A JOURNAL OF TRANS-ETHNIC SPIRITUALITY
VOL. 2, ISSUE 1
Welcome to the second issue of Heart of the Message. Realizing that most of us are so busy that we all seem to have little time left over to devote to our spiritual lives, I would like to offer you a number of activities that you can incorporate into you daily life that will bring additional richness to life.
It is often too easy for us to think in terms of the week ahead and to loose sight of the year or the lifetime still before us and not realize that, with a little foreplanning, we can accomplish great strides forward with only a little effort so long as we apply that little effort day in and day out. I call this the “Drop in the Bucket Method” of accomplishment. This idea is based on the image of a faucet which is always dripping just a little bit as are the days of our lives. But if you put a bucket under the faucet which is your long range commitment to accomplish some goal, then day by day the bucket begins to fill up and eventually is full thus, your goal accomplished.
Someone once offered me some good advice when I was trying to decide if I wanted to spend all of the time that it would take to finish college. This person said to me; “Three years from now it will be three years from now if you spend the time finishing school you will have accomplished you goal. If you don’t go to school, the three years will pass anyway and graduation will still be three years away.”
Our goals for our spiritual life are the same way.The time will pass and if we put our small effort day by day, though we hardly can see any progress, eventually our buckets will be full and overflowing. Since all of our lives are multi-facetted, we can “set up buckets” for many different goals. For instance, we can, while engaged with others such as our families, friends or co-workers, look for opportunities to work on our characters and personalities, developing qualities or diminishing faults such as developing patience or understanding or friendliness or respect with the idea of trying to understand these in great depth. There is often only a few minutes a day when any of these can truly be developed for instance, patience can only be worked on when you have become impatient. However, if you have made a personal commitment to develop more patience then you will approach these situations as an opportunity rather than an annoyance thus, fill your bucket a little bit more each day.
Your may wish to become more knowledgeable about the scriptures of the world. Get a copy of the Bagavat-Gita and study for ten minutes in the morning before work and another ten before sleeping. Then in a month or two you will be finished! Then, methodically going from beginning to end, work your way through each sacred scripture, reading one chapter a day. If you read in the morning, you can look for opportunities to relate the wisdom of the scripture to events in your daily life or, if you only have time in the evening, try to reflect back on the day in the light of the scripture you happen to be reading. In this way you will incorporate the scriptures on a deeper level than merely reading and then soon forgetting them.
I suggest you read: the Bagavat Gita, The Vedas, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a book called “A Buddhist Bible” which is a great collection of fundamental Buddhist scriptures, The Zenda Vesta of Zarathushtra and the Gathas, The Tao Te Ching, the Old Testament, The New Testament, The Koran or Quran, The Popal Vu of the Mayas. These books, many of which might be found under the heading of Eastern Religions or Eastern Philosophy form a good basis of study.
If you have a little extra time on the weekends you can go down to your public library and check out related books on the history, art or culture related to the scriptures that you are studying at any given time which can greatly enhance your understanding of the context surrounding these scriptures. It will take a few years but before long you will have an excellent foundation in the religious thought of the world which can only enrich you spiritual understanding and confidence.
Another thing that you can do is budget in a retreat once a year that will help to reenergize and refocus your life’s plan. Save a little money each month and take time to plan the what, where and when over the course of the year. This helps prepare you for a deep and rewarding experience.
There are many other “programs” that you can set up for yourself that after a number of years of small daily efforts, you will, no doubt, be pleasantly surprised to look up and notice what you have accomplished. The secret to spiritual accomplishments is to think in terms of life long pursuits rather than short term interests and to even go further and think far out beyond this present life into the life to come. Plan on your life beyond life. It will be here sooner than you think!
Religious Gatheka #1 of Hazrat Inayat Khan
The Religion of the Heart
If anybody asks you, "What is Sufism? What religion is it?", you may answer, "Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which the most important thing is to seek God in the heart of mankind."
There are three ways of seeking God in the human heart. The first way is to recognize God the divine in every person and to care for every person with whom we come in contact, in our thought, speech, and action. Human personality is very delicate. The more living the heart the more sensitive it is; that which causes sensitivity is the love element in the heart, and love is God.
