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Archive for July, 2008

The water is one

Posted by Pelgrim on 28th July 2008

How many words the world contains! But all have one meaning. When you smash the vessels, the water is one.

Rumi - Divan- i Shams-i Tabriz

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The Sufi path of love

Posted by Pelgrim on 27th July 2008

THREE DIMENSIONS OF SUFISM

Sufi teachings can be divided into three broad categories. The first two categories may be referred to as “wisdom” and “method,” or in terms more commonly used in the context of Islam, “knowledge” (’ilm) and “works” (’amal), i.e., “theory” and “practice.” According to the Prophet, “Knowledge without works is like a tree without fruit.” Here of course “knowledge” is the same thing the Prophet has referred to in many other sayings, such as, “The search for knowledge is incum­bent upon every Moslem”; “Seek knowledge, even unto China”; “Knowledge is a light which God causes to descend into the heart of whomsoever He will!.” It is the knowledge of God Himself and of man’s ultimate end. For Moslems, it is the knowledge revealed by the Koran. In such a perspective “works” means the application of this knowledge to one’s everyday life. For Moslems it is the practice of Islam.

Within the context of this Islamic conception of knowledge and works, the Sufis emphasize a third element that is not set down so explicitly in the Koran and the Hadith: spiritual realization, or the ascending stages of human perfection resulting in proximity to God. Again the Sufis cite a saying of the Prophet: “The Law is my words, the Way is my works, and the Truth is my inward states.” Here the Sufis understand “Law” or Shariah in its widest sense, as embracing “knowledge” and all the theoretical teachings of Islam. The “Way” or Tariqah is then the method of putting the Law into practice. And the Reality or Haqiqah is the inward states and stations attained by the traveller in his journey to God and in God.

The Law is like a lamp: It shows the way.
Without a lamp, you will not be able to go forward. When you enter the path, your going is the Way. And when you reach the goal, that is the Truth.

The Law may be compared to learning the theory of medicine. The Way involves avoiding certain foods and consuming certain remedies on the basis of this theory. Then the Truth is to find everlasting health and to have no more need for theory and practice.
When man dies to the life of this world, the Law and the Way will be cut off from him, and only the Truth will remain…. The Law is knowledge, the Way is works and the Truth is attainment to God.
(M V introd.)

These then are the three dimensions of Sufi teaching: the Law, the Way, and the Truth; or knowledge, works, and attainment to God; or theory, practice, and spiritual realization.
Knowledge of God, man, and the world derives ultimately from God Himself, primarily by means of revelation, i.e. - in the context of Islam - the Koran and the Hadith of the Prophet; and secondarily by means of inspiration or “unveiling,” i.e., the spiritual vision of the saints, or the realized Sufis. Knowledge provides the illumination whereby man can see everything in its proper place.

Thus “knowledge,” or the theoretical dimension of religion, which becomes codified in the farm of the Divine Law, situates man in the total universe, defining his nature and responsibilities as a human being. Knowledge and theory find their complementary dimension in practice, or the Way, which is determined by the “works” or Sunnah of the Prophet, the norm for all God-directed human activity. To follow the Sufi path is to obey the commands and prohibitions of God ac­cording to the model provided by His Prophet: “You have a good example in God’s Messenger, for whosoever hopes for God and the last day, and remembers God often” (Koran XXXIII 21). “Say (oh Muhammad)! ‘If you love God, follow me, and God will love you and forgive you your sins’” (III 31) More specifically the Sufi Way is to follow the model provided by the Prophet’s representatives on earth, the saints, who are the shaykhs or the spiritual masters.

Once having entered the Way, the disciple begins to undergo a process of inward transformation. If he is among those destined to reach spiritual perfection, he will climb the ascending rungs of a ladder stretching to heaven and beyond; the alchemy of the Way will transmute the base copper of his substance into pure and noble gold.

The Truth or “attainment to God” is not a simple, one-step process. It can be said that this third dimension of Sufi teaching deals with all the inner experiences undergone by the traveller on his journey. It concerns all the “virtues” (akhlaq) the Sufi must acquire, in keeping with the Prophet’s saying, “Assume the virtues of God!” If acquiring virtues means “attaining to God,” this is because they do not belong to man. The discipline of the Way coupled with God’s grace and guidance results in a process of purification whereby the veil of human nature is gradually removed from the mirror of the primordial human substance, made in the image of God, or, in the Prophet’s words, “upon the Form of the All-Merciful.” Any perfection achieved by man is God’s perfection reflected within him.
 
