Interfaith

Upon close examination, the dynamics, experiences, and knowings within world religions, especially within mysticism across faiths and cultures, present surprising similarities. Yet like clear water in different colored glasses or clear light through stained glass windows, each religion has its own perspectives and also its own areas of greater interest and expertise. This area of our website is offered as a door into that rainbow country.

Handouts and Writings

In every time and place there are those who step off the ordinary road of life to join the quest for Ultimate Truth. Wherever they occur, the steps and stages on this Way of the Seeker are remarkably similar. Though there’s no end to the variety of individual experiences along this journey, some of its most common landmarks and signposts are elucidated here.

Written or spoken over a period between the mid-1800s and the late 1970s, these four brief statements from Germany, India, England, and the United States take us deep into the heart and structure of mystical experience. Our guides are writers, mystics, or both: Herman Hesse, Sri Ramakrishna, Aldous Huxley, and my own teacher, Lex Hixon, also known as Shaykh Nur al-Jerrahi.

World religions can be seen as spokes radiating from a central core of undifferentiated Divine Essence (called by different names in different traditions) toward a periphery which represents a kind of outer darkness of ignorance and superficiality. Perhaps oddly from the physical point of view, in matters of consciousness, what is deepest is also highest. Join the exploration!

A brief introduction to a complex, broad-brush, and wide-ranging chart of mystical concepts across religions, assembled over many years by an amateur: that is, one who pursues a subject for the love of it. Shared concepts include ordinary life as a state of illusion, seven increasingly subtle levels of existence, rewards and punishments for good and evil actions, and the possibility of temporary or permanent union with the Source of everything. People from different countries and cultures will call a mountain by different names and describe it differently. Yet it always remains a mountain.

Three hungry friends from different countries were buying lunch at the marketplace. “We should get anghur,” said the Persian. “No, let’s buy uzum!” said the Turk. “You’re both wrong, we should get ‘anab!” said their Arab friend. A wise person offered to buy them something that would satisfy them all. Their trust was rewarded: the man returned with grapes, the fruit they had all been asking for under different names. In the same way, most of the deep concepts of mysticism are shared across cultures and religions under different names and differently emphasized. Agreement is not complete, yet it is far greater than most people imagine.

A lifetime is too short to understand the Qur’an, which says of itself that if all the oceans were ink and all the trees were pens, they could never come to the end of its meanings. Here, though, is a door into some of its aspects: initial shock, translation and translations, western versus eastern approaches, a glimpse of its power and beauty, and the strange way it sometimes adjusts itself to the individual listening or reading. Ya Fattah! May this, one of the world’s great holy books, open itself to you!

The Spaces in Between

A Sip from the Fatiha

A Sip from the Fatiha

Al-Fatiha - The Opening Door, the Opening Chapter, the Door to All That Is, to All Mysteries and Subtleties (With apologies for the necessary but breathless italics, exclamation points, parentheses, and multiple question marks. The whole multiverse is breathless,...

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Internet Passwords and the Judgment Day

Internet Passwords and the Judgment Day

The name of this blog is "The Spaces in Between", and that's the name of everything I do, really. The Sufi stuff, the Intercultural Relations masters degree, even the Irish music, which draws strength from what seems like another lifetime -- it's all about border...

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“La Ilaha illah-Llah” – You Can Take it Two Ways

“La Ilaha illah-Llah” – You Can Take it Two Ways

This central statement of Islam, the primary tenet which forms half the shahada, can be taken in two ways which are opposite and can lead to diametrically opposed behaviors. I'm writing here to defend one interpretation and cast doubt upon the other. Literally, the...

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Love Remains:  Response to Sufi Mosque Massacre in Egypt

Love Remains: Response to Sufi Mosque Massacre in Egypt

Over three hundred Sufis dead in Egypt, killed while praying in their mosque or trying to escape. I thought a while about how to respond, besides the same old, "This is not Islam, this is not what Islam teaches." Suddenly I wrote -- and it stayed in the large Facebook...

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Bridging a Gap

Bridging a Gap

In the 1970's, there was a seemingly unbridgeable canyon between the religion of Islam and western universalist Sufism: the successors of Hazrat Inayat Khan, and the Dances of Universal Peace. As an early convert to Islam from that generation of seekers, I experienced...

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Cowboys and Indians

Cowboys and Indians

"You know, when (we) played cowboys and Indians with our friends, I always wanted to be a cowboy. I was in junior high when I realized a guy could be a cowboy and an Indian at the same time." - an Indian character in Anne Hillerman's Rock with Wings Okay, cut from...

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Musings

Musings

Excerpts from the Operating Manual for Human Beings CONDUITS We, all of us, are designed to be conduits of Divine Energy, which is always available, and which flows through us as creativity, insight, energy, and inspiration to be poured out into the world. But the...

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