I am continually amazed as I learn about how other cultures view themselves across time and how similar their hopes, fears and dreams are to my own and my generation’s. There is not much new under the sun it seems. Every generation grapples with its mortality and shares its hopes and fears to try to provide some illumination or warning perhaps to the generations to come.
I have hopes and fears too. I set them aside in my life and I have accepted my place in a world and reality much bigger than the one I can sense. Much bigger than myself. I know I am limited in my awareness, so I assume I know nothing fully. I accept and know that my awareness stretches beyond my senses in ways I can not consciously understand. That makes life mysterious and mystical for me, which I need. So I am not totally agnostic, nor do I totally believe or know anything. I am a swirling mix of sense, memory, emotion, mind, heart and something more I can’t put my finger on.
Across the eons I see a golden thread that binds our religions, myths and traditions together. It is a message of hope, love, acceptance and embracing of one another in our difference. It challenges you to look beneath the surface of things and to be ever mindful of the intention you use to manifest these hopes, dreams and fears that can overwhelm us. I have my experience from which to view all of this and I am compelled to seek others’ perspective as well. You can clearly see the forces that sought to separate and those that brought men together across history. I am throwing my lot in with the dreamers and the those that seek to remove the separations and walls between each other. This Dervish story speaks of much respect across religions and an appreciation for the common dreams we all share no matter our race or creed. I know in the end Love is the only thing that is real and the creeds of man will be shown to be the stepping stones that they are.
The People Who Attain
– from Idries Shaw’s Tales of the Dervishes
Imam el-Ghazali relates a tradition from the life of Isa ibn Maryam(Jesus).
Isa one day saw some people sitting miserably on a wall, by the roadside. He asked: ‘What is your affliction?’
They said: ‘We have become like this through our fear of hell.’
He went on his way, and saw a number of people grouped disconsolately in various postures by the wayside. He said: ‘What is your affliction?’
They said: ‘Desire for Paradise has made us like this.’
He went on his way, until he came to a third group of people. They looked like people who had endured much, but their faces shone with joy. Isa asked them: ‘What has made you like this?’
They answered: ‘The Spirit of Truth. We have seen Reality, and this has made us oblivious of lesser goals.’
Isa said: ‘These are the people who attain. On the Day of Accounting these are they who will be in the Presence of God.’
Those who believe that spiritual advancement depends upon the cultivation of reward and punishment themes alone have often been surprised by this Sufi tradition about Jesus.
Sufis say that only certain people benefit through powerful dwelling upon gain or loss; and that this, in turn, may constitute only a part of anyone’s experiences. Those who have studied the methods and effects of conditioning and indoctrination may feel themselves inclined to agree with them.