Eternity is Now

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Delighting in one of the wonderful comparisons of which he was so fond, Corbin recounts a conversation with D. T. Suzuki in Ascona in 1954: “…we asked him what homologies in structure he found between Mahayana Buddhism and the cosmology of Swedenborg in respect of the symbolism and correspondences of worlds: I can still see Suzuki suddenly brandishing a spoon and saying with a smile ‘This spoon now exists in Paradise… We are now in Heaven,’ he explained. This was an authentically Zen way of answering the question; Ibn ‘Arabi would have relished it. ”

– Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi, 354

Boddhisatvas in the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves in Turfan, on the Silk Road, Xinjiang, western China.
I found this over at Tom Cheetham’s blog and am delighted with, ‘This spoon now exists in Paradise… We are now in Heaven’ because I have often thought that eternity can have no beginning or end by definition. Therefore, even if this planet is in some way time-bound, it can be no more than a veil, and perhaps a necessary one for our lives here, but nevertheless eternity is now and not at some future time. It also reminds me of something I read recently while studying Mahayana Buddhism for a field study. This sounds very Sufi to me, “Until you reach the path you wander in the world with the precious form of the sugata completely wrapped as in a bundle of rags” and also, “Here it is. You have this precious tathagata wrapped in rags. Unwrap it, quickly!” (1). If we understand ‘sugata’ and ‘tathagata’, as Buddhists do, as Ultimate Reality, the Real, then in Sufi Muslim terms this is Al-Haqq. Under the veils (rags) that appear to separate us from Allah (swt) is our primordial nature, our fitrah, that is a manifestation of the Attributes of Allah. may we all have clean hearts that are clear mirrors reflecting the One.

(1) The Arya-tathagatagarbha-sutra in The door of Liberation translated by Geshe Wangyal, p.205

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Sailing to Gaza

These boats are sailing through international waters along the coast of Gaza to help the Palestinians. What they are doing is completely legal but their safety is being jeopardized by Israeli sabotage. Please read the full story at the website.
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A Statement from the International Human Rights Workers Aboard the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, Sailing to Gaza
“The electronic systems which guarantee our safety aboard the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty have been jammed and scrambled. Both ships are flying Greek flags, and are in international waters. We are the victims of electronic piracy. We are currently in GMS P area A2 and we are relying on our satellite communications equipment to make a distress call, if needed.
We are civilians from 17 nations and are on this project to break the siege of Gaza. We are not experienced sailors. As a result, there is concern about the health and safety of the people on board such an emergency develop.
We are currently experiencing rough sea conditions, and we call on the Greek government and the international community to meet their responsibilities and protect the civilians on board our two ships in international waters.”
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Compassionate Listening

I have just added a new blog to my blogroll. It is Listening to the Tune in Dialogue by my friend Lisa Saffron. Lisa has been running dialogue sessions using the skills of compassionate listening for some time now and having attended a couple of her Jewish-Muslim sessions I can testify to how powerful these sessions can be. Compassionate communication is as much about listening to oneself as it is about listening to others and about being heard without judgement.

Lisa has also written a novel called Checkpoint which is about the meeting of a Palestinian and an Israeli family in tragic circumstances and how this experience changes lives.

Go across to Lisa’s blog and take a look.

A Sufi Novel by Irving Karchmar

This novel is written by Irving Karchmar who many of you may already know from his blog, Darvish. Exciting, informative, and uplifting, this is the kind of literature we need more of for everyone interested in the spiritual path. Irving also has a page about his novel here
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A Sufi Novel
Here is a tale set on the Path of the Heart, a beautifully written mystical adventure wherein a modern-day Sufi Master sends seven companions on a perilous quest for the greatest treasure of the ancient world- King Solomon’s ring. The legendary seal ring is said to control the Jinn, those terrifying demons of living fire, and in seeking it the companions discover not only the truth of the Jinn, but also the path of Love and the infinite mercy of God.
About the Author

Irving Karchmar, the author of Master of the Jinn, has been a writer, editor and publisher for many years, and a darvish of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order since 1992. He resides near New York City and is currently at work on his second novel, a sequel entitled Tale of the Jinn.

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Amazing Diversity

It is August and many people are on holiday. Everything is quieter than usual; even the internet seems less busy. I feel the need for a holiday too. I miss Andalucia and it’s nearly a year since I was last there. I can’t go anywhere at present though because I am working hard to finish my MA by September. I have a dissertation to write which also involves field study. I am working on the role of memory in interfaith dialogue and looking specifically at Jews and Muslims ‘remembering’ the times they lived and worked together in Al-Andalus. So Andalucia (present day Al-Andalus) is never far from my thoughts. This topic will be expanded when I begin my doctoral research in September.

I was speaking to a Spanish friend on the phone last night and she said I wouldn’t want to go over there right now even if I had the time and money because it is so hot. Climate change is making itself noticeable in the Alpujarra Mountains as well. Summers have become shorter and hotter. In Al-Andalus of medieval times there was a tendency to build houses relatively high and to keep the streets quite narrow. This provided shade and a measure of relief from the heat in summer. They also used water in numerous water channels and fountains. The Court of Lions in the Alhambra in Granada is a wonderful example of this. On a hot day I find even the sound of trickling, bubbling, splashing water immensely refreshing. Well, to come back to where I am now, sitting at my laptop in Bristol, the sky grey, the air chilly, quite unusual for August, it certainly makes it easier to work on my dissertation. So, Alhamdulillah for all kinds of weather, rain and sun, wind and dust. What a beautiful planet this is in all its natural diversity!