There is a point past where approaching a certain way becomes outdated. As time goes on societies change people change, means of expression change as well. More importantly the science of the day changes. As as a scientist (junior scientist as I only have a masters) I feel that the science of the day should not conflict with the spiritual religious and mystical traditions one is practicing.
I love science. Ernest Nagel has said of science that it seek to understand and formulate in general terms the conditions under which events occur. As we get more and more data, do more and more experiments we refine what we know, it is a beautiful process to slowly but surely extend the boundaries of what we know. As a mystic I love that through my practice I can go over the boundaries of what is known. Whether in the dead of silence or in the tender caress of sound , I can in less than a moments notice be completely unaware of my own being but still “there”. But there is a very important requirement for that to happen.
Keeping Approaches to Spirituality Fresh
I quote the following from Muhammad Asad formerly known as Leopold Weiss. [He was an Austrian Polish Jew who converted to Islam, and a 20th century journalist, traveler, writer, social critic, linguist, thinker, reformer, diplomat, political theorist, translator and scholar. Asad was one of the 20th century's most influential European Muslims.]
I quote the following because it :
- Points to an importance responsibility all serious practitioners of spiritual traditions at least I feel should take seriously
- Gives us a historical cultural example of what I intend to talk about which can be applied to other traditions
“Every age requires a new approach to the Qur’an for the simple reason that the Quran is made for all ages. It is our duty to look for deeper meanings in the Quran in order to increase our knowledge and experience. The Quran wants your intellect to be always active and trying to approach the message of God. God himself dedicated this book to people who think.”
Again I feel this can be applied to any and every tradition, a Sufi, Christian Mystic, Jew mystic, Buddhist monk they all each age have to look for deeper applicable meanings of their traditions for the current time. I personally feel this is superbly important given our global society now.
Nothing more tells me of the global society as the effects of the Arab Spring which spread out in many directions. No longer can any country or ideology claim to influence just a select group of people given the heightened levels of cultural mixing and communication through personal travel as well as the Internet.
There is a significant part, talking from the place of my own experience, of the mystical experience which happen beyond the place of what we understand space and time to be. Yet we are still people, we are still members of particular cultures which approach things in a unique way.
It is the particular experience of the Guide to take the teaching of whatever path and help the student live it in a way that is germane with modern life. I think this adaptation, this fine tuning one cannot get from books. I tried when i was younger to go by what I read but it wasn’t sufficient. Many of the books I came across were translation of old texts, recapitulation of old techniques but none of them had the living element necessary through experiential contact with the root of the experience.
One can take up the practice of remembrance by oneself but without deeper knowledge of the tradition and one’s deeper self it is near impossible to get the same results as if one i guided to a certain practice that is adapted for one’s time and one’s unique constitution.
Serious Work to Be Done
It’s rather easy from the literature to imagine that mysticism is just the journey through states but there is more than that. There is character refinement, there is service to others which can take on many shapes and forms there is a constant communion on an interior plain between the practicing members that is alive.
There is an interesting spiritual concept/experience called egregore meaning. To save you from my rambling I have taken the following from Wiki
Egregore is an occult concept representing a “thoughtform” or “collective group mind”, an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people.
This may seems like hogwash but this is a very important experience I feel for some people on the way. Michaela Ozelsel in her book Forty Days: The Diary of a Traditional Solitary Sufi Retreat talks about the idea of Morphic Resonance which for those of you with a scientific or sort a of psychological/sociological bent might find interesting. I am going to leave you a quote from this short essay below and will continue this in part two but I think it is important to realize that a tradition is a dynamic living thing that adapts and changes with the times while at all time capitalizing on past changes and approaches. There is a constant dialogue between the past and the present in a living tradition and much work has to be done to by each participant of each tradition.
Morphic fields embrace and include the individuals withing them, as magnetic field embrace and include the particles of iron which they organize into characteristic patterns. The individual insects are within the social morphic field. From this point of view, trying to understand the social morphic field from the basis of behavior of isolated insects would be just as impossible as trying to understand the magnetic fields by taking the iron filling out of it and studying their mechanical properties in isolation. . .
Ina similar way, social morphic fields can be thought of as coordinating … all patterns of social organisation…. The members of a traditional tribe for instance, are included within the social field of the tribe and the field of its cultural patterns. These fields have a life of their own, and give the tribe its habitual patterns of organization, maintained by self-resonance with the tribe itself in the past. Thus the field of the tribe includes not just its living members, but its past members as well. And indeed, all over the world the invisible presence of the ancestors in the life of the traditional social groups is explicitly recognized.
- Other Sufism for Western Seekers By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- The unknown face of Rumi – Sufism and Spiritual Consumerism in the West (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- SUFISM: Seeking a Spiritual Guide (thinkaloudtoday.wordpress.com)
- What should one do, Turn a blind eye ? – At what point is Spirituality more than Reading books? (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Henry Corbin’s SPIRITUAL EXEGESIS OF THE QURAN (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Spirituality and Sexuality (2) taken from Forty Days: The Diary of a Traditional Solitary Sufi Retreatby Micahela Ozelsel (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Punishment and Blasphemy in The Abrahamic Religions. (transremaxculver.wordpress.com)
- The unknown face of Rumi – Sufism and Spiritual Consumerism in the West 3 (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Spirituality and Sexuality taken from Forty Days: The Diary of a Traditional Solitary Sufi Retreatby Micahela Ozelsel (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- How Many Sufis Are There in Islam? by Stephen Schwartz (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- The unknown face of Rumi – Sufism and Spiritual Consumerism in the West 2 (mycaravanofdreams.com)