Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
I am delighted to share the next in our Monk in the World Video Podcast series – morning and evening prayer exploring the principle of Sabbath. Sabbath is a contemplative practice found in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is also at the heart of a yoga practice when we rest into “corpse pose” at the end and allow everything to integrate. Cultivating this rhythm of rest in our lives is part of our commitment to relishing joy.
The following reflection is excerpted from Imam Jamal Rahman’s recent co-authored book The Teachers of Spiritual Wisdom: Gaining Perspective on Life’s Perplexing Questions published by Wipf and Stock
Sufis rhapsodize over this astonishing revelation that came to the Prophet Muhammad in a dream:“I was a secret Treasure and I longed to be know.
And so I created you, and the worlds, visible and invisible.”
Cosmically encoded within us is a deep and mysterious longing to know and connect with our Creator. Within every desire for anything in our lives is a yearning for our Beloved. The inexplicable unease we experience in our life even when our wants are fulfilled is expressed in the utterance of the beloved 8th century female Islamic saint Rabia: “There is a disease in my breast no doctor can cure; only union with the Friend can cure this.”
The Qur’an says that our Creator is within and without. To connect with Allah inside of us, we have to do the essential inner work of evolving into the fullness of our being by removing the veils of our ego so that we move closer to our higher self. This work is critical. Sufi teachers explain with a metaphor: A benevolent King sends you to a faraway country with a specific task. You go there and do many beautiful things but not that one specific task. Upon your return, can you say that you have attained?
To bond with Divinity outside of us, we experience the joy of serving God’s creation. We strive, in the words of the 13th century sage Rumi to be a “lamp, lifeboat or ladder” to others. The 20th century Indian poet Tagore wrote, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy; I awoke and found that life was service; I served and lo! Service was joy!”
May the words of the Prophet Muhammad splash in your heart: “When you arrived here, everyone was laughing and smiling but you were crying and weeping. Live such a life that when you depart, everyone is crying and weeping but you are laughing and smiling.”
Be sure to join us next Saturday, November 6th when we joyfully welcome Jamal. He will be leading us in a mini-retreat on the Sufi mystics. If Rumi and Hafiz make your heart tremble with joyful knowing – or you long to cultivate that kind of desire for the Beloved in your life – you will definitely want to join us.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE