Our aim is to be in dialogue with our neighbors and with the texts that have influenced their lives. In so doing the texts are lifted up as if they are poems that we can freely interpret and respond to as we wish. We use texts from The World's Wisdom by Philip Novak.
Our format is for one of us - Sophia or Jay - to read the texts aloud and share a response, after which the group as a whole responds to the reader's response or to the text. We treat the texts respectfully, but also recognize that they can be interrogated and that the meaning of a text will differ from person to person. There is no need to agree with a text or to agree on what it means. Think of the text is a dialogue partner. Our aim is to be in dialogue with the text so that we can be in dialogue with one another and better serve the world.
Sayings from Indigenous Paths
This Beautiful Land (Chief Seathl of the Dwamish, North America)
Your God seems to us to be partial. He came to the white man. We never saw Him; never even heard His voice; He gave the white man laws but He had no word for his red children whose teeming millions filled this vast continent as the stars fill the firmament. No, we are two distinct races…. There is little in common between us. The ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their final resting place is hallowed ground, while you wander away from the tombs of your fathers, seemingly without regret. Your religion was written on tables of stone by the iron finger of an angry God, lest you might forget it. The red man could never remember nor comprehend it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors, the dreams of our old men, given them by the Great Spirit, and the visions of our sachems [chiefs], and is written in the hearts of our people. Your dead cease to love you and the homes of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb. They wander far off beyond the stars, are soon forgotten, and never return. Our dead never forget the beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its winding rivers, its great mountains and its sequestered vales…. Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some fond memory or some sad experience of my tribe. Even the rocks that seem to lie dumb as they swelter in the sun along the silent seashore in solemn grandeur thrill with memories of past events connected with the fate of my people, and the very dust under your feet responds more lovingly to our footsteps than to yours, because it is the ashes of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch, for the soil is rich with the life of our kindred….And when the last red man shall have perished from the earth and his memory among white men shall have become a myth, these shores shall swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children shall think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the woods, they will not be alone…. At night when the streets of your cities and villages shall be silent, and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled and still love this beautiful land.
The Earth is Beautiful (Navaho, North America)
The Earth is beautiful The Earth is beautiful The Earth is beautiful Below the East, the Earth, its face toward the East, the top of its head is beautiful The soles of its feet, they are beautiful Its legs, they are beautiful Its body, it is beautiful Its chest, it is beautiful Its breath, it is beautiful Its head-feather, it is beautiful The Earth is beautiful.
Its Life Am I (Navaho, North America)
Hozhoni, hozhoni, hozhoni Hozhoni, hozhoni, hozhoni The Earth, its life am I, hozhoni, hozhoni.The Earth, its feet are my feet, hozhoni, hozhoni The Earth, its legs are my legs, hozhoni, hozhoni The Earth, its body is my body, hozhoni, hozhoni The Earth, its thoughts are my thoughts, hozhoni, hozhoni The Earth, its speech is my speech, hozhoni, hozhoni …The sky, its life am I, hozhoni, hozhoni— The mountains, its life am I— …The Sun, its life am I— …White corn, its life am I— Yellow corn, its life am I— The corn beetle, its life am I— Hozhoni, hozhoni, hozhoni Hozhoni, hozhoni, hozhoni
The Web of Wakan (Oglala Sioux, North America)
Every object in the world has a spirit and that spirit is wakan. Thus the spirits of the tree or things of that kind, while not like the spirit of man, are also wakan. Wakan comes from the wakan beings. These wakan beings are greater than mankind in the same way that mankind is greater than the animals. They are never born and never die. They can do many things that mankind cannot do. Mankind can pray to the wakan beings for help. There are many of these beings but all are of four kinds. The word Wakan Tanka means all of the wakan beings because they are all as if one. Wakan Tanka Kin signifies the chief or leading Wakan being which is the Sun. However, the most powerful of the Wakan beings is Nagi Tanka, the Great Spirit, who is also Taku Skanskan. Taku Skanskan signifies the Blue, in other words, the Sky.
With Tenderness They Have Come Up (Sioux, North America)
Grandfather Great Spirit All over the world the faces of living ones are alike With tenderness they have come up out of the ground. …Give us the strength to understand, and the eyes to see. Teach us to walk the soft Earth,
Earth Teach Me to Remember (Ute, North America) Earth teach me stillness as the grasses are stilled with light. Earth teach me suffering as old stones suffer with memory. Earth teach me humility as blossoms are humble with beginning. Earth teach me caring as the mother who secures her young. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me limitation as the ant which crawls on the ground. Earth teach me freedom as the eagle which soars in the sky. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring. Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me to remember kindness as dry fields weep with rain.
The Universal Mother (Kagaba, South America)
The mother of our songs, the mother of all our seed, bore us in the beginning of things and so she is the mother of all types of men, the mother of all nations. She is the mother of the thunder, the mother of the streams, the mother of the trees and all things. She is the mother of the world and of the older brothers, the stone-people. She is the mother of the fruits of the earth and of all things. She is the mother of our youngest brothers, the French and the strangers. She is the mother of our dance paraphernalia, of all our temples and she is the only mother we possess. She alone is the mother of the fire and the Sun and the Milky Way…. She is the mother of the rain and the only mother we possess. And she has left us a token in all temples…a token in the form of songs and dances.
The shaman is a person who can by means of ecstatic states journey outside himself or herself to know other worlds and channel the knowledge gained there toward the benefit of his or her community. The shaman’s soul journeys often reflect the three-tiered cosmos common among primal traditions: an upper sky-world, a middle earth-world, and an underground or undersea world. The shaman’s journey is often preceded by a purifying period of fasting or isolation and induced by singing, dancing, drumming, or the ingestion of psychoactive substances. The journey to the lower world usually commences at a hole, cave, or tree stump, while access to the sky world is provided by a god or creature of the air.
Texts from Christianity
(all from The New Testament)
God is Love
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Putting on the Mind of Christ
Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, …emptied himself, taking the form of a slave being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
Come to Me, You Who Are Weary
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Turn the Other Cheek
You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you…if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;…and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.
Love Your Enemies
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
How blest are these who know their need of God; the kingdom of heaven is theirs. How blest are the sorrowful; they shall find consolation. How blest are those of a gentle spirit; they shall have the earth for their possession. How blest are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail; they shall be satisfied. How blest are those who show mercy; mercy shall be shown to them. How blest are those whose hearts are pure; they shall see God. How blest are the peacemakers; God shall call them his sons. How blest are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of right; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Consider the Lilies
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
The Centrality of Love
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind…. It does not insist on its own way…. It bears all things,…hopes all things, endures all things….
An Instrument of Peace
Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is offence, pardon, Where there is discord, unity, Where there is doubt, faith, Where there is error, truth, Where there is despair, hope, Where there is sadness, joy, Where there is darkness, light. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love. For: It is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life. (Francis of Assisi)
Texts from Hinduism
"A spaciousness, a wonderful spaciousness."
The truth is one the paths are many. There are many gods and goddesses, none jealous of the others. All are manifestions of the ultimate reality, Brahman, which is also your true self: Atman. The Beyond is within. You have many lifetimes to awaken to the fact that you are always already divine. God is not in a hurry."
Hinduism: An Ethos not a Set of Beliefs
The term “Hindu” was first used by people outside of the tradition (particularly by the Greeks and the Persians) to refer to people who reside beyond the Indus/Sindhu River. Hindus today worship different deities and form complex social systems. The similarities of beliefs between Hindus include affirming that the Brahman or the Divine are always present in the universe in different forms, that it takes many lifetimes for self-realization to occur, and that one’s actions will contribute to the soul’s journey in the next life.
Rig Veda: Who Knows?
At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness. All this was only unillumined water. That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing, arose at last, born of the power of heat. In the beginning desire descended on it— that was the primal seed, born of the mind. The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom know that which is, is kin to that which is not.…But, after all, who knows, and who can say whence it all came, and how creation happened? The gods themselves are later than creation, so who knows truly whence it has arisen? Whence all creation had its origin, he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not, he, who surveys it all from highest heaven, he knows—or maybe even he does not know.
Chandogya Upanishad: Thou Art That
There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the Light that shines in our heart. OM… “Believe me, my son, an invisible and subtle essence is the Spirit of the whole universe. That is reality. That is Atman. THOU ART THAT.”
The Insanity of thinking my religion alone is true
Mother, Mother, Mother! Everyone foolishly assumes that his clock alone tells correct time. Christians claim to possess exclusive truth…. Countless varieties of Hindus insist that their sect, no matter how small and insignificant, expresses the ultimate position. Devout Muslims maintain that Koranic revelation supersedes all others. The entire world is being driven insane by this single phrase: “My religion alone is true.” O Mother, you have shown me that no clock is entirely accurate. Only the transcendent sun of knowledge remains on time. Who can make a system from Divine Mystery? But if any sincere practitioner, within whatever culture or religion, prays and meditates with great devotion and commitment to Truth alone, Your Grace will flood his mind and heart,
Grace Rains Down Ceaselessly
Divine Grace, the healing and illuminating energy that rains down ceaselessly upon the human mind, heart, and soul, cannot be absorbed or assimilated by the high, rocky hill of personal interest and personal importance. This precious, life-giving water runs off the high ground of ego, without ever penetrating its hard, barren soil.
Krishna's Theophany to Arjuna: The universe and all the gods within Krishna's Body
Krishna to Arjuna
But you cannot see me thus with those human eyes. Therefore, I give you divine sight. Behold—this is my yoga power.
[Sanjaya, the narrator:] …When he had spoken these words, Sri Krishna, master of all yogis, revealed to Arjuna his transcendent, divine Form, speaking from innumerable mouths, seeing with myriad eyes, of many marvelous aspects, adorned with countless divine ornaments, brandishing all kinds of heavenly weapons, wearing celestial garlands and the raiment of paradise, anointed with perfumes of heavenly fragrance.
Then the son of Pandu [Arjuna] beheld the entire universe, in all its multitudinous diversity, lodged as one being within the body of the God of gods. And then was Arjuna, that lord of mighty riches, overcome with wonder. His hair stood erect. He bowed low before God in adoration, and clasped his hands, and spoke: [Arjuna:] Ah, my God, I see all gods within your body; Each in his degree, the multitude of creatures; See Lord Brahma throned upon the lotus; See all the sages, and the holy serpents. Universal Form, I see you without limit, Infinite of arms, eyes, mouths and bellies— See, and find no end, midst, or beginning. Crowned with diadems, you wield the mace and discus, Shining every way—the eyes shrink from your splendor Brilliant like the sun; like fire, blazing, boundless.
Arjuna to Krishna
You are first and highest in heaven, O ancient Spirit. It is within you the cosmos rests in safety. You are known and knower, goal of all our striving. Endless in your change, you body forth creation.
Act without attachment to results
Perform every action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord. Renounce attachment to the fruits. Be even-tempered in success and failure; for it is this evenness of temper which is meant by yoga. Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender. Seek refuge in the knowledge of Brahman. They who work selfishly for results are miserable..
The illumined person
Not shaken by adversity, Not hankering after happiness: Free from fear, free from anger, Free from the things of desire. I call him a seer, and illumined. The bonds of his flesh are broken. He is lucky, and does not rejoice: He is unlucky, and does not weep. I call him illumined. The tortoise can draw in his legs: The seer can draw in his senses. I call him illumined.
Reincarnation: Transmigration of the Soul
The soul is born and unfolds in a body, with dreams and desires and the food of life. And then it is reborn in new bodies, in accordance with its former works. The quality of the soul determines its future body: earthly or airy, heavy or light. Its thoughts and its actions can lead it to freedom, or lead it to bondage, in life after life. But there is the God of forms Infinite, and when a man knows God he is free from all bondage…. He is an incorporeal Spirit, but he can be seen by a heart which is pure…. He is God, the God of love, and when a man knows him then he leaves behind his bodies of transmigration.
Changogya and Mandukya Upanishad
Even as all leaves come from a stem, all words come from the sound OM. OM is the whole universe. OM is in truth the whole universe....OM. This eternal Word is all: what was, what is and what shall be, and what beyond is in eternity. All is OM.
The Unreality of the World Atman is the only reality
Both bondage and liberation are the fictions of our ignorance. They do not really exist in the Atman. Just as a piece of rope remains rope, whether or not we mistake it for a snake. The imagined snake does not really exist in the rope. The Atman is infinite, without parts, beyond action…. There is neither birth nor death, neither bound nor aspiring soul, neither liberated soul nor seeker after liberation—this is the ultimate and absolute truth.
Novak, Philip. The World's Wisdom (p. 42). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
Texts from Chinese Daoism
The Tao te Ching
The Tao Itself
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnameable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities. It is hidden but always present. I don’t know who gave birth to it. It is older than God. The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds. It flows through all things, inside and outside, and returns to the origin of all things.
Living in Harmony with the Tao: The Quiet Mind
Empty your mind of all thoughts. Let your heart be at peace. Watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return. Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source. If you don’t realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow. When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready.
Living in Harmony with the Tao: Wu-Wei He who stands on tiptoe doesn’t stand firm. He who rushes ahead doesn’t go far. He who tries to shine dims his own light. He who defines himself can’t know who he really is. He who has power over others can’t empower himself. He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. If you want to accord with the Tao, just do your job, then let go. A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving…The gentlest thing in the world overcomes the hardest thing in the world. That which has no substance enters where there is no space.
Living in Harmony with the Tao in Political Life
When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists. Next best is a leader who is loved. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised. If you don’t trust the people, you make them untrustworthy. The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!” If you want to be a great leader, you must learn to follow the Tao. Stop trying to control. Let go of fixed plans and concepts, and the world will govern itself.
Hua Hu Ching
Leadership without attachment to accomplishments or need for credit
The true master understands that enlightenment is not the end but the means. She doesn’t scheme to become a leader, but quietly shoulders whatever responsibilities fall to her. Unattached to her accomplishments, taking credit for nothing at all, she guides the whole world by guiding the individuals who come to her. She shares her divine energy with her students, encouraging them, creating trials to strengthen them, scolding them to awaken them, directing the streams of their lives toward the infinite ocean of the Tao… The highest truth cannot be put into words. Therefore the greatest teacher has nothing to say. He simply gives himself in service, and never worries.
Texts from Judaism
At Judgment Day everyone will have to give an account for every good thing which he [or she] might have enjoyed and did not enjoy.
Oral Torah (Mishna, Rabbi Hillel)
Responsibility to Self and Other
If I am not for myself, who then will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?
Torah (Prophet Micah)
What God Requires
And what GD requires of you: Only to do justice And to love goodness, And to walk modestly with your God.
Made in God's Image, To Dust we Return
And Gd created humankind in His image; male and female He created them.
For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.
Gd as relational: Abraham softens GD's heart
Now the LORD had said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?…”
God is about to destroy the entire city of Sodom due to the wickedness of its inhabitants.
