Thursday, January 30, 2014

Immortal Diamond

A Short Reflection on a Beloved Poet:

Beauty (and much more) is immortal to certain poets and mystics -- who see the sparkling diamond of the divine in us ALL underneath all that separates us from one another and the rest of creation.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, poet and mystic, wrote/writes for us still this day that the world is shaped by “the ONE whose beauty is past change.”

His poems use language in a pre-cognitive way -- sensing before looking for patterns we can count on -- noticing the gems all around him in fresh ways and reflecting them back as if to an Artist-Friend. He helps us see as well as Practice the Presence -- the REAL Presence without whom little would be as beautiful and lasting.

Even a bird’s beauty stirs his heart. Even in newly-tilled fields "gold-vermillion" shines. “my life is determined by ... the details of the day.” he says and as we leave out some of his more theological language and that of his interpreters we can find so much of the universal to give us new, fresh experiences with our own lives.

Even beyond this honed vision is a better perhaps truer way to see each our own deepest being?

"...This Jack, joke, poor potsherd,‘ patch, matchwood, immortal diamond" is a line from one of GMH's poems.

Whoever we are -- however unrecognized or unformed -- wherever we find ourselves in this created world) perhaps our truest self IS (each of us--ALL of us) IMMORTAL DIAMOND?

IF so, how might we also see one another?

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Religion of Compassion?

A Religion of Compassion: A Letter to Pope Francis
by Matthew Fox
July 28, 2013

Will Pope Francis set the Catholic Church against the powers of injustice in our world today?

I have taken note of the fact that you and Rabbi Abraham Skorka in Argentina have become good friends; he speaks highly of you to the press. I have enjoyed reading your dialogs with him and I commend you for learning and listening from him. This pleases me very much because as we both know anti-Semitism has haunted Christian history since its earliest days and it built up over the centuries, spurred on by the sixteenth century pope Paul IV who invented the ghetto for Jews in Rome. It became even more fierce and unchecked with the horrors of Hitler’s crusade and fascism in general has always dined on that sordid, anti-Semitic legacy. As we both know, Jesus and his earliest followers were Jewish, so surely church renewal has something essential to do with embracing and celebrating a Jewish consciousness and with undoing our ignorance of, and what is sometimes contempt for, Jesus’ lineage.

Recent scholarship on Pope Pius XI reveals how he asked a North American Jesuit, Father John LaFarge, who had written about racism in America, to draft an encyclical on the evil of fascism. LaFarge unfortunately sent his document first to his Superior General, Father Wlodimir Ledochowski, who it turns out held fascist sympathies and did not pass it on to the pope. Eventually he did release it but the whole process was slowed down and Pope Pius XI died the night before he was to deliver an anti-fascist speech and before he published his anti-fascist encyclical. (Cardinal Eugene Tisserant of France, who was the pope’s best friend, wrote in his diary that the pope had been murdered.) The next pope, Pius XII, as we know, never wrote an encyclical condemning fascism. How much history might have been changed—how possible is it that Pius XI’s encyclical might have prevented Hitler’s and Mussolini’s advances had it been promulgated—we will never know.

I too have been blessed by knowing and working with rabbis including Rabbis Zalman Schachter (founder of the Jewish Renewal movement), Arthur Waskow, Michael Lerner (editor of Tikkun), Rami Shapiro, and others. But I especially want to invoke in this subject of religious renewal the brilliant spirit and solid analysis of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who wrote so many books of depth and beauty including the classic work, The Prophets. He not only composed that scholarly volume, he also lived it. He literally walked his talk when he marched with Martin Luther King at Selma to protest racism and segregation and he was vilified by his own Jewish community for doing so because they felt his public presence on behalf of black people would arouse still more anti-Semitism. He marched anyway and when his ten year old daughter asked him what it was like marching amidst the dangers at Selma he replied: “I felt my feet were praying.”

Find the rest of the article GO and find: "A Religion of Compassion, a Letter to Pope Francis"

Please note: This article is an exclusive excerpt from Matthew Fox’s new book, Letters to Pope Francis: Rebuilding a Church with Justice and Compassion (South Orange, NJ: LevelFiveMedia, 2013). Reprinted with permission of LevelFiveMedia, all rights reserved. This selection comes from Chapter Two, “Why Religion is in Decline: Wisdom from Rabbi Heschel” (pp. 31-41).

Matthew Fox is a spiritual theologian and author of more than thirty books, including Christian Mystics and The Hidden Spirituality of Men. He is a visiting scholar with the Academy of the Love of Learning and his web page is

Credit: Creative Commons/Catholic Church England and Wales.
The photo was found at TIKKUN magazine

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Eid Mubarak to our Precious Friends/Readers (who've been fasting)

-- A time for great celebration, peace and thankfulness to our Creator

We who are not Muslim have SO much to learn from our devout brothers and sisters.

Detroit Free Press food writer on 8 August 2013 (on Detroit mother and daughter cooking for Eid)

A Nigerian leader for peace

Reuters photo of Palestinian women preparing traditional food for ending of Ramadan
Internet Cache

Morning Prayer end of Ramadan AFP - Getty Images

Notice both on this blogsite (on behalf of other Ramzan/Ramadan fasts and breaking of fasts) as well as yesterday and today around the world such as a that faithful are including one another in peace as fasting draws to a close and and eating, celebration, community and service unite many. (I have also several earlier posts here in this site such as Bethlemem Christians Fast with Muslims in Bethlehem under August 2010 in archives.

There is no religion or race larger than the HUMAN RACE and no family bigger than the FAMILY OF GOD

Here are a few links which compel similar discussions of our common ground (the following are from - Pakistan where floods have added quite a lot of difficulty to Eid in Karachi. Prayers for our friends there!):

My Name is Human By ARIEB AZHAR(The comments here are as interesting as the article.)

Children of Lesser Gods By NIAZ MURTAZA (newer than the article above -- keep going back to see comments on his site Niaz Murtaza )

The following wise sayings perhaps among the most beautiful of any devout commemorations. To me, they sum up many of the reasons for our spiritual fasts and celebrations.

The Fast of Ramadan - The Inner Heart Blossoms:
"The real fast is the blossoming of the inner heart." — M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

There wouldn’t be such a thing as counterfeit gold if there were no real gold somewhere.

-–Sufi Proverb

If you make intense supplication
and the timing of the answer is delayed,
do not despair of it.
His reply to you is guaranteed;
but in the way He chooses,
not the way you choose,
and at the moment He desires,
not the moment you desire.

Give yourself a rest from managing!
When Someone Else is doing it for you,
don’t you start doing it for yourself!

Actions are merely propped-up shapes.
Their life-breath is the presence of the secret of sincerity in them.

A feeling of discouragement when you slip up
is a sure sign that you put your faith in deeds.

Aspiration which rushes on ahead
cannot break through the walls of destiny.

(the above are all from Ibn Ata’llah

(Due to lack of time and place to perfect this simple post, I plan to add additional links, topics and thoughts later in the comments section. I encourage readers to do the same here on this site: just add a thought now below under comments. Thanx for coming by.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

We are all made from one blood

During a recent devotional time with my bedfast Mother I was startled by this bit of scripture from the New Testament

"God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth."  Acts 17: 26 

Shortly thereafter, in a book called "Agape Love" by chance, I found the same reflection a Persian Poet:

"The descendents of Adam are members of one body, for from the moment of Creation they are made of a single substance.

If the hands of fate causes pain in a single member, the other members will lose their tranquility and peace.

If thou are not saddened by the affliction of others, thou are not worthy to be called human.

Saadi, Thirteenth-Century Persian Poet (Trans. S. H. Nasr)

(See more translations below)

The reflection following the quote from Acts, spoke of a conversations between a writer and her 7-year-old friend who was of a beautiful color of brown.  He was wondering why so many Bible-story books indicated in paintings that Adam and Eve were white.  This led the writer to a sense of heart-sickness  and to let the little friend know that all people have their roots in the One Creator God and therefore we are all equal. 

The writer's reflection continued with the following: No race nor ethnicity is superior or inferior to another.  He gives to all life and breath. 

"Every life has been created, God's handiwork displayed:  When we cherish His creation, we value what He's made."


I found the following via the internet search.  You may also want to look at:

The most famous aphorism of Saadi

Saadi is well known for his aphorisms, the most famous of which, Bani Adam, in a delicate way shows the essence of Ubuntu and calls for breaking all barriers between the human beings:

Iranian Poetry 'Bani Adam' Inscribed On United Nations Building Entrance
بنى آدم اعضای یک پیکرند
که در آفرینش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار
دگر عضوها را نماند قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی
نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی
The poem is translated by A.Marandi as:
Humans are peers of a united race,
Thus in creation, share the same base.
If one is affected with pain,
Others share the faith of same.
When you are indifferent to this pain,
You shall not earn the Humans' name.
Also translated by M. Aryanpoor as:
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you've no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain!
by H. Vahid Dastjerdi as:
Adam's sons are body limbs, to say;
For they're created of the same clay.
Should one organ be troubled by pain,
Others would suffer severe strain.
Thou, careless of people's suffering,
Deserve not the name, "human being".
and the last translation by Dr. Iraj Bashiri:
Of One Essence is the Human Race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base.
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.
The Unconcern'd with Others' Plight,
Are but Brutes with Human Face.
The translations above are attempts to preserve the rhyme scheme of the original while translating into English, but may distort the meaning. What follows is an attempt at a more literal translation of the original Persian:
"Humans (children of Adam) are inherent parts (or more literally, limbs) of one body,
and are from the same essence in their creation.
When the conditions of the time hurts one of these parts,
other parts will be disturbed.
If you are indifferent about the misery of others,
it may not be appropriate to call you a human being."

