A JOURNAL OF TRANS-ETHNIC SPIRITUALITY
VOL. 1, ISSUE 3
In most of the spiritual traditions of the world the heart is considered the location where heaven and earth meet within the human being. This, of course, is not the physical heart but rather the ‘heart center’ within the chest. This center is where we experience love, emotions, and intuition. It is called the Temple wherein the Living God dwells within each of us.
We could say that February is the month of the heart which is the month of Valintine’s Day but also the Urs of Hazrat Inayat Khan which is the celebration of the passing of the founder of the Church of All on Feb. 5 (1927). Inayat Khan called the religion practiced at the alter of the Universal Worship the ‘Religion of the Heart’ because, within the framework of the church is the realization that the Divine Being dwells in the hearts of all and that the culminating goal of one’s spiritual life is to encounter the Divine Being, who is the Beloved and Teacher of all, within the Temple of the Heart. This is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
When we explore how the term heart is used in common language we find that the heart means the central or inner most part of something such as the ‘heart of the city’, it also means the essential or vital part of something such as ‘what is the heart of the matter?’. A person with a ‘lot of heart’ is someone with determination, to ‘lose heart’ means to be discouraged so we see that the will of a person eminates from one’s heart. We refer to the heart when we talk about generosity or sincerity as well as consideration, understanding and helpfulness as when we say, ‘He has a big heart.’ or ‘She is a dear heart.’ When a person is cruel or mean or when someone shows no regard for others we say, ‘His heart is closed or small or cold or that he has no heart at all.’ So all of this shows that the heart represents the essecial nature of a person and thus the development of the heart, the unfoldment of the heart and the illumination of the heart are of the utmost importance on the path of the spirit.
If one spent his whole life doing nothing other than opening his heart and developing the qualities of the heart , it is no exageration to say that this effort alone would bring him to the spiritual goal of human life. For it is through the heart that one finds God and with the heart that one finds one’s way to the gates of the Divine Abode. It is the heart which can teach one the Divine Justice which is mercy and forgiveness; where one feels the peace that passes understanding. It is through the heart that we can find the way to treat our brothers and sisters which includes everyone.
To root out fear and hatred and anger from our hearts is the first step as it says in the Dhammapada of the Buddha. This is the step that will bring us away from the gates of hell so to speak. The next step is to gradually root out deception of self and others, ignorance and selfishness through honestly, broad mindedness and charity. The next step is to develop and expand our hearts with the qualities of the heart such as forgiveness, courage, empathy, kindness, humility, dignity, etc. The step after this is to dedicate our selves to serving our communities and each other as best as we are able with equinimity. The step after this is to learn to turn our attention inwardly into our hearts and to selflessly seek out, through meditation, retreat, and prayer, the Divine Being who dwells within our heart of hearts; that Being which is the source of our life, ‘in Whom we live, and move and have our being.’ as it says in the New Testament.
Once we have discovered this deeper Reality of the Divine, the next step is to see the Dinive in all those with whom we come in contact until the whole of our life is spent in an awareness and recognition of the Divine Harmony behind the appearences of life. This leads us to the final goal which is to so faithfully serve the Divine Purpose that, our hearts, like an empty cup, are forever filled with the Divine Presence which is then dispenced through us into the world as grace, compassion, wisdom, and benevolence. This is called the Divine Manor; to, as the Tao te Ching says, ‘...be as kind as a grandmother; as dignified as a king.’ The heart is the secret garden in which Love, Harmony and Beauty grow within us and overflow as a living river into the world. This is our life’s purpose.
Come to join us as we explore the nature of the heart over the next few months. Regardless of what religion or spiritual tradition you practice or even if you follow no religion at all, you will surely find something in these services which will be of value in your path through life.
Religious Gatheka #34 The Universal Worship (1)
What is this Universal Worship? Although in its infancy, it is the religion of the day and the faith of tomorrow. But what religion is it? It is the same religion of which Jesus Christ said, "I have not come to give a new law, I have come to give the old law." What is this new message? It is the same old message that has ever been. Are the workers of this message priests? No, they are the soldiers of the army of peace, the army which is working to bring about peace in the diverse religions of this world, which have disputed, argued, and kept themselves away from one another, looking upon one another's religions as wrong. Then what is our idea in this service? In this service we learn something. We learn that wisdom, wherever and at whatever time it came to the world, was one and the same truth, the truth which is the only religion; it is truth which will save. Is it not, then, the religion of Christ, without limiting the master to a certain period only and to a certain book only? To the thoughtful person it is the message of Christ. But is it not also the message of Buddha, is it not of Muhammad and Moses, of Abraham and Solomon? Have they come with many truths, or have they come with one truth? If they came with many truths, there must be many gods, and if there are many gods and many truths, then if we cannot understand one another's language we cannot understand one another's heart. But it is not so; we can understand one another's heart, even if we cannot understand one another's language. What does it teach us? It teaches us that in this world of variety of names and forms, where we see each other separated and divided, individually and collectively, by being different nations and religions, in that spirit we are one and the same, and in that spirit we can unite. Can that be religion, which in one moment can separate the children of God from one another in the name of faith and in the name of religion? Where lies true happiness? In the understanding of one another, in our unity with one another, and in our harmony with one another. Imagine the troubles that humanity has gone through the past few years; (World War I) do these troubles seem to end? Not at all. If the troubles seem to end in one form, then in some other form they arise. It seems like a blood poisoning, wherein if one wound is healed it takes its outlet at some other place. How can the world be purified and rise above this difficulty? Not by political and financial activities. No, religion is the healing of the world of humanity. Which religion? Not this religion or that religion, but the religion, the only religion, the religion which is the religion of Hindu, of Muslim, of Christian, of Jew, and of everyone. For we all, whatever be our caste, creed, race, nation or religion, can only unite in one--and that is that one God--and in truth, and our only happiness is in this unity which unites us in God and in truth.
