Islamic Mysticism

The aim of Islamic mysticism is to understand the mystery of divine creation and to understand man’s relationship with God in order to better enact His will on Earth. The goal of a Sufi is to return to the primordial state of the human being in which the human will is one with the will of God and all action is an expression of the love of God. Some Sufi practices include recitation of the names of God, meditation on a visualization of the name Allah written on the heart, and devotion to Muhammad. Muhammad is seen by Sufis as the … Continue reading

The Mandala and the Mind

Mandalas can be found in the artistic traditions of many world religions and philosophies. The word mandala comes from the Sanskrit word for circle, and traditionally refers to the the use of the circle in the sacred art of India, but today the word is used to refer to a much more universal piece of human symbolism. The symbolism of a mandala connects the themes of unity and growth, often representing the coming together of opposites to form a whole. The Yin-Yang or symbol of the Tao, diagrams of the I Ching, the Sri Yantra, and the Bhavachakra are all … Continue reading

The Benefit of Stray Thoughts

Meditation is often touted as a way to focus the mind and get rid of mental restlessness and stray thoughts. I’m not sure there is such a thing as a stray thought. The first time I really tried to mediate several years ago, I lay down on the floor and tried to clear my mind. Laying on the floor is not a proper position for meditation, I know, but it was the one where I could be the most comfortable and not be distracted by physical pain on top of everything else. A scene from a movie came to mind … Continue reading

Discipline Meets Love

Perhaps one of the dangers of the spiritual discipline of the eastern or yogic path as compared with a western or Christian path is that the yogi may come to believe that it is through his own efforts at meditation and other spiritual practices that he has attained mastery. Many Christians probably err on the side of believing that Jesus did everything for them already–that He already attained their salvation for them. This is positive in the sense that it engenders humility but negative if it engenders laziness and entitlement. Ultimately, I would think the gift of grace must be present with … Continue reading

Infinity in the Other Direction

universe

I was doing a guided meditation about a week ago. The meditation involved visualizing galaxies and expanding your consciousness outward. The leader asked everyone to consider how small their own body is in comparison with the entire universe. His point was that we are not our bodies and that we don’t have to identify with our own bodies. I get the point, but I also do not feel that the human body or any other material object is necessarily a limitation. It seems to me that infinity goes in both directions: infinitely large and infinitely small. In the not-too-distant past, … Continue reading