Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard
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To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/
XX. Spiritus Mundi (London/Jerusalem)
Jack Sartorius rode in the long black limo seated nestled in its plush black leather alongside Etienne Dearlove as they made their way from Winfield House, the residence of the United States Ambassador in London, to Heathrow Airport. Etienne drew a silver cigar case from his overcoat pocket and made a gesture of offer to Jack as he opened it. Jack drew a fine Cuban Montecristo Number Two and Etienne a Montecristo Number Four and they talked over old times as well as the plans for the opening of the inaugural session of the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in New York in a few days time. Etienne was just celebrating his first anniversary as the new “C,” or head of MI6, British Intelligence and he saw quite a bit of Jack, now Jack Sartorius again and no longer Jack McKinsey, who had been recently appointed to succeed Joel Barlow as the CIA Station Chief in London, and he was only getting used to the sedate and courtly courtesies of the higher fringes of the diplomatic world.
“Are you going to see Isis in Jerusalem?” Etienne asked, exhaling the smooth and thick gray smoke against the partition window separating them from the driver and armed bodyguard in the front seat.
“Yes, I am going with her to visit the site of their new Spiritus Mundi Inter-faith Temple which is under construction in the old detonation zone, and then in a day or two she and I and Mohammad Ala Rushdie and Ami Giyalon are going to follow you up to New York for the inaugural ceremony of the new UN Parliamentary Assembly—-I’m going to give a little speech in honour of my father.” he replied.
“So you haven’t seen too much of her since the great events?” Etienne asked.
“Off and on. But since her religious conversion we have never resumed our former relationship, though we are close friends of course, and we have gone in our different directions.” he replied.
“Yes—-it’s ‘Mother Isis’ now and she has been steady at her spiritual and humanitarian work these past years. We all cannot help but recalling how extraordinarily she led and inspired the spiritual movement that followed on through the crisis following the detonation, and how the roiling mobs of those hundred of thousands turned to her in their moment of panic and confusion. And the unceasing effort of her face to face ministering to the sick and dying radiation victims and the displaced and homeless these last years and her show inner strength—that rising to the challenge is beyond doubt. Rumour has it that she may be up for a Nobel Peace Prize this year or next—-her work is patent to everyone following the detonation and poor Osiris’ shooting—perhaps another Mother Teresa, they all say. She might have had it already if she didn’t have to carry the cross of working off and burying her previous media image—-the cynics still suspect its all another media stunt—-but from what I understand she is quite sincere.”
“Yes, quite sincere—-she was always deeply religious you know, even quite traditional if you really knew her—-even when when the world would have least suspected it—–just marching to another drummer, you know—still shaped by her original Jesuit upbringing—–and the grief of Osiris’ death and the utter devastation of everything around her just brought on somehow this profound change in her heart and life.” he reflected.
“Ah, here we are—-I’ll get off here at my official plane and the driver will take you on to yours—Oh—there’s Yoriko getting out of the other car—she’s flying over with me for the New York events——business and pleasure.” chirped Etienne as he got out and placed a respectably conventional-looking kiss on the side of her cheek, then waved with her to Jack as his car rolled slowly across the tarmac.
