Humanism and Religion

I found this interesting reflection on the website of Matthew Bain “The Politics of Soul”. It emphasizes the importance of the psychology of the self in faith practice. The most important points that Matthew makes are the, “three principal loci of revelation: the natural world (‘horizons’), the psyches of individuals (‘within themselves’) and the Qur’an” and the poem by Rumi which compares, “the human psyche to a guest house and suggesting that we (the hosts) treat all our guests (cognitive, emotional & spiritual states) with kindness and respect”.

Politics of Soul

It is possible to be both religious and a humanist. For me, humanism means attributing weight and importance to the individual human experience. Historically, some religious practioners have neglected the individual experience of themselves and others, preferring to prioritise the literal religious doctrine in all circumstances. However there is not necessarily a contradiction between religion and humanism.

An example of a non-humanistic approach to Buddhism would be to treat all individuals like pebbles on a beach and, rather than consider their own individual circumstances, encourage them simply to adhere to Buddhist doctrine in the expectation that it will resolve their problems. On the other hand, a humanistic approach would encourage the practice of meditation as a form of compassionate, internal listening, a pre-requisite for the sensitive integration of Buddhist teaching in your life.

In Islam, the Qur’an contains the verse “We will show them Our signs on the horizons and within…

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Rumi’s Sermon

Irving, author of the blog, Darvish, has posted a translation of one of Jalaluddin Rumi’s last sermons. Irving notes that,

“We do not know if it dates from before or after his meeting with Shams al-Din of Tabriz. Rumi delivered the opening benediction and the Hadith in Arabic, the liturgical language, then switched to Persian. Only seven sermons are so far known to exist in manuscript form.”

To read the full sermon go over to Irving’s blog at Darvish by just clicking here.

Please note that Irving has also written a powerful Sufi novel, Master of the Jinn. You can find details about this novel on the blog.

Found in Translation: How a Thirteenth Century Islamic Poet Conquered America By Ryan Croken

A very thoughtful assessment of Coleman Barks translations of the poetry of Rumi put in the context of the climate in the USA of propaganda and militarism against Muslim countries. (Which will hopefully change with Obama). Click the link below to read the full article.
clipped from www.religiondispatches.org

The best-selling poet in America today could never have known that someday there would be such a thing as America. Born over eight centuries ago in what is now Afghanistan, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, a Sufi mystic, has traversed some rather astonishing cultural and temporal boundaries to become one of the most improbable leaders in American letters. A study of Rumi’s success, however, would not be complete without exploring the relationship between the poet and his most popular translator, Coleman Barks.

Poetically, this is significant. But politically, it is momentous. Although something may have been lost in his “translations,” something more priceless has been found: in this American Rumi we have acquired a dazzlingly cogent ambassador of a slandered religion and a most unlikely cultural bridge that could not have come at a better time.
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