…Abraham came forward and said…“What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” And the LORD answered, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” Abraham spoke up, saying…“What if forty…What if thirty…What if twenty…What if ten should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel
The Sabbath as Freedom
By desisting from all work on the seventh day, we testify that the world is not ours; that, not we, but God is the Lord and creator of the Universe…. If the Sabbath on the one hand emphasizes our servitude to God, it also stresses our freedom from servitude to human masters…. [For] slavery doesn’t only consist of doing forced labor for which one doesn’t get paid…. Have you ever stopped to think that you yourself can be your own cruelest taskmaster, that you are capable of driving yourself in a manner that no slavemaster ever drove his slaves? You’ve got to finish the job. You can’t stop. There are deadlines,…obligations,…commitments,…house cleaning,…shopping, the need to get ready for an evening out…and we think we are free! Even when contemporary man doesn’t actually go to his job, what does he do? He plays just as hard. He transfers the same tension…the same frenzy and the same pressure on his nervous system…from the business office to the ball field, the golf course, the highways of our land, to mowing the lawn, and fixing the house…. He may even be having a good time…but the mental and emotional and physical rest, the tranquility of mind and soul—this he doesn’t have.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
The Sanctification of Time
The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments…. Spiritual life begins to decay when we fail to sense the grandeur of what is eternal in time.
…Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time…. Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year…. Jewish ritual may be characterized as [an] architecture of time.
…One of the most distinguished words in the Bible is the word qadosh, holy; a word which more than any other is representative of the mystery and majesty of the divine. Now what was the first holy object in the history of the world? Was it a mountain? Was it an altar? It is, indeed, a unique occasion at which the distinguished word qadosh is used for the first time…at the end of the story of creation. How extremely significant is the fact that it is applied to time: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” when we fail to sense the grandeur of what is eternal in time. …Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time….
Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year…. Jewish ritual may be characterized as [an] architecture of time. …One of the most distinguished words in the Bible is the word qadosh, holy; a word which more than any other is representative of the mystery and majesty of the divine. Now what was the first holy object in the history of the world? Was it a mountain? Was it an altar? It is, indeed, a unique occasion at which the distinguished word qadosh is used for the first time…at the end of the story of creation. How extremely significant is the fact that it is applied to time: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.”
…The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.
…To set apart one day a week for freedom, a day on which we would not use the instruments which have been so easily turned into weapons of destruction, a day for being with ourselves, a day of detachment from the vulgar, of independence of external obligations, a day on which we stop worshipping the idols of technical civilization, a day on which we use no money, a day of armistice in the economic struggle with our fellow men and the forces of nature—is there any institution that holds out a greater hope for man’s progress than the Sabbath? The solution of mankind’s most vexing problem will not be found in renouncing technical civilization, but in attaining some degree of independence of it.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I beheld my Lord seated on a high and lofty throne; and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple. Seraphs stood in attendance on Him. Each of them had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his legs, and with two he would fly. And one would call to the other, “Holy, holy, holy! The LORD of Hosts! His presence fills all the earth!” …I cried, “Woe is me; I am lost! For I am a man of unclean lips And I live among a people of unclean lips; Yet my own eyes have beheld the King LORD of Hosts.”
In the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, when I was in the community of exiles by the Chebar Canal, the heavens opened and I saw visions of God…. I looked, and lo, a stormy wind came sweeping out of the north—a huge cloud and flashing fire, surrounded by a radiance; and…in the center of the fire, a gleam as of amber. In the center of it were also the figures of four creatures. And this was their appearance: They had the figures of human beings. However, each had four faces, and each of them had four wings…. They had human hands below their wings…. Each one’s wings touched those of the other. They did not turn when they moved; each could move in the direction of any of its faces. Each of them had a human face [at the front]…the face of a lion on the right…the face of an ox on the left…and the face of an eagle [at the back]…. They went wherever the spirit impelled them to go…. …With them was something that looked like burning coals of fire…and lightning issued from the fire. …Above the heads of the creatures was a form: an expanse, with an awe-inspiring gleam as of crystal…. Above the expanse…was the semblance of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and on top, upon this semblance of a throne, there was the semblance of a human form.
Arthur Green on the Sabbath
Texts from Islam: God and I
Closer than Our Jugular Vein
Indeed we who have created humankind and fully know what their souls whisper to them, and we are closer to them than their jugular vein.