An hour later Jack settled into his first-class cabin seat aboard the El Al airliner headed for Ben Gurion airport, outside Jerusalem. He closed his eyes and reclined the seat backward to rest for a quarter hour until the coffee service interrupted him, and then sipping an expresso he took out his iPad, touching and expanding his fingerspans across its screen-surface as he gleaned and magnified the latest news. One article on the wire services showed a picture of “Mother Isis” plugging the release of her new book—-“Spiritus Mundi: A World Reborn” co-written by her colleagues of the The Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance, Mohammad ala Rushdie and Ami Giyalon, the proceeds of which were to be 100% completely dedicated, the article related, to the construction of the new and imposing Spiritus Mundi Ecumenical Temple on the site of the detonation in Jerusalem, co-sponsored with the Order of the Brethern of Shared Life, Mother Isis’ religious order chartered recently under her guidance by the Pope, a Sufi Order under the guidance of Mohammad ala Rushdie, and a coalition of Reformed and Progressive Jews headed by Ami Giyalon. The Temple would serve on completion as an inter-faith house of worship for universal and ecumenical spirituality, and as the permanent home and headquarters of their Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance movement and organization, it said. Jack followed the link and application to download the new book onto his iPad. Calling it up it presented payment options, all of which were to be 100% dedicated to the Spiritus Mundi Inter-faith Temple. Options included a VIP 1000 British pound donation, a 100 pound donation, a 10 pound donation, and an option to receive the E-Book free with registration of the purchaser’s name as a volunteer, pledging 24 hours of work as a volunteer for the Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance. Jack clicked on the 100 pound option, and in a few moments the cover of the book appeared on his iPad’s screen, showing Mother Isis, Mohammad and Ami hand in hand before the artist’s conception of the imposing finished structure of the Spiritus Mundi Inter-faith Temple, materializing in a hypermodernesque dome crafted in the imaginative style of Frank Ghery. Jack flipped his forefinger across the corner of the iPad’s screen, opening the book and turning its first pages:
This book is inspired by and dedicated to the common life of the human soul and spirit in all of its varied manifestations, in the belief that modern life and the crisis of mankind requires a spiritual re-birth and a universal spiritual communion embracing all peoples, all faiths, and all varieties of religious and spiritual experience if humanity on this earth is to survive, live in peace, and to prosper inwardly and outwardly. It affirms the common spiritual life and the common spiritual aspirations of all peoples issuing from our common collective unconscious and manifesting itself in our most various faiths, traditions, beliefs and historical associations.
The proceeds of the sale of this book are dedicated in their entirety to the work of the construction of the Spiritus Mundi Inter-Faith Ecumenical Temple on Ground-Zero—the site of the recent horrific nuclear detonation and tragic events in Jerusalem, to the work of the Order of the Brethern of the Common Life, who minister daily to the needs of the injured victims of that blast, including the maintainance of hospices and hospitals for the treatment of its radiation sickness sufferers and the provision of interim housing and decontamination in the disaster area, and to the work of the Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance, whose work in global spiritual regeneration is directed to the end that such a tragedy may not be in vain, and must not happen again.
To this end the contributing authors of this volume, Mother Isis, Mohammad ala Rusdie and Ami Giyalon, coming respectively from the great religious faiths and traditions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and Jennie Zheng and Pari Kasiwar representing the mixed Buddhist/Hindu/Confucian/Taoist spiritual heritage of the East, offer their spiritual guidance for the benefit of those who may gain inspiration from their intense spiritual experience, especially in the wake of the recent tragedy in Jerusalem, in the hope that their common spirituality may serve to heal the wounds that have issued from it, but more importantly make a contribution to the ongoing spiritual evolution of the modern world which we must all by necessity, co-habit together.
The varieties of spiritual and religious experience are manifold and diverse. In the Biblical tradition the story of Martha and Mary of Bethany in their encounter with Jesus, underlines that religious service may be either inwardly directed or outwardly directed, and religious or spiritual devotion may embrace people who are both actives and contemplatives. While such divisions are never absolute or categorical, we might say that the spiritual counsel of Mother Isis reflected in her writings herein, embraces more of active tradition of spiritual work, while that of our brother Sufi adept, Mohammad ala Rushdie, embraces more of the contemplative or mystical tradition of spiritual work and inspiration. Our brother Ami Giyalon, additionally, lends special strength to the ethical aspects of our common spiritual work. Jennie Zheng and Pari Kasiwar lends both their heritages of Eastern Spirituality and the Emersonian and Whitmanesque spirituality of Nature and their American heritage.