In the classical textbooks, this third dimension of Sufi teachings is discussed mainly under the heading of the “stations” (maqamat) and the “spiritual states” (ahwal). From a certain point of view we can call this dimension “Sufi psychology” - as long as we understand the term “psyche” in the widest possible sense, as equivalent to “spirit” in Rumi’s terminology. Sufi psychology could then be defined as “the science of the transformations undergone by the spirit in its journey to God.” One must remember, however, that this science bears no resemblance to “psychology” as known in the West today.
For in Rumi’s terminology, modern psychology is based totally upon the ego’s study of itself. But the “ego” (nafs) is the lowest dimension of man’s inward existence, his animal and satanic nature. Only God or the spirit can know the spirit, which is man’s higher or angelic nature. Ultimately the ego cannot even know itself without a totally distorted viewpoint, for it gains all of its positive reality from the spirit that lies above and beyond it. Only the spirit that encompasses and em­braces the ego can know the ego. And only the saints have attained to the station whereby their consciousness of reality is centered within their spirits or in God.
In Sufi psychology, the “stations” are said to be the spiritual and moral perfections, or the “virtues,” achieved by the traveller on the path to God. For example, once having actualized wakefulness, the traveller moves on to repentance and then to self-examination; or once having achieved humility, he ascends to chivalry and then to expan­sion. A work such as Ansari’s Manazil al-sa’irin, from which these examples are taken, classifies the ascending stations in ten sections according to one hundred different headings. Other Sufis have em­ployed totally different schemes and classified the stations in a greater or lesser number of headings. But the general idea of all the classi­fications is the same: an ascending ladder of spiritual perfections that man must climb.

As for the “states,” they are usually said to consist of spiritual graces bestowed directly by God and outside of man’s power of ac­quisition. Unlike the stations, the states are not seen as moving in an ascending hierarchy, but rather as coming and going as God wills.
However this may be, Rumi does not discuss the “stations and states” explicitly or as such. But he does discuss the inward spiritual experiences the traveller undergoes in great detail, as well as the attitudes and mental states man must try to achieve. As indicated earlier, numerous poems in the Diwan may be viewed as poetical expressions of specific spiritual states and experiences.
In short, Rumi provides a detailed elucidation of Sufi psychology, but not in terms of the systematic schemes found in the classical textbooks. Hence the student of his works must himself provide a framework within which these teachings can be discussed.

Quoted from the introduction of “The Sufi path of love,
the spiritual teachings of Rumi” by William C. Chittick

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Reflections

Posted by Pelgrim on 27th July 2008

“Teacher” said the pupil “Why is it that the most zealous in the search for God’s Kingdom are capable of the most horrific extremes and rigid legalism?”

That, my son, is like this pond; what do you see when you look into it?”

“I see myself, teacher”  

 Now what do you see if you hit the water with your stick?

“then, teacher, I only see troubled water!”

That my son is the problem with the mirror of the soul.

From a work in progress based on Psalm 119, 54 - working title Songs from the wilderness, H. Blum 

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the mountain of David, his seed and offspring

Posted by Pelgrim on 12th July 2008

Isa 25, 7 And he will destroy in this mountain [of Zion, the mount of David] the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken [it].

9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this [is] our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this [is] the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

10 For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.

The word used for vail here is maccekah followed by its Hebrew root from which it is derived, nacah.

maccekah is used eighteen times to denote a molten image as in the idol of the golden calf cast by the children of Israel in the desert: Exd 32:4, Exd 32:8, Deu 9:12, Deu 9:16.

Also one of the 10 commandments not to make a molten image, an idol: Exd 34:17 and Lev 19:4.

maccekah

1) a pouring, libation, molten metal, cast image, drink offering

     a) libation (with covenant sacrifice)

     b) molten metal, molten image, molten gods

2) web, covering, veil, woven stuff

 

nacak

1) to pour out, pour, offer, cast

     a) (Qal)

          1) to pour out

2) to cast metal images

3) to anoint (a king)

     b) (Niphal) to be anointed

     c) (Piel) to pour out (as a libation)

     d) (Hiphil) to pour out libations

     e) (Hophal) to be poured out

2) to set, install

     a) (Qal) to install

     b) (Niphal) to be installed

 

Now why is it so hard for us to turn to Him who is the source/well of life in us? Our vessel the work of his hands awaiting the gift of life, His Breath of life, waiting to be filled. Why do we instead search it outside of ourselves, turning to objects that will never inherit his glory or receive His name. Why do we need to learn the hard way? The hard and painfull lesson of free will.

Isa 30, 1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

Isa 30, 14 And  he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water [withal] out of the pit.

