All this talk about Islam and Muslims has awakened a hunger within me to know more. One of my favorites is a Sufi mystic, Rumi. Rumi lived in the 13th century and though they were thousand of miles apart he was a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi.
I searched for God among the Christians and on the Cross and therein I found Him not. I went into the ancient temples of idolatry; no trace of Him was there. I entered the mountain cave of Hira and then went as far as Qandhar but God I found not. With set purpose I fared to the summit of Mount Caucasus and found there only anqa’s habitation.
Then I directed my search to the Kaaba, the resort of old and young; God was not there even. Turning to philosophy I inquired about him from ibn Sina but found Him not within his range. I fared then to the scene of the Prophet’s experience of a great divine manifestation only a “two bow-lengths’ distance from him” but God was not there even in that exalted court.
Finally, I looked into my own heart and there I saw Him; He was nowhere else.–Rumi
I listened to a TED Talk about Bringing Compassion Back to Religion by Karen Armstrong. It’s very interesting, thought provoking and very appropriate for this week as we look to Easter.
Karen Armstrong talks about how the Abrahamic religions — Islam, Judaism, Christianity — have been diverted from the moral purpose they share: to foster compassion. People want to be religious, she says; we should act to help make religion a force for harmony. She asks the TED community to help her build a Charter for Compassion — to help restore the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) as the central global religious doctrine. To brainstorm on this wish and get involved, visit TEDPrize.org >> (Recorded February 2008 in Monterey, California. Duration: 21:27.)
In looking for another famous quote from Thomas Merton’s, Seven Storey Mountain, I happened upon a quote from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander which is just a powerful and insightful given the current political and cultural climate.
For myself, I am more and more convinced that my job is to clarify something of the tradition that lives in me, and in which I live: the tradition of wisdom and spirit that is found not only in Western Christendom but in Orthodoxy and also at least analogously in Asia and in Islam.” –Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Thomas Merton.
I have been reading and listening to the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra and I’m impressed at this analogue as Merton calls it. A contemplative heart and soul resides in all mystics regardless of their faith tradition. It is a point on which we could all agree.
Merton spoke of this when he referred to Thich Nhat Hanh as “my brother.”