Our common hope is that the Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance, and the Spiritus Mundi Interfaith Temple now under construction at Ground-Zero will provide a “large tent” that will embrace all of the traditions and manifestations of global spirituality and religious experience issuing from our common and shared collective unconscious, including the social activist, the mystical and contemplative, the traditions of saintliness and of spiritual community, of both religious and non-religious spirituality, and of the individual and the communal. Indeed we have faith that the spiritual life and heritage of mankind is large, deep and broad enough to include not only the three Abrahamic faiths represented by several authors of this book but the common spiritual heritage of mankind embracing Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and even the more secular forms of spirituality: the human imagination in all forms, human love in all forms, humanism, Enlightenment, Confucianism, art, World Literature, music, science, reason and philosophy——even atheism, Existentialism and materialist Communism—which we have perfect faith are not devoid of the ever onward evolving forms and energies of human spirituality. Like the Infinite, its center is everywhere and its circumference nowhere, and its nation is humanity, firmly rooted in the human mind and the human heart and the common love and compassion of all sentient beings in our common universe. Our Global Spiritual Progressive Alliance and our Spiritus Mundi Temple embrace all these forms of the human spirit and its spirituality, and the Spiritus Mundi Temple is also a Temple of Reason and a Temple of Science as well as a Temple of Art and Imagination, all forms issuing from the common collective unsconscious of and genius of humanity and manifesting themselves in its onward spiritual life, and therein we have perfect faith that we are justified, as modern genetic scientists observe of our very DNA that it is everywhere 99.9% the same and only at very most 0.1 % in difference, and thus there is every justification for emphasizing our commonality and the universal civilization build thereon, rather than dwelling on the infinitesimal zone of difference and discord. And thus we hope in this way that the clash of civilizations will give way to the common clasp and embrace of our universal spiritual civilization, and that the sick soul and divided self of the modern world and its suffering peoples may thereby in some measure be brought to healing, and returned to its wholeness, its wholesomness, and its spiritual health.
Jack flipped forward, flicking his forefinger across the corner of his iPad until he care to the first page of the one-third portion of the book authored by Isis:
MOTHER ISIS: THOUGHTS HELPFUL IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL
Imitating Christ and Despising the Vanities on Earth
“He who follows me walks not in darkness.” Says the Lord. By these words Christ advised us to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ, and in the challenges of our own lives, to raise in our own minds the question of what Jesus would have done in similar circumstances, and to rise to that challenge accordingly in our own lives.
The teaching of Christ is more excellent than that of all the advice of the philosophers and saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden strength. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ within them. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ, embracing all of its aspects, not only his heroic suffering for humanity’s sake, but also his daily love and joy, and his joyful embrace of the inner and the outer, the bodily, intellectual, moral and spiritual life of his full humanity, as well as his divine mission beyond. Cherish and imitate Christ, not only in his willing suffering on the Cross, but also in to joy and passion of his love and life, for heroes and saints reveal themselves to us not merely in the sublimity of how they die, but even moreso in the greatness of how they live.
It was this thought which so changed my life when I found myself convulsed with the tragic loss of my husband Osiris, a prey to his own mental deterioration and the forces he unleashed but could not control, and as I found myself caught up in the greater tragedy of the nuclear detonation here in Jerusalem, the spiritual navel of the world—so caught up in lovelessness and hate and so in need of physical and spiritual healing. For many days I was paralyzed in shock, yet fantastically I found millions screaming to me for guidance. I saw the unreality of everything around me that had motivated my life: fame, money, self-love and aggrandizement, consumer luxuries and the narcotic drug of media attention. I saw as from the book of Ecclesiastes how empty of reality it all was and how soon to disappear into nothingness—all vanity, a vanity of vanities. Some say humility is to see oneself as one is. I was forced to do so, and to pray for help and guidance in my inadequacies. But arising from my mental shock I tried to imagine what it was like for Christ in this city and what he might have done had he been me in my circumstances of the present world. I knew Osiris had followed a distortion of Christ’s image in madness and delusion, in the disease of his mind seeking to become the god he never was and never could be. I tried to atone for this madness by recovering my Christ’s love and his sanity and his feeling for the suffering of others around him. I knew the madness of the media-magnification of my small self gave me some extraordinary capacity to help others that an ordinary person might not have. I resolved to follow Christ in my heart and act in his essential sanity and love to do my small part without delusion to aid those in need. For the last years we have opened hospices for those sick and dying from radiation poisioning, and we have established the Order of the Brethern of the Common Life to minister to the needs of the poor, and displaced and victimized throughout the world.
Now they call me “Mother Isis,” and while silly in some respects I take it as a badge of honor—-I am proud to help and minister to those in need—and the world needs a mother’s love, though I am so far unworthy and incapable of supplying it as might be needed. In any case it is more than I was before, my empty tabloid self, and may I be forgiven the shortcomings of my past.