15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Isa 43:7 [Even] every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

Isa 45:4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

Isa 65:1 I am sought of [them that] asked not [for me]; I am found of [them that] sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation [that] was not called by my name.

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I will hide my face/presence

Posted by Pelgrim on 12th July 2008

Deu 31:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go [to be] among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.

17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will cathar [hide, conceal] my paniym [face, presence] from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God [is] not qereb [among us, amidst us, within us]?

qereb from qarab to come near, approach, enter into, draw near.

Paniym from panah, to turn to, to turn toward, to turn around, to turn back.

as in Isa 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, panah ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Zech 12, 1 The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him

Deu 30:14 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, [and] if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.

11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it [is] not hidden from thee, neither [is] it far off.

12 It [is] not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither [is] it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

14 But the word [is] very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. 

15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

Deu 32:20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end [shall be]: for they [are] a very froward generation, children in whom [is] no faith.

Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.

4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, [which] he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid [it] upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here [am] I; send me.

9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, 12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and [there be] a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

13 But yet in it [shall be] a tenth, and [it] shall return, and shall be ba`ar [burned, consumed, kindled]: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance [is] in them, when they cast [their leaves: so] the holy seed [shall be] the substance thereof.

Aramaic Targum to Isaiah of verse 13. The Targums which are a translation and interpretive explanation of the text, were initially made in the intertestament period from 300 to 400 BCE and forward. Although added to after the time of Jesus they were initially composed before.

Translated Targum of Isaiah 6:13 And a tenth shall be left in it, and they shall be burnt up again: like a terebinth and like an oak, which appear to be dried up when their leaves fall, though they still retain their moisture to preserve a seed from them: so the exiles for Israel shall be gathered together, and shall return to their land; for a holy seed is their plant.

Eze 39:27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;  28 Then shall they know that I [am] the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.

29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.

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the Miltha, substance, manifestation, word

Posted by Pelgrim on 10th July 2008

Translation of John by Paul Younan from the Aramaic Peshitta.

John 1 In the beginning was the Miltha 1. And that Miltha was with God. And God was that Miltha. 2. This was with God in the beginning. 3. Everything existed through His hands, and without Him, not even one thing existed of the things, which have existed.

4. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

5. And that light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.

6. There was a man who was sent from God whose name was Yukhanan. 7. This man came for a witness that he might testify concerning the light that all might believe through his hand. 8. He was not the light; rather that he might bear witness concerning the light.

9. For the light was of truth, that which shines on all who come into the world.

10. He was in the world, and the world existed by his hand and the world did not know him. 11. He came to His own, and his own did not receive him.

12 But those who did receive him He gave to them authority that they might be the sons of God, those who have believed in His name.

13. Those who neither by blood nor by the will of the flesh nor by the will of a man, rather were begotten by God.

14. And the Miltha became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw his glory, the glory as the Echadaya 2 who is from the Father who is full of grace and truth.

Footnotes:
“Miltha” has no direct English equivalent. It can mean `Word’, `Manifestation’, `Instance’ or `Substance’, among many other things. In this context, it is best left untranslated.

“Ekhadaya” is a beautiful theological term employed by many Eastern theologians and poets. It literally means “THE ONE”

John 1 Aramaic Peshitta

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Complete … no good will he withhold from them that walk uprightly

Posted by Pelgrim on 3rd July 2008

Continued from post Be thou perfect/whole/complete as the fulfillment of the way of Abraham, walk before my presence and be thou tamiym, perfect/whole/complete.

Halak, akin to yalak, to walk, live, way of conduct, way of life, go out [for thyself gen 12, 1]

Paniym, presence, face, person, before. From panah to turn oneself, to turn to.

Isa 40, 3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare [panah] ye the way of the LORD, make straight [yashar] in the desert a highway for our God.

yashar, to make straight, to be straight especially of a way, to be upright, to be pleasing, be agreeable, to lead.

Isa 44, 3 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, [which] will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. 4 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

Jesurun, upright one, a symbolic name for Israel describing her ideal character, from yashar, to make straight.

Psalm 84, 2 My soul longeth, yea, even kalah for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life/neshamah chaim; and man became a living soul/chai nephesh.

Job 12, 10 In whose hand [is] the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

Psalm 56, 13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: [wilt] not [thou deliver] my feet from falling, that I may walk/halak before God in the light/owr of the living/chaim?

kalah, to be complete, be at an end, to be completed, be finished, to be accomplished, be fulfilled, to put an end to, cause to cease.

Psalm 84, 11 … no good [thing] will he withhold from them that walk uprightly/halak tamiym.

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