The person whose heart is not sensitive is without feeling; his heart is not living, but dead. In that case the divine spirit is buried in his heart. A person who is always concerned with his own feelings is so absorbed in himself that he has no time to think of another. His whole attention is taken up with his own feelings: he pities himself, worries about his own pain, and is never open to sympathize with others. He who takes notice of the feeling of another person with whom he comes in contact practices the first essential moral of Sufism.
The next way of practicing this religion is to think of the feeling of the person who is not at the moment before us. One feels for a person who is present, but one often neglects to feel for someone who is out of sight. One speaks well of someone to his face, but if one speaks well of someone when he is absent, that is greater. One sympathizes with the trouble of someone who is before one at the moment, but it is greater to sympathize with one who is far away.
The third way of realizing the Sufi principle is to recognize in one's own feeling the feeling of God and to realize every impulse that rises in one's heart as a direction from God. Realizing that love is a divine spark in one's heart, one blows that spark until a flame may rise to illuminate the path of one's life.
The symbol of the Sufi Order, which is a heart with wings, is symbolic of its ideal. The heart is both earthly and heavenly. The heart is a receptacle on earth of the divine spirit, and when it holds the divine spirit it soars heavenward; the wings picture its rising. The crescent in the heart symbolizes responsiveness; it is the heart that responds to the spirit of God that rises. The crescent is a symbol of responsiveness because it grows fuller by responding more and more to the sun as it progresses. The light one sees in the crescent is the light of the sun. It gets more light with increasing response, so it becomes fuller of the light of the sun. The star in the heart of the crescent represents the divine spark reflected in the human heart as love, which helps the crescent toward its fullness.
The Sufi Message is the message of the day. It does not bring theories or doctrines to add to those already existing, which puzzle the human mind. What the world needs today is the message of love, harmony, and beauty, the absence of which is the only tragedy of life. The Sufi Message does not give a new law. It wakens in humanity the spirit of brotherhood, with tolerance on the part of each for the religion of the other, and with forgiveness from each for the fault of the other. It teaches thoughtfulness and consideration, so as to create and maintain harmony in life; it teaches service and usefulness, which alone can make life in the world fruitful and in which lies the satisfaction of every soul.
Religious Gatheka #2
The Belief in God
It is the spirit of all souls which is personified in all ages as God. There are periods when this spirit is materialized in the faith of humanity and worshipped as God, the Sovereign and the Lord of both the worlds, as Judge, Sustainer, and Forgiver; but there are periods when this realization has been less in humanity, when mankind has been absorbed in the life of the world more than in the spiritual ideal. The belief in God comes to humanity like tides in the sea. Every now and then it appears on the surface, usually with a divine message given as an answer to the cry of humanity at a certain period.
So in the lives of individuals at times the belief in God comes as tides, with an impulse to worship, to serve God, to search for God, to love God, and to long for God-communication. The more the material life of the world is before one's eyes, the more the spiritual impulse is closed. The spiritual impulse therefore follows times of sorrow and of disappointment through life.
The belief in God is natural, but in life both art and nature are necessary. So God, who exists independent of our making Him, must be made by us for our own comprehension. To make God intelligible man must first make his God. It is on this principle that the idea of many gods and the custom of idol worship were based in the ancient religions of the world. God cannot be two. The God of each is the God of all, but in order to comprehend that God we each have to make our own God. Some of us seek justice; we can seek for God who is just. Some of us look for beauty; we must find it in the God of beauty. Some of us seek for love; we must find it in the God of mercy and compassion. Some of us wish for strength and power; we must find it in the God almighty. The seeking of every soul in this world is different, distinct, and peculiar to himself, and he can best attain to it by finding the object of his search in God.
The moment one arrives at this belief, one need ask no question of his fellow man, for the answer to every question that springs from his mind he finds in his own heart. The dwelling place of God, which is called heaven, is then found in his own heart. The friend on whom one can constantly depend, someone whom one can always trust, someone whose sympathy and love are secure, someone who will never fail, someone who is strong enough to help, someone who is sufficiently wise to guide one in life, the believer will find in his own heart.