Therefore I say to you all: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing. (Ecclesiastes 1:8)” Try, moreover, to turn your hearts from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. Turn away from the fictive desires of consumer brands, money and media acclaim which disappear in their unreality, and join in the spiritual community of hearts and minds making efforts towards a better world in the small but real steps of their own lives and relationships to others and to God. Turn your hearts, in emulation of the heart and spirit of Christ, towards the realer things of life, both visible and invisible.
Strengthen me by the grace of Your holy spirit, O God. Give me the power to be strengthened inwardly and to empty my heart of all vain care and anxiety, and of all the vanities and cancers of self-love, so that I may not be drawn away by so many false and empty desires, whether for precious things or for mean ones, whether for vainglory or the idolatry of self. Let me look upon everything as passing, and upon myself as soon to pass away with them, because there is nothing lasting under the sun, where all is vanity and affliction of spirit. Allow me to find useful work, in service of You, God the Great Workmaster, and guide me to my Calling in and through You. Keep yourself Strangers and Pilgrims in this world. (1 Peter 2:4) Lay the axe to the root and conquer self.
Thanks be to You from Whom all things come, whenever it is well with me. In Your sight I am vanity and nothingness, a weak, unstable woman. In what therefore, can I glory, and how can I wish to be highly regarded? It is because I am nothing, or only an infinitesimal part of You, who are everything. All that I have been before you came into me was but utterly vain. Indeed the greatest vanity is the evil plague of self-glory, because it draws one away from true glory and robs one of heavenly grace and purpose. For when a man or woman is pleased with themselves overmuch, they displease You; when they pant after human praise and acclaim and applause they are deprived of true virtue. But it is true glory and holy exultation to glory in You and emulate your virtue, not in mere and flawed self, and to rejoice in Your name rather in one’s own.
Do not cast me out forever nor blot me out of the Book of Life! O Lord it is true. I have lived blindly and disordered in mind and heart—I have sinned and fallen short. How is a man the better for being thought better by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful; the vain man deceives the vain; the blind deceives the blind; the blind and weak deceives the weak as often as he extols them, and in truth his foolish praise shames them the more. For as the good St. Francis tells us, whatever anyone is in Your sight, that he is and nothing more. Let Your truth teach me. I ask that it be with me as You say. Let it guard me and keep me safe to the end. Let it free me from all evil affection and badly ordered love, and I shall walk with You in the great freedom of the heart.
A man or a woman must fight long and bravely against themselves before they learn to master themselves fully and direct all their affections towards God. This is the great victory, the victory over Self. To find oneself one must truly lose oneself, even defeat oneself in a greater victory. Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more that a man dies to himself the more he begins to live unto God. The perfect victory is to triumph over self. For him who does this violence to himself, that holds himself in subjection, that sensuality and self-glory obey reason and reason obeys the spirit of God in all matters, is truly his own conqueror and the master of the world. Therefore lay the axe bravely to the root—tear out and destroy any hidden unruly love of self or earthly goods or illusions. Christ invokes us not to flee from suffering, neither in ourselves or in others, but to embrace it, and to compassionate it, and to purify ourselves in it. He calls to all who wish to follow him saying: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Jack continued to run his thumb and forefinger over the iPad screen, scrolling forward through the pages of Isis’ writing, his fingertips stopping here and there to browse her words:
The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love
“O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. My Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all that is within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the exultation of my heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation. But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue imperfect, I must be strengthened and comforted by You. Visit me often, therefore and infuse in me Your holy discipline. Free me from evil passions and clense my heart of all disorderly affection so that, healed and purified within, I may be fit to love, strong to suffer and firm to persevere.
My God, my love, You are all mine and I am all Yours. Give me an increase of love, that I may learn to taste with the inward lips of my heart how sweet it is to love, how sweet to be dissolved in love and bathe in it. Let me be rapt in love. Let me rise above self in great fervor and wonder. Let my soul exhaust itself in praising You, rejoicing out of our love. Let me love You more than myself, and let me not love myself except for Your sake. In You let me love all those who truly love You, as the law of love, which shines forth from You, commands.”
