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 Are We Missing the Point? Reviving the Lost Spirituality

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Obedient Angel
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Join date : 2011-04-30
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PostSubject: Are We Missing the Point? Reviving the Lost Spirituality   Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:11 am



Many spiritually inclined people, and especially those from a Muslim background, face a double alienation in today’s world. On the one hand, they are alienated from the mad rush of contemporary society with its commercialization, its ugliness, its pandering to the ego, and its lack of meaning. On the other hand, they are equally alienated from various expressions of Islam that fail to inspire them. Too often, the teachings of Islam as they are mostly presented in our sources seem dry, dogmatic, and one-dimensional.

Whereas a life absorbed in acquiring material gains and ego satisfactions leads first to superficial pleasure, in the end it only leads to dissipation and spiritual loss. And a life molded by pre-packaged religious beliefs, especially those that are poorly adapted to contemporary realities, leads to a spiritual dead-end.

In some cases, these Muslims may turn to other spiritual traditions where there seems to be a more explicit spirituality, including various New Age teachings, Buddhism, and techniques like yoga, tai chi, chi gong.

Today we are challenged by the acceleration of time, a glut of impressions and information, the commodification and depersonalization of everyday life. We are drifting toward a society where increasingly it’s every man or woman for himself. And yet the longing and thirst for spiritual meaning only increases.

The traditional support systems for spiritual development have been greatly weakened in the modern world, but the essential knowledge for the education of the heart still exists. Every human being has a capacity to directly experience the Divine. No other achievement can substitute for it, and nothing less will ultimately satisfy the heart.

The Path we are talking about proposes that the purpose of existence is to know and love God, and to love each other within God. If we accept this proposition, then the most essential education is the education of the heart.

The prevailing culture of consumerism, mass entertainment, materialism and neurotic individualism makes it extremely difficult to connect with our hearts.

In the spiritual journey, the soul is transformed through levels of understanding and increasing love. Transformation is a key word. The transformation of the human being is the essence of spirituality and of human life itself. What satisfaction can there be in life if we are not learning, increasing our understanding and our capacity for love?

There are two very essential points to understand.

Why is it that human beings, even those who claim to follow one of the heavenly religions, too often remain unchanged, unable to live up to their hopes, unable to consistently live the life they know is best? Endless preaching, sermonizing, and moralizing accomplishes little if we fail to understand the ways in which human beings are asleep and what is needed to wake up, if we fail to understand the ESSENCE, the SPIRITUAL ASPECT OF THE 'RITUALS'. Being one with a sound heart is much more than the mere following of a list of do's and do nots without understanding the underlying wisdom and spiritual aspect behind them. Merely doing so haradens the heart and stifles the soul.

We can be asleep in an ego-driven materialistic life, but do we understand how we can also be asleep in a religious practice that fails to understand the purpose of religion?

Religion warns us against idolatry, false gods, and turning our backs on what is truly holy. This could describe people who become preoccupied with externals, who value appearance over reality, who worship for superficial reasons or for the sake of their egos.

Religious Law is necessary for establishing limits, for preventing harm and injustice, and for codifying religious practice. But knowledge of the Law does not necessarily open the heart. The Law may prevent us from doing harm but what will actually make us better people?

The Path of the Heart follows a map described in the Holy Qur’an. The Qur’anic revelation describes the nature of the human being, the nature of the Absolute, and finally the purpose of existence, which is essentially to know and love God.

Between the state of the individual human ego and the Absolute there seems to be a huge gap. The Qur’an also describes human beings who are less aware than cattle. The prevailing culture of consumerism, mass entertainment, materialism and neurotic individualism makes it extremely difficult to connect with God.

Fortunately, every human being has a capacity to bridge this gap and the capacity can be described with words like presence, heart awareness, or to use traditional terms, taqwa (or God-consciousness), hudhur (presence), and fostering spirituality.

This knowledge brings a new understanding of the rituals and practices that are the foundation of the religion. Salaah comes to be understood as an ideal method for developing presence and experiencing surrender with the whole of the body, emotions, mind, and spiritual faculties. Ablutions cleanse not only the physical body but the heart. And so the spiritual practices that come down to us through the tradition begin to be understood as methods for changing ourselves, and this means nothing less than increasing the capacity of our being.

The challenge is within ourselves. The enemy, so to speak, is not outside, but it is within ourselves. Our greatest enemy is an aspect of ourselves that numbs us and justifies our heedlessness, compromises our highest values, or simply forgets, again and again. And just as an athlete’s game is improved by playing with people whose skills are highly developed, so, too, in spirituality, we are inspired and matured through association with people who have Allah as the centre of their lives, people with sound hearts.

The hero of our story is Allah. The hope is because of Allah. The power is with Allah. And the love is from Allah to us.
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