower realm, and the upper realm now extends physically into the realm of matter. The integrity of the Godhead is restored; its two halves function in harmony; and the primordial split (or crisis) is resolved – healed.
This is a view compounded of Zoroastrianism, Brahmanism, Gnosticism, Taoism, the macro-microcosmos of Hermes Trismegistus and other mystery religions, and not very much of orthodox Christianity. Christianity can be added if the pluriform microsparks of light are considered plural saviors or Christs comprising a single mystical corpus that is distributed widely in time and space in the dark realm but possessing only one psyche that is somehow also God, the yang or light god.
I have read the above cosmology over, and find no fault in it. In fact, I am amazed. It is in a sense acosmic, and certainly Gnostic, but the Taoist overlay is novel and pleasing; the Taoist overlay redeems it from the flaws of conventional dualist religions and the problems therein. Instead of stressing moral aspects (“good vs. bad”), it stresses epistemological (“real vs. irreal,” which I can understand). The lower realm sinks not because it is corrupt or evil or somehow has rebelled but because, as shown in hexagram 12, it is the nature of yin to sink, as it is the nature of yang to rise. The pre-Socratics (and Plato in “Timaeus”) were aware of this; v. the model of the winnowing fan and the concept of the vortex. Yang must assimilate yin to keep the totality intact; i.e. yang must renounce its natural tendency to rise and must descend. It cannot expect yin to rise, because yin is not wise; it is only noos that can understand that it must compensate against its own natural tendencies, and do what is unnatural to it. Yin is, so to speak, thick, unthinking, not noos [mind] but soma [body]; noos and soma (or psyche and soma) are the total universe organism. Descending into the yin realm is a sacrifice on yang’s part, which through its bright or wise nature it realizes it must make, but it pays a great cost in terms of suffering: loss of memory and identity, abilities, and faculties: It becomes pseudoyin, literally disguised in the yin realm as if it were actually yin, even to the point of forgetting (until reminded), that it is not. This is the agony we face here in this irreal and dense yin realm, we yang traces: This is not our home. We are voluntary exiles here, alienated and alone, violating our own natures for a salvific purpose – a necessary purpose. Yin would not understand this, and until anamnesis sets in for us, we in our distress do not understand the reason either. Eventually it will be revealed to us; meanwhile we ache with longing for our proper home, dimly remembered but deeply felt for. Thus we suppose we are being punished; it feels like punishment, and we make the error of assuming we have sinned. On the contrary; we have renounced joy now, to produce greater joy later, for the good of all creation; we are the Godhead itself suffering the need to be what it is not, to ensure the ultimate stability of krasis (as Empedocles termed it): the unity of love.
Lest any Christian reject this, let him now read the Fourth Gospel in connection with this, and see for himself the similarities.
Lest any Taoist reject this, let him now see that hexagram 12 has turned to hexagram 11, Peace.
The upper trigram, in descending, has forced the lower trigram to rise. Disorder no longer reigns; heaven and earth are not pulling apart. There is harmony.
Moral: It is the ethical requirement placed on the yang traces by their own bright nature to abandon their natural tendency to rise, to escape what is heavy and dark and sinking; they must go in pursuit of the falling part of the cosmos, for the benefit of those and that which otherwise would be lost. This is the highest law: to violate one’s own nature for another’s good. And the most difficult – and painful – law to fulfill. Because of this need there is distress in the cosmos, distress for the innocent especially. My cosmology simply presents it as a fact. To escape it we would have to allow the cosmos to decompose. Could we do that? The tragedy is that by the very nature of the sacrifice we make we are occluded from knowing why. This is part of our sacrifices: our yang understanding. We must take on the dullness of yin to save the cosmos; we sacrifice the knowledge of why we sacrifice, and assume guilt – spurious guilt – in its place. This is asking a lot.
But consider who we really are. Or once were and will be again. Who else can do it? There is no one else. There is only yin, which does not know. The part of the organism that knows must help the part that doesn’t know, but this means abandoning its own knowing. It becomes what it helps, a dreadful irony, one that hurts. But it is only temporary, just for a little while. And then we go home for all eternity.