Isis Unveiled: My Spouse and Pure Lover, Jesus Christ
“Who, O most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most pure Lover, Lord of all creation, who shall give me the wings of true liberty that I may fly to rest in You? When shall freedom be fully given me to see how sweet You are, O Lord, my God? When shall I recollect myself entirely in You, so that because of Your love I may feel, not myself but You alone above all sense and measure, in a manner known to none? But now I often lament and grieve over my unhappiness, for many evils befall me in this vale of miseries, often disturbing my mind, making me sad in my depressions and overshadowing me, often hindering and distracting me, alluring and entangling me so that I neither have free access to You nor enjoy the secret embraces which are ever ready for blessed souls. Let my sighs and the desolations of my heart move You.
O Jesus, Splendor of eternal glory, Consolation of the pilgrim soul, with You my lips utter no sound and to You my silence speaks. How long will my Lord delay His Coming? Let Him come to His poor servant and make him happy. Let Him put forth His hand and take this miserable creature from her anguish. Come, O come and come again! Come, for without You there will be no happy day or hour, because You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters, until You fill me with the light of Your Presence, restore me to liberty, and show me a friendly and loving countenance. Let others seek instead of You whatever they will, but nothing pleases me or will please me but You, my God, my Hope, my everlasting Salvation and Deliverance. I will not be silent, I will not cease praying until Your grace returns to me and You speak inwardly to me, saying ‘Behold, I am her. Lo, I have come unto you because you have called Me. Your tears and the desire of your inmost soul, your humility and contrition of heart have inclined Me and brought Me to you.’ Lord I have called You, and have desired You, and have been ready to spurn all things for Your sake. Love me O Lord with the deepest Love!”
My Thoughts On Death
Very soon life here will end. I have seen my husband Osiris die bleeding in my arms. Since then I have seen thousands die, many in my own arms, and some in agony. My mother and father have left me and this world behind. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are quickly forgotten; consider, then what may be in store for you elsewhere.
Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would not fear death very much. It is better to avoid sinfulness and shortcoming than to fear death. If you are not prepared today, how will you prepare tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know you will have a tomorrow?
What good would a long or longer life do you when we waste so much of what life we have? A long life does not always benefit us, but on the contrary, frequently adds to our shortcomings. Would that in this world we had lived well throughout one single day! Therefore do not worry yourself and your diet and your doctor with pleadings for longer life. Instead resolve to live well, and to live well now with what span of life God is pleased to give us. Blessed is he or she who keeps the moment of death ever before their eyes and prepares for it well every day.
If you have seen a man die, remember that you too must go the same way. In the morning consider that you may not live until evening; and when evening comes do not dare to promise yourself the dawn. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly. The present is therefore very precious; these are the days of your salvation; now is the acceptable time for all that must be done; tomorrow may never come. Try to live now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful. Death is the end of everyone and the life of men and women passes quickly away like a shadow. Therefore keep yourself as a stranger here on earth; you are a pilgrim passing through, so keep your heart free and raise it up to God; try to make this place a better place than you found it and feel at ease in your passing through and onwards, for you have no lasting home here but only elsewhere in God. Love your fellow travelers, struggling onwards on their life’s journeys, just as you are on yours…………
Then Jack scrolled down to the next section of the book, written by his friend Mohammad ala Rushdie:
A DANCE IN THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING
By Mohammad ala Rushdie
Dancing in the Darkness: Towards a Oneness with God, Allah
It is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God, Allah, and a loving heart that seeks to be at one with his own. For how would it profit us to know the whole Koran or Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God, Allah? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God, Allah and serve Him alone. Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without a love of God? Indeed a humble peasant who knows God in his heart is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the mind and the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by unspiritual men.
If I knew all things and secrets of the world and had not charity in my heart, what would it profit me before God? Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good for the soul and lend themselves to an empty pride, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is unwise. The more you know and the better you understand, ther more responsibility you bear and the more severely you will be judged, unless you life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather fear whether you have lived worthily in respect to the gifts or the talents given you.
Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble knowledge of self is a sure path to God, Allah than the ardent pursuit of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought to be preferred. Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as willingly as learned and profound ones. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than living well. A man is raised up from earth by two wings: simplicity and purity. There must be simplicity in his intentions and purity in his desires. Simplicity leads to God, and purity embraces and enjoys Him.
