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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Where We Focus

It is interesting to notice people at seemingly the same time and place experiencing and seeing different things. When I was in college, in several classes, we were shown a film about eye witnesses of a car accident. When interviewed, each had wildly different takes on what happened, including such details as the color of the cars.

In more personal situations, I notice that not only something like the above can happen, but also the filter of past experiences, hurts, unresolved issues, etc. play upon the current moment. Even in a friendly group, each person reacts to a simple statement differently - some with positive responses and some all the way to the edge of hostility. So some may infer helpfulness while another may infer belittling. The reaction speaks volumes about the person responding and less about the one making the statement.

Let's expand this to our spiritual journey. Each segment of religion has one or more books they consider sacred. Each book is written by a series of humans, so that human flaws crept into the writing. The adherent of a particular segment will select the portion of their sacred book that matches their heart and mindset. The mystical will look for the mystical. The legalistic will look for laws to use as clubs against others. The loving and seeker of the Presence of God, will see verses about that and interpret the more violent passages metaphorically. The angry and seeker of superiority will see verses about their way being the only and the need to harm others, and they will interpret the loving verses narrowly- as only to their group, but only so long as they conform. And so forth...

This morning I read some Sufi things (the mystical side of Islam). Let's compare these sayings to some of what is going on in the world now, and perhaps put on our thinking caps as to how to get some of the angry to hear this side and take it to heart.

Ibn El-Arabi wrote:
My heart is capable of every form:
A cloister for the monk, a fan for idols,
A pasture for gazelles, the votary's Ka'ba [temple],
The tables of the Torah, the Quran.
Love is the creed I hold: wherever I turn
His camels, Love is still  my creed and faith.

Abdul-Matin wrote a book called "Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet." He began by sharing what his father taught him on camping trips, that he considers a basic tenet of Islam, The earth is a mosque, and everything in it is sacred.

According to Matthew Fox, Ibn El-Arabi, like all Sufis,... claimed that there was a coherent, continuous and perfectly acceptable progression between formal religion of any kind and the inner understanding of that religion, leading to a personal enlightenment.

Perhaps explore more Sufi philosophy, if you feel led: Avicenna (980-1037), Ghazali (1058-1111),  Ibn  El-Arabi  (1165-1240), Rumi (1207-1273), Hafiz(1320-1389),  Idries Shah (1924-1996) who was an historian of Sufism.

I suppose before we can hope for others to shift to the enlightenment side of their path, we must do so. Let us commit to practice the Presence of God today. My old touchstone - speak and act as if you stood before God in His Presence - for in fact you do.

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