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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Roses and Pomegranates

I recently spent ten days in Andalucia and was delighted to be back there again. The pomegranates were ripe and I feasted on the sweet juicy fruits. It was beautiful to be able to enjoy the vast night skies there  – so clear, and so many stars. In the garden at the house I stayed in the roses were still in bloom. It was a time of many gifts, some of them tough, but I found great joy in the way inspiration always arises so spontaneously in Andalucia. I wrote the following poem on the bus as I was leaving Granada.

Vessels at sea!

Pomegranate blood bursts

the dam of the heart,

pumps moonlight

and the dark of the moon

to feet that learn now-

Walk! Walk the path of love!

Her darkness is

the tranquillity of the moon,

hidden, she gazes

from the other side

Her light is

the reflection of the One

appearing, she dances

the kisses of lovers

A fleet wisp of a kiss

A smudged breath of a whisper

Rose petals everywhere, and stones

for a shamanic blessing in the round

Ya Wadud in all!

(Ya Wadud! is one of the Names of God and means the Loving One)

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Justice and Well-Being Kiss Each Other

I was just speaking to a friend on SU about the film Bab’Aziz and said how I feel the mystic tradition of all religions comes very close to the core reality of being. For me it is the Sufi path but I also find inspiration from the Kabbalah and Mahayyana Buddhism. Finally we are all one, diverse expressions of the One Being. I’m doing research at the moment on the connections between Sufi and Jewish mystics and the rising popularity of Sufism in Israel. I’ll be going there for a field study next year as I want to see to what extent Sufi practices transform the individuals perception of self and other to a more unified, reflective perspective and whether this can contribute to justice and peace. It is really very simple, we are all interconnected and therefore the well being of ourselves in every respect is directly connected to the well being of all those around us and the whole planet. We have to stop giving our egos the primary place in our lives and begin living from the heart, that space of the inner being where the One resides and speaks to us if we listen. The image here is of justice and peace kissing each other. in Psalm 85:11 (Tanakh translation) it says, “Faithfulness and truth meet; justice and well-being kiss”. Jean Paul Lederach uses this verse in his work on reconciliation. I like the image of justice and well-being (peace) kissing. Justice is necessary when people are suffering from the injustices done them but when well-being is an intimate associate of justice then she is accompanied by compassion and seeks a path that leads away from revenge and fear and pursues the well-being of all.

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Unveiling the Garden of Love

Two well loved stories of love from the Sufi and the Hindu traditions where both serve as metaphors for the love of the Beloved
clipped from astore.amazon.com

Unveiling the Garden of Love: Mystical Symbolism in Layla Majnun & Gita Govinda (Perennial Philosophy)Discover the common ground shared between Islamic Sufism and Hindu Bhaktism through their literary expressions. This book examines two classic love poems-The Story of Layla Majnun (written by Nezami in the Sufi tradition) and Gita Govinda (written by Jayadeva in the Hindu tradition)-and finds common experiences of love shared between these seemingly disparate cultures.
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