God, Allah invokes us to love our fellow man and our fellow woman. But a love of solitude and silence is another part of our love for man and God. First keep peace with yourself; then you will be able to bring peace to others. A love of solitude is to travel by a lonely path that will, at length return us to humanity, just as the evaporation of a drop of water and its ascent to the heavens will end in its return to the eternal sea. No man appears safely before the public eye who has not withdrawn from it into exploration of his own inwardness. No man is safe in speaking unless he knows how to be silent. Very many of the great saints and prophets avoided the company of men whenever possible, and this is no sin against God or against humanity. “As often as I have been amoung men…” relates one sage, “…I have returned less a man.”
God, Allah calls men in different ways. For some, the actives, he calls on them to build the good things of this world through good works and good associations. For some, the contemplatives, he calls on them to explore the inner world. For some, the high mystics, he calls on to journey towards oneness with Himself through close encounters of the inner kind. They also serve who only sit and wait. In the mysterious economy of the spirit they shall also profit mankind.
For some, the contemplative and mystic path leads to the path of the Lover of God, Allah, who transcends self to approach a spiritual unity with God himself. This is the path of the Sufi mystic. This path is not an easy one, nay, it is even a terrible one, costing not less than everything, though yielding everything in return. Those of you who feel this desire, and feel called to this path, do not give up when you feel its arduousness, but labour at it until you heart is filled with the desire for union with God, Allah. It is in the nature of a true lover that the more he loves, the more he longs to love. Press on quickly then along this path, I beg you. Look forward now, and forget backwards, and see what you lack and not what you have: that is the easiest way to get and keep humility. Your whole life now must consist of desire, if you are to make progress on the level of perfection, until your desire is purified beyond desire and your self beyond self.
Do not give up then, but labour at it till you feel your desire and the love of your heart growing. For the first time you travel along this path you will find only a darkeness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing. You do not know what, except that you feel in your will a naked purpose towards God. Whatever you do, this darkness and this Cloud of Unknowing are between you and your God, and hold you back from seeing him clearly by the light of understanding in your reason and from experiencing him in the sweetness of love in your feelings. And so prepare to remain in this darkness as long as you can, always betting for him you love; for if you are ever to feel or see him, so far as is possible in this life, it must always be in this cloud and this darkness.
But so that you shall ot go wrong in this work of contemplation and suppose it to be other than it is, I must tell you a little more about it as I see it. This work does not demand a long time to be fully completed, as some people suppose and some schools instruct. It is the briefest of all imaginable actions. It is neither longer nor shorter than an instant—an instant, which as defined by our scientists as the smallest unit of time, it is so tiny that its small size makes it indivisible beyond our understanding. The instant is the simplest movement of the human mind, and our lives may contain innumerable such instants in the course of a single minute of actual life.
The Scriptures tell that God, Allah created man in his own image, man and woman he created us in his own image. Therefore when we seek within we find an all abiding inner correspondence of our own selves with the God of our origin. Though our intellect and mere consciousness may never fathom it, our soul is exactly adapted to his godhead by the dignity of our creation in his image and likeness. And he by himself alone, and none but he, is fully sufficient, and far more than fully, to satisfy the will and desire of our soul. And by means of this reforming grace our soul is made fully sufficient to grasp him in his entirety by love—God, Allah who is beyond the reach of all created intellectual faculties, such as those of angels and human souls. (I mean beyond the reach of their knowledge and not of their love).
Only see: all rational beings, angels and men and djinn, have within them two principal faculties, one a faculty of knowledge, and the second a faculty of love; and God their maker, is forever beyond the reach of the first of these, the intellectual faculty; but by means of the second, the loving faculty, he can be fully grasped by each individuated being, to such an extent that each single loving soul may, by virtue of love, embrace within itself him who is fully suffiecient (and beyond comparison more than fully) to fill all the soulds and angels and djinn that can ever exist. And this is the unending marvelous miracle of love, which will never be concluded for God.
