Monday, May 25, 2015

Spiritual Journey: For non-Muslims and Muslims.

Until we truly understand "la ilaha," how can we understand "il Allah"?

Every single person born on this earth is a Divine Being. While Christianity teaches that all human beings are born flawed, Islam teaches that all human beings are born perfect, sinless.
All human beings have access to their Higher Self if they choose to seek it. Seeking refuge in your Higher Self does not mean that your Lower Self is not real. It just means that your selfish or satanic urges are less important to you. When you sprinkle a teaspoon of salt into your drink, it will take away the sweetness, but if you put a teaspoon of salt into your bath, it will not affect much. Imagine if you put a teaspoon of salt into the ocean, nobody would notice it at all! The best way to deal with evil in your personal life is to make it a very small part of your life.
Instead of worrying about our problems we have to get used to dealing with them and even planning ahead for them to arise.
"Those who are first on the battlefield and await the opponents are at ease; those who are the last on the battlefield and head into battle get worn out. Therefore good warriors cause others to come to them, and do not go to others," wrote Sun Tzu in "The Art of War," a Japanese classic from around 500 BC.
This could mean many things on different levels but those who are at peace with the concept that life is all about struggle are at ease, while those who delay are unlikely to attain any victory.
I open a page of the book by Lao Tzu named Tao Te Ching. "It is easy to maintain a situation while it is still secure."
Lao Tzu is said to be an older teacher of Confucius who was a Chinese philosopher also around 500 BC. Totally different country, same insight. We are most at ease when we are maintaining a situation or position, whether it's military, financial or emotional.
It's not that Asian knowledge is so unique or special but rather that it just makes sense when you think about it. Presumably, these sages were drawing upon centuries of past teachings.
The same thing when we read from the Quran. Although this book is only 1400 years old, it discusses stories and concepts that go back to the BC era. A very large portion of the Quran is dedicated to discussing the Laws of Moses and the Teachings of Christ. I think Moses was supposed to have lived about 2000 BC and Jesus around the year 0. The Buddha is also said to have reformed India from its paganism around 5 BC. The scriptural teachings of the Buddha and Jesus tend to overlap. The spiritual goal of selflessness seems to be the common path.
Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chishti writes in the book, "Sufi Healing," that "In its progression through life, the physical body passes through stages from infancy to youth, adulthood and old age. Similarly, the soul passes through specific evolutionary stages or stations."
These are described as the Station of Egotism, the Heart, the Pure Spirit, the Divine Secrets, the Proximity to Allah, and lastly, the Station of Union with the Beloved. There is some philosophical overlap between this and the 7 chakras, which are physical energy centers along the human spine. Knowledge of the chakras is essential for directing healing energy into specific realms. Direction of light into the crown chakra is said to be equivalent to spiritual enlightenment or God-consciousness.
Nowadays people are trying to find spiritual meaning beyond what their parents thought they should strive for. Even if they all agree that Paradise is the goal, their plan of action may differ.
"O chivalrous youth! If tomorrow you go to paradise and you look at it from the corner of your heart's eye, in truth, in truth, you will have fallen short of Adam's aspiration. Something that your father sold for a grain of wheat - why would you want to settle down there?" writes Said al-Din Farghani, a disciple of Ibn al Arabi's stepson, Sadr al-Din Qunawi, in the 13th century.
Therefore our entire idea of paradise could be suspect. We need to let go and experience something like spiritual exile and abandonment, until we find our true home. We can only do this by disbelieving all that we have ever been told. "La ilaha" means rejection of all false gods. It means repudiating this world and all its glittery offerings and falsehoods.
Until we truly understand "la ilaha," how can we understand "il Allah." The Asian concept of Taoism, for example yin-yang, gives us the language of balance and opposites. 'There is no god' is like the night. 'except Allah' is like the daylight. You need both for the 24 hour cycle to exist. It is just as important to doubt everything as it is to believe. Otherwise, your belief has no meaning.
Whether we are doing yoga or doing salat, the aim is spiritual Oneness. May we all be strengthened in our spiritual practices however small, so that we may see the Great.


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