What is religion? Religion is a lesson which teaches the manner of living right and reaching the object for which we are born. This religion has come time after time to the world, through those who have brought the message of God. Those who came with this message of religion have given it in diverse forms, in accordance with the evolution of the people at that particular time, but the religion was one and the same. There never has been any other religion than one, for God is one, truth is one, and so religion is one. If there is any difference, it is a difference of form, not of the soul. It is the same water, pure water, perhaps filled in several pitchers. One pitcher is made in India, the other in China, the other in Arabia, perhaps the other in the western world. It is like a stream which comes through the fountain and falls in various streams, but it is one and the same stream. The real understanding of religion is not in disputing over the diversity of the forms, saying, "Your religion is worse and my religion is better." The true religion is in recognizing that one life in all. There are different candles on the altar, each candle named for a different teacher and religion, but it is one and the same light. What then does this service teach us? This service teaches us one light and different lamps. It is not the lamps that are to be taken first into the mind. No, it is the one light that should be taken to heart. It is this religion of unification which Jesus Christ came to teach. The teaching of Moses and the efforts of Muhammad were all towards this one object. All that Buddha taught and all that Krishna said sums up in one thing, one light that is the divine light. The guidance that comes from that light becomes the path for humanity to tread upon. The Sufi movement, though in its infancy, is destined to serve God and humanity in this direction. The Sufi message is the re-echo of the same divine message which has always come and will always enlighten humanity.
Just a thought
From what I have been hearing around town, some people here are up at arms about all of these ‘New Agers’ swamping the town and at about the same time a large Buddhist retreat facility moved here from New York called Tara Mandala (Buddhism is about 2,500 years old) along with putting in a bookstore downtown. I have heard that the bookstore has received some threats by phone of someone planning to burn down the building or some such nonsense. The owner of a ‘New Age’ bookstore in Durango told me that a large group of people from a local Christian church came into the store and started praying for its demise. Hum...
While I was in the office the other day, a woman asked me if I wasn’t afraid, with all of these things going on, to be so public with the Universal Worship. The only thing that came to mind really was the scripture from the Upanishads that goes, ‘Seeing all creatures in yourself and yourself in all creatures what is there to fear?’ So I said no, I am not afraid why should I be?
But she was. In fact a lot of people here just seem to be afraid of each other from a distance but not up close. I guess you could call it conceptual fear. Maybe everybody is watching too much T.V. or something. Yet it is one of the friendliest places I have ever been to. Everyone waves at each other and talks to each other even if they don’t know one another and you can rarely get out of the grocery store without one or often several conversations with people. If you are stuck on the side of the road there is no end to the numbers of people who will pull over and see if you need help.
It seems to me like a lot of this fear is internal or is stirred up in small groups around gossip. So I guess a lot of my work here will be showing how to overcome fear, how to not cause others to be in fear and how to co-exist, and even respect each other which is what everybody wants to do anyway. But I can see that many are afraid of somebody trying to change or threaten their beliefs and most seem afraid that the world is about to end.
So everyone has this ‘End Times’ mentality whether ‘Old Age’ or ‘New Age’ which serves as the backdrop to everybody’s spiritual beliefs. I admit, I use to worry about this too. But to me it became apparent that it is an act of arrogance to think you know, or should even think about, when the world will end or if it will or how it will or if we will even notice it when it does. It is not our job as individuals.
So I came up with a saying for myself in case I ever worry about it again; “For the wise person, everyday is his last day; every morning, the beginning of a new world. He lives as though today is the last day of the world. He plans for the future as if the world will last forever. He knows his life is not his own. Living in this manor, he regrets nothing.” This cured me of even thinking about the end of the world much less fearing it.
As I see it, it is not our business to worry about it and it is just a way for people to avoid the nitty-gritty work of everyday life. Instead of worrying about the end of the world it seems more intelligent to consider your deathbed with you on it taking your last few breaths. What will I have wished I had done with my life from that vantage point? What will have been important? What will there have been to fear? What will I regret? That is what I ask myself. This is the end of the world that we know will come to each of us. This is certain and ‘to Allah is the returning’ as it says in the Qur'an. As far as the end of the world goes, its God’s business when He/She/It wants to fold up His/Hers/Its Tents and call it a Day; not ours. Hum... I see a good sermon in there.
I remember reading somewhere that everybody in Europe was sure that the world was going to end around the year 1000. There was a hushed anticipation across Europe as the time approached and as it passed. So, between around the years 900 to 1200, all of the churches in Europe were neglected and fell into decay because nobody saw any reason to do costly repairs to the churches if the world was going to end anyway. Why bother? After 1200 people started thinking maybe the world wasn’t going to end any time soon and pretty soon there was the Renaissance. But ever since, there are those who are sure that their generation is the last and this has been a strong period of such fears for the last century.
Will the world end around the year 2000? Who cares? It is better for
us I would think if we get on with our lives and live them to the best
of our abilities and not waste our efforts in fearing or hating anybody
and trying to get them to fear us. What a waste of time! Live courageously
and generously and let God sort out the rest of it. There are much better
things to do with our selves like figure out a good way to protect and
make a better future for our grandchildren. I am sure they would appreciate
it. And just think, in the event that there does happen to be reincarnation,
it is us who will be our grandchildren’s children. So if you don’t care
about anybody else, consider that it might be you yourself that your preparing
the future for!
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