When I say that we must needs approach reunion with God, Allah in darkness and in a cloud of unknowing, have no fear or trepidation. For nothing can be brighter or enlightening than this approach. For when I say ‘darkness’ I mean an absence of knowing, in the sense that everyting that you do not know, or have forgotten is dark to you; because you cannot see it with your mind’s eye it remains dark until God’s light enters your soul. As you approach nearer to God, as you may do in contemplative meditation or in the whirling dance and dancing consciousness and unconsciousness of the ‘Dervishes’ or the dancing Sufi adepts of our Order, you will find this darkness, this cloud of unknowing is above you in your upward approach to God, and similarly you must place a corresponding cloud of forgetting beneath you. This Cloud of Forgetting must take away everything of your self and of the world you have hitherto experienced. You will thus find yourself beneath the cloud of unknowing between you and God, and above the cloud of forgetting which obscures all you have known before the moment of epiphany. At this moment every thought, even every thought of the very attributes of God, Allah which you may have entertained, his compassion, his love, his omniscience, his omnipresence, will be emptied from your mind, indeed if it remained it would only separate you from God himself. Emptied out unto nothingness, you will be filled by the inner correspondence of your soul far beyond consciousness or mind, by the energies of the source and sustainer of all creation. Such a moment of union may last only the briefest of instants realizable to the human mind but the energies it sets in motion are eternal, and you will be set in motion, dancing to the music of time, which echoes the receding music of the eternal infinite.
We Sufis search for and follow The Tariqah: The Way. The Chinese call this the Dao, or Tao. The tariquah is the mystical journey that leads the Sufi away from the external reality of the world and even religion and toward the divine reality—-the only Reality—-of God, Allah. There are many paths to this reality—including the path of the calender, the dervish, the faqir-–the loss of self and the spinning into unity with God’s essence in divine dance, this dancing in the dark, this dancing in the cloud of unknowing. In the divine ecstasy of this dance there is no subject and no object, now knower and no known—all becomes one. By discarding his own qualities and attributes through a radical act of self-annihilation the Sufi enters fully into the qualities, energies and attributes, if momentarily, of God. The Sufi is drowned in God, so that the Creator and the creation become one sublime energy. This path leads to radical ahadiyyah, or Oneness, expressing tawid, or the Oneness of God.
In the words of our great master, Ibn al-Arabi, —-humanity and the cosmos, as two separate but intimately connected constructions of the Universal Spirit, are like two mirrors reflecting one another. By employing ta’wil, al-Arabi drew from the Quran’s statement that God created humanity “from a single soul” (4:1) to mean that the universe is “as a single being.” For al-Arabi, human beings are thus “an abridgement of the great cosmic book.” and those few individuals who have fully regained and realized their essential oneness with the Divine Being are thus Sufis, or tasawwuf, also called “the Perfect Man” or “the Universal Man.” Spiritus Mundi is thus another name for this Universal Spirit, out of which both humanity and the cosmos are created, each reflecting each other as two mirrors. It is an expression of the “single soul” out of which the Creation derives and thus the essential unity of humanity and the cosmos reflecting the ultimate unity, tawid, of God himself, whither man is, communally and in his individual life and soul, in his encounter with the cosmos, ever tending towards reunion with his origin.
The performance of this work of contemplation and of spiritual union is such that its presence gives a soul the capacity to have it and to feel it; and no soul can have that capacity without it. The capacity for this work is inseperable from the work itself, so that whoever experiences the work has the capacity for it, or else he would not experience it. Do not worry, I beg of you, if this is all you know, but always press further and further forward, just so long as you keep going.
To put it more exactly, let that thing do with you whatever it pleases and lead you wherever it pleases. Let it do the working and you be the material it works upon; just watch it, and let it be. Do not interfere with it as if to help, for fear you should spoil everything. You simply be the wood, and let it be the carpenter; you be the house and let it be the master who lives there; Be blind for the time being, and cut away the desire for knowledge, for it will hinder you more thanhelp you. It is sufficient that you feel yourself pleasingly stirred by a thing that is merged to yourself, a thing you do not know what, and you have no thoughts of anything below God, and your intention is nakedly directed towards God. In the work of divine contemplation no intermediaries are used, nor can be used. All intermediate activities depend upon it, and it depends upon no intermediaries.
I believe that on the Day of Judgment darknesss will be dispelled: God, Allah and all his gifts will be seen clearly, and, some who are now despised and unvalued as common sinners and perhaps some who now are hideous sinners will sit in glory with saints in God’s sight; while some of those who now seem very holy and are honoured by men as if they were angels, and indeed perhaps some of those who have never yet committed sins will sit in misery. From this you can see that no one should be judged by others here in this life for the good or evil that they do. Beauty may lie elsewhere. Actions may be judged as good or evil, but not our fellow men……..