How sad that even this poet himself was so abused by Christians during the Crusades even without any
cause yet did not seek revenge.  He himself understood so much more clearly than so many from a Christian background today the wisdom taught in our own New Testament.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Peaceful Co-Existence Inside and Outside Family


Even if you don't have diverse neighbors and friends, just a little perusing inside a few family magazines and sites makes so clear how much we all have in common and how we can help our children to be true to themselves and still respect others.

Also see the current issue of the long-standing American Magaine, "Parenting" for the following.  I applaud "Parenting" magazine for publishing this article and the author, Dr. Aliya Hasan for writing the same: 

Some crucial points are made in the article above on raising children with gentleness, love and forgiveness.  At the same time, there may be one or two assumptions about South Asia.  From what I've been learning about Pakistan and Bangladeshi for example -- there are plenty of amazing families and family teachings on mercy and love just like everywhere else.

Maybe you'll add your own sites, references and opinions on family?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Make of yourself a pearl

Continuing with the same theme of the last two posts...The following is from  "The Second Birth"  p. 36 pb edition "Perfume of the Desert"

...Think of an oyster you fish out of the sea

That hasn't given birth to a pearl ---

What use is it? Who wants to buy it?

Its value will not appear to any eyes,

However experienced they may be.

You must, then, give birth to yourself a second time

Like silver and gold that are born from earth

And free yourself from all danger

And live in peace under God's protection...

When the soil of the mine is thrown in the furnace

It melts and transmutes and becomes precious.

You, too, if you are a real seeker; must melt away

Through the passion of the fire of love

In the furnace of absolute sincerity.

How else can you free yourself from the veils

Of your existence and become drunk on God?

...So you can know the secret of Union.

Dedicate your soul to the path of Reality

So you can receive the help and teaching of God.


Just a few notes:

The body everywhere sometimes seems to reign supreme.

Here in California there are the glamorous ones of every size, age and gender. Their build
and clothes dazzle every minute.  I marvel that the young everywhere have a chance to find
out who they REALLY are with such temptation on every hand.  I admire those who are able
to pursue a deeper path. The most beautiful persons who walk about appear pleasing without
seeking rather desperate attention -- even conventionally so.

Then there are the super-athletes here who's body astounds. In forested areas, there are the
mountain bikers.  In California, there are the "spinners", cyclists and walkers. Their aloneness or comraderie feels quite healthy to a point.  Of course, there is superb inspiration concerning health and discipline with much of this.  Yet by itself this too is limited.

Of course the TV, FaceBook and other media are full of bodies all over the world.

Yet of what value and good is just the body by itself alone?  All too soon there's not much
anyone can do to slow down time's mark.  Or by some hard work and miracle, a few are
able to do so, of what good is a perfect body not only at the end or along the way home?

The body is a necessary and beautiful part of life.  Yet it is only a part of the whole.

I love this poem of which part is above because just about anyone in their "right mind" can
do something about this secret -- no matter how limited their means nor how imperfect their body.
Finally, the pay off is huge:  receiving help and teaching from the Divine.  What could be more
important than that?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pearls and Poultices

A Teaching Story from Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut  (A highly recommended book -- a perfect gift from a friend who takes such a story as the following to heart.)

Here's a story by Junayd titled "The Pearl."

"Shibli sought out Junayd as a teacher and said to him, 'Many people have informed me that you are a supreme expert on the pearls of awakening and divine wisdom. Either give me one of these pearls or sell one to me.'

"Junayd smiled. 'If I sell you one, you won't be able to pay the price; if I give you one, coming by it so easily will drive you to undervalue it. Do like me; dive headfirst into the Sea. If you wait patiently, you will obtain your Pearl.' "

To Practice: Dive deeper into your spiritual practice and watch for a Pearl.


To  add more layers to the metaphor above, sometimes waiting for the gift of the Pearl may take time no matter how prepared we may be.  So, what about rejoicing with the little "gifts" along the way -- which are also often greater than we may notice at the time.  In fact these may be JUST what we or a loved one may need most.

See Steinbeck's The Pearl.  Here's the excerpt:

The baby, having been cured by the poultice of seaweed, the gift of the sea, does not need the doctor, but Juana does not fully appreciate the power of the sea, and hopes for a pearl so that they can pay the doctor to treat him. To satisfy their misguided understanding of what is best for their child and for their family, Kino violently cuts into the flesh of the oyster, making its "lip-like flesh...(writhe) and...subside)", and takes the pearl, in his ignorance and greed destroying the natural order between the land and the sea (Chapter 2).