"When the music of union begins to play,
O destiny of a million lifetimes,
come and learn its song!"
- Rumi, as translated by Jonathan Star
June 3, 2005
Silence is round me, wideness ineffable;
White birds on the ocean diving and wandering;
A soundless sea on a voiceless heaven,
Azure on azure, is mutely gazing.
Identified with silence and boundlessness
My spirit widens clasping the universe
Till all that seemed becomes the Real,
One in a mighty and single vastness.
Someone broods there nameless and bodiless,
Conscious and lonely, deathless and infinite,
And, soul in a still eternal rapture,
Gathers all things to his heart for ever.
- Sri Aurobindo
THIS WEEK'S website: www.soundfeelings.com. Sound Feelings offers, among other products, music composed specifically for various emotional and physical weaknesses. Some piano compositions help you release pain and anger. Others were composed for those who struggle with eating disorders, self- esteem problems, fear, and physical illnesses, among many others. Browse this site when you have more than one or two minutes to spare. It's worth the time.
Sound Feelings is offering a 15% discount on all products purchased through August 27 to subscribers of my newsletter. When you reach the checkout process, you'll be asked for a code to receive the discount. Simply type in "maryblye1."
My next series of classes will take place the first three Wednesday evenings at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas. I'll be speaking on the mystical paths of Judaism, Sufism and Christianity. For more information, please see my website (www.maryblyehowe.com), click on ‘events', and scan down the center of the page.
My most recent article for Beliefnet.com covers my past celebrations of Shavuot, my plans for this year, and the seven weeks of spiritual reflections leading up to this holiday. Check it out on the Judaism page around June 9th or 10th.
Sign up now!! Wednesday, August 17 - Sunday, August 21: WRITER'S RETREAT in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. If you want to spend time in guided self-reflection, or if you want to hone your writing for publication, this retreat is for you. Click on ‘classes' on my website for details.
A new section has been added to my website for discussion about various topics. Please participate! This week's discussion focuses on the following subject: "Mysticism and Engagement with the World." To get in on the dicussion, read more in the following "Get Real" column, then click on "discussion" on my website.
Recently I attended a coffeehouse discussion that my friend, Judie Arkow, regularly hosts. Although many of Judie's coffeehouses draws an interfaith crowd, this particular evening's group consisted mostly of Jews. My friend, Les Glickman, brought up a fascinating topic (mysticism and engagement with the world), and before I knew it, several of us had spent the entire evening discussing it.
I was once again reminded of one of the many reasons I'm so drawn to Judaism: all of us had different opinions on the subject, we ended the evening with more questions than answers, and our discussions provoked thought, rather than tempers and adamant declarations of "this is the way it IS." In Judaism, endless intelligent questions are raised (have you ever even GLANCED at the Talmud??), these questions are valued more than answers, and talks and studies never end with any kind of dogma. I always leave with a heart and mind more open to new ideas and experiences, with a fresh sense of wonder at the human mind (and the human being!), and with an amazement over the endless imaginative and diverse approach to spirituality within Judaism.
This particular evening my friend Les Glickman opened our discussion with a confession that he had a problem with mysticism. "It seems as if mysticism takes you out of the real world," he said. "Some mystics don't feel a responsibility, for instance, to literally take food to the hungry, or to work in tangible ways towards social justice.
Initially, I disagreed. "Mystical experiences bring you back to the world more engaged in social justice issues," I said.
Mo had another perspective. "Some people feel that their purpose in life is to meditate, to grow more intimately connected to the Divine, and to bring healing to the world through prayer," she said.
That got me feeling kind of wishy-washy. Like Les, I'm turned off by people who neglect the nitty-gritty work that needs to be done in the world. I tend to believe that mystical experiences should not only make us feel more loving and kind, but that they should inspire us to act on our feelings by becoming more involved with
those who are hurting and needy.
"And yet," I said, "meditation is action. When we're changed, we help others change. And mystics believe that the very atmosphere is changed and spiritually charged through meditation. "Besides," I added, "who are we to judge what someone else's purpose is in life."
Les felt that it's not only OK to judge, it's good. If someone needs help and no one is helping them, we should feel comfortable in judging that this is a wrong way to act.
Mo gently and politely stood her ground. Different people are called and gifted for different tasks in life, some to a life of asceticism or spiritual contemplation, others to social action.
Personally, this confused the hell out of me, as conversations always do when everyone has a good point. I remembered a class once in which I was given a topic to write about and, as soon as I saw the topic, knew exactly how I'd write the essay. I'd already been a professional writer for several years, and outlines of articles and essays could quickly and easily take shape in my mind.
The catch was, I had to read several articles taking opposing positions on the subject before I began writing, and by the time I'd finished reading, I didn't have the slightest idea what I believed any longer. I wrote the essay, floundering this way and that, not making a persuasive argument (which the assignment required), and getting, let's just say, way below an A+ for the paper. My thinking seems to constantly mirror that of Tevye's on Fiddler on the Roof. I'm adamant about a subject until someone gives me another perspective, then I'm continually caught in a cycle: "On the other hand... yes, but on the other hand... of course, on the other hand..."
Which is where I am right now on the subject of mystical/spiritual contemplation versus active, tangible, practical engagement with social justice issues and other work within our world.
My challenge to you is: get in on this discussion! Go to my website - www.maryblyehowe.com - click on ‘discussion', find the topic, "mysticism and engagement with the world", and tell us what you think.
THIS NEWSLETTER is sent every other Friday around noon, allowing you the leisure of the weekend to look it over. Please remember: readers of this newsletter consist of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sufis, Buddhists, and others, and I'll try to represent the
mystical/spiritual aspects of all of these.
IF THIS NEWSLETTER uplifted your heart and drew you
closer to the Divine, please forward it to others who
might enjoy it. Thank you!
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