Those who because of their materialistic view cannot believe in the God ideal lose a great deal in their lives. That ideal which is the highest and best ideal, the only ideal worth loving, worth worshiping, worth longing for, worth and through the darkness of night, is God. He who has God in his life has all he needs; he who has not God, though he may have all things of this mortal world, is lonely. He is in the wilderness even if he be in the midst of the crowd. The journey of the Sufi, therefore, is to God. It is divine knowledge which he seeks; it is the realization of God-consciousness which is his goal.
Trans-Ethnicism and the Universal Worship
some thoughts by Rev.Hamid Cecil Touchon
The teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan bring the Message to humanity of the trans-ethnic human. To be ethnic in the broadest sense of the term, is to identify yourself with or conform to groups. We all belong or identify with many different groups which may be a racial group, cultural group, religious group, political group, etc. To be trans.-ethnic is to rise above group identity toward universal identity.
The Universal Worship is a symbolic example of this ideal. Where the Mass of the Catholic Faith is a symbolic ritual of union with Christ, The Universal Worship is the symbolic ritual of The Divine Beloved embracing humanity in all its diversity as well as humanity embracing The Divine Beloved in all its unity.
The Universal Worship teaches that there is only one Divine Reality and that all the world’s spiritual expressions from all times and parts of the world are as so many love letters from the Divine Being to humanity. The more we come to know and love the Divine Being, the more interested we become to read and cherish all of these communications that we can find. In so doing we begin to make our trek toward becoming a universal human being which means that we are rising above the limited views of ethnic group, cultural conditioning, religious taboo or national identity and growing into the awareness of those qualities that are common to all human beings.
If the Universal Worship could be said to be representing a religion of some sort, it is the religion of the heart (see page two). The heart is inside thus the same color in all peoples. The heart is considered the center of a person thus it is the religion of the essence of truth, The heart is called the Temple of God thus it is the religion of the living God who dwells in each and all of us. It is with the heart that we feel thus it is the religion of Love and sacrifice.
All too often however, the heart is paralyzed by fear or injured by hatreds and resentments, or frozen by apathy and depression or obscured by prejudice or walled up by selfishness. All of these ills are the sources of racial strife, an unwillingness to associate with each other, or a blindness to the suffering of those around us. The message of the Universal Worship is Inclusiveness. We are asked to open our arms and our hearts wide to all of humanity not just in principle but in practice. This includes those whose hearts may not be open to us. It is easy to have an open heart to those we know and love. What of those we avoid or ignore? If we are to truly practice inclusivity this means that we are looking for opportunities to meet someone new; that we widen our embrace to those we had not previously considered. We are often afraid to strike up relationships with people of another color or cultural background. We normally blame this tendency on prejudice but if we look more closely we will see that most of us are afraid to strike up a new friendship or that we are unable to easily find a common ground between our selves and others. We may be afraid of what others think of us or that we may be rejected.
There is no question that in order to practice inclusivity in our relationships with those who live in our communities we need courage and fearlessness. We can only develop these qualities through examining our fears which hold us back from associating with others and looking for or creating opportunities to challenge and overcome these fears all of which are fears of our ego. Keep in mind that the people you meet will probably be afraid of getting to know you or to reveal themselves which we have to do in order to build a common ground of intimacy and acceptance between ourselves. The secret of this is to look for the Divine Beloved in these relationships. This is the common ground of all beings.
If we examine our life for a moment and find that we only have contact with people who are the same color as we are or the same age or have the same beliefs as we do or are interested in the same things as we are then perhaps we have become too comfortable and made our circle too small.
Look for opportunities to add more people and more diversity of people to your life and this will help provide a context for overcoming the fear and discomfort that is often the cause of keeping us all from accepting, understanding and enjoying each other. Keep an eye out for new places and neighborhoods where your local Cherag can perform the Universal Worship to a wider, more diverse audience and offer the suggestion. You’ll be doing yourself and your community a favor!
If we take these suggestions to heart and put them into practice we
will be on our way to becoming a trans-ethnic human being. If we can break
these barriers between ourselves and others we will become a living example
of what the Universal Worship is all about.
Please visit the Gallery at Cecil Touchon Contemporary Art who supplies the space for this page.
produced by Post-Dogmatist Publications copyright 1997