Then, Jack thumbed the first page of the Third Section:
Tikkun Olam: Healing and Restoring the World
By Ami Giyalon
The recent tragedy in Jerusalem has dumfounded the world. The heart of the world gropes in darkness. I headed Shin Bet for years but in the end I gave up looking for a solution in terms of military and police measures. I think the only solution is a movement in good faith, accepting considerable risk, and a spiritual healing between the communities. I focus on the mystical Hebrew concept tikkun olam or “healing or restoring the world” which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility with the Creator to heal, repair and transform the world. Here in Israel we are told that all of our struggle is to build a Jewish state, a Jewish homeland. But that is not what we are building. A state with many Jews in it is not a Jewish state unless it embodies an ethos of love and justice and becomes a living proof that healing and transformation is possible. Israel is not yet a Jewish state in this sense, so we will support the forces that will help it evolve in that direction. To make it possible for Jewish values of love, justice, and peace to triumph inside its own society, and to open the possibility that Israelis could rediscover the deep spiritual truths of Judaism to heal its rifts with other nations, peoples and faiths and thereby to heal and restore our suffering world is our highest calling as a people. All of this is incredibly complex and difficult but it must be done if there is to be any way forward.
The search for a spiritual road forward for humanity is how I came to be involved in promoting the Global Progressive Spiritual Alliance in Israel and Palestine that could be a common spiritual platform for Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists—even secular humanists, materialists, existentialists and communists. After the fall of Communism the aspirational left has had a big hole in their idealism—somewhat filled by the Green-Environmental movement but without the revolutionary commitment. We are all searching for a new path and I have been seeking spiritual roots for the evolution of that new Third Path, between and beyond the two materialisms of Communism and Capitalism—rooted in a common humanism and spirituality linked to a renewed harmony with nature and a responsible stewardship of humanity over the environment of the planet.
Our spiritual progressive movement seeks to create that alternative. We are a global community of people from many faiths and traditions, called together by a common vision of healing and transforming our world. We include in this call both the outer transformation needed to achieve social justice, ecological sanity, and world peace, and the inner healing needed to foster loving relationships, a generous attitude toward the world and toward others unimpeded by the distortions of our egos, or of our magnified egos manifested as narrow nationalisms. Our movement will encourage a habit of generosity and trust, and the ability to respond to the grandeur of creation with awe, a new harmony with nature and the ecological environment on which our sustainable future depends, and a return to a revitalized wonder and radical amazement at our human experience……..
Then growing a bit tired, Jack’s thumb and forefinger flipped and scrolled te iPad to the illustrations, where he found several photographs of Isis, Mohammad, Ami, Jennie and Pari inspecting the ruins from the bomb blast, and another at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Spiritus Mundi Temple. He regarded the many photos of the ruins from the blast, one with Isis in a habit reminiscent of Mother Teresa, encaptioned “Mother Isis.” He thought the day would come when this episode, now so imposing in collective memory, is forgotten, and since mankind seeks an explanation for everything, whether it be true or false, tales and legends would be invented, containing facts to begin with, then moving gradually away from those facts, until they would become pure fantasy.
Then he scrolled down to the end section of the book, in which the final section of Jennie Zheng’s spiritual autobiography “My Xi You Ji: A Personal Journey to the West via the East, or the New Kama Sutra of the Spirit” began with:
Above praṇa, the light
Past light, the crystal
Above crystal, the Jade!
and ended with the passage from the Upanishads as read to her in bed by her lover, soul mate and spiritual partner Pari Kasiwar at their newly founded Ashram at the Dal Lake, the last thing Jack took in before his eyes closed, drowsing above the clouds:
“Sent forth by whom, impelled by whom does the mind proceed on its errand? At whose command does the breath go forth? At whose wish do we utter this speech? What power directs the eye, or the ear?
The teacher replied: ‘It is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of the speech, the breath of the breath, the lingam of the lingam, and the eye of the eye…
The eye does not go thither, nor speech, nor mind. We do not know it, we do not understand it, how can one teach it. It is other than the known; it is also above the unknown………”
(Kena Upanishad I.1-4)
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