If Someone Walks Towards Me, I Run Toward Him
“I fulfill My servant’s expectation of Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in my heart; and if he remembers Me in public, I remember him before a public [far] better than that. And if he draws nearer to Me by a handsbreadth, I draw nearer to Him by an armslength; and if he draws nearer to Me by an armslength, I draw nearer to him by a fathom; and if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.”
I Loved that I Be Known I was a hidden treasure, and I loved that I be known, so I created the world.
From, Abu-Yazid Al-Bistami (died ca. 874) An early Person Sufi in northwestern Iran
The Great Paradox
God can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find Him.
I Am He
I sloughed off my self as a snake sloughs off its skin. Then I looked into myself and saw that I am He.
For thirty years God was my mirror, now I am my own mirror. What I was I no longer am, for “I” and “God” are a denial of God’s unity. Since I no longer am, God is his own mirror. He speaks with my tongue, and I have vanished. d. Self and God Forgetfulness of self is remembrance of God.
Self and God Forgetfulness of self is remembrance of God.
From Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
God Sees Beneath the Forms In the following story, the great prophet Moses has just scolded an ordinary person for addressing God in simple, human terms. Mortified, the person shrinks away. God then appears to Moses and says: You have separated Me from one of My own. Did you come as a Prophet to unite, or to sever? I have given each being a separate and unique way of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge. What seems wrong to you is right for him. What is poison to one is honey to someone else. Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship, these mean nothing to Me. I am apart from all that. Ways of worshipping are not to be ranked as better or worse than one another. Hindus do Hindu things. The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do. It’s all praise, it’s all right. It’s not Me that’s glorified in acts of worship. It’s the worshippers! I don’t hear the words they say. I look inside at the humility. That broken-open lowliness is the Reality, not the language! Forget phraseology. I want burning, burning….
Texts from Islam: God and Us
From the Qur’an God Reveals Scripture and Sends Messengers and Prophets
We have revealed the Torah, in which there is guidance and light. By it the prophets who surrendered themselves judged the Jews…according to God’s Book which had been committed to their keeping and to which they themselves were witnesses. …After them We sent forth Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Torah already revealed, and gave him the Gospel, in which there is guidance and light, corroborating what was revealed before it in the Torah, a guide and an admonition to the righteous…. And to you [Muslims] We have revealed the Book with the truth. It confirms the Scriptures which came before it and stands as a guardian over them.
A Prophet for Each Nation
An apostle is sent to every nation. When their apostle comes, justice is done among them; they are not wronged. We raised an apostle in every nation, saying: “Serve [the One] God and keep away from false gods.” Islam’s Continuity with the Prophetic Traditions of Judaism and Christianity Say: “We believe in God and that which is revealed to us; in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them, and to Allah we have surrendered ourselves.”
God Recognizes the Righteous Irrespective of Sect There are among the People of the Book some upright persons who all night long recite the revelations of God and worship Him; who believe in God and the Last Day; who enjoin justice and forbid evil and vie with each other in good works. These are righteous people: whatever good they do, its reward shall not be denied them. God knows the righteous.
Texts from Islam: Women
From the Qur’an
The Qur’an improved the situation of women in the ancient Arabian world. Girl-child infanticide was outlawed, protections including divorce rights were sanctioned, and women were given inheritance rights for the first time. It would be wrong to say that Muslim feminists see the Qur’an as unproblematic. Nevertheless, many see it as an ally rather than an enemy. “Muslim thinkers, and especially feminists…have found [the Qur’an] often to be at odds with the frankly male chauvinist institutions and customs of Islamic societies since early times.” The Qur’an explicitly asserts that men and women are equal before God and enjoy the same religious duties and privileges, as per the first selection below. (Novak, Philip. The World's Wisdom)
For Muslim men and women-- For believing men and women, For devout men and women, For truthful men and women, For men and women who are Patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, For men and women who give In charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), For men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise For them has Allah prepared Forgiveness and great Reward
Novak, Philip. The World's Wisdom (p. 303). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.