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She prayed, “O Allah! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell, and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise. But if I worship You for Your Own sake, grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.”

Hazrat Rabia Basri | Journey of a Seeker Of Sacred Knowledge


pilgrimmage has been writing some powerful stuff about spirituality and amaebi has been sharing some links on the national election.  The autistic brain is logical and has no filter, so "naturally" when i think about spirituality, i think about illlusion and reality, and about mysticism and especially about sertain remarkable saints like Catherine of Genoa and Rabia of Basra.

Thinking about spirituality and politics at the same time causes another thought: We gotta get out of this place, if its the last thing we ever do!"  Taken out of context, that phrase can mean any of several things.  Some sort of migration is implied.

Demographers used to talk about "push" factors and "pull" factors.  Home is home and it takes something negative about home and/or something attractive about somewhere else to make us leave.  Of course some of us are, by nature or circumstance, homeless.  Then there are others whose "home is off somewhere, away beyond the blue."

In the West, even those who believe that "heaven is their home:accept their earthly existence, as they experience it, as "real."  Though earth  will eventually be destroyed, it is, for the time being as God has created it and as we have corrupted it, real.

In the East, toward which my heart is more and more moving, the perspective has been, traditionally, somewhat different.  A God or gods may have, at least as first  cause, created the material world, oue perception of that world is our own creation.  If we take our perceptions, even if through the lenses of science, as real we are deluding ourselves.
The world of  our senses is an illusion -- maya.

What might my attitude toward life be if i could acccept that i live in an illlusion; like in Plato's cave, whatever flickers before  my senses is pale reflection, no more than a shadow on a wall?  Plato suggests that whoever finds his way our of the cave will return to tell the others, and some will want to leave also.  But what if the exit from one "cave" is the entrance to another, trillions upon trillions of times larger and much more interesting, but no more real than the first.

Mystics seek to go beyond this larger cave, the "visible" universe.  They discover that their favorite tools, the intellect and worldly knowledge is relatively useless in this quest.  At some point they usually stop thinking and trust.

But the illusion is like a kalidescope, it has many apparent dimensions, and in each dimension, trust means something different.  Trust within the smaller caves is not the same as trust within the larger ones.  "Trust but verify," may be valid in all dimensions, but "verify" and "trust" will have many different definitions.

The trust of the mystic is trust in the absolutely unknowable.  We are not going "to think God's thoughts after Him," because His "ways are not our ways."  Saying "Him" is a rhetorical devise designed by males who have usually put themselves in charge of defining the undefinable.

Belief in nothing is not the same as no belief.  Trust in nothing is not the same as no trust.
We are asked by most mystical traditions (all of them so far as  i can tell) to treat other people as though they were real, as though they had worth -- infinite worth.  How do they come to this conclusion?  I don't know; i'm not one of them.

When  asked why anyone should be compassionate, or loving, or joyful, or merciful, or humble, or responible, the mystics just say: "I just know," or "The silence tells me so," or "Why not?"  But from ten thousand different cultures and a million different perspectives, they all say the same thing -- love your neighbor, love your enemy, love your self.

So come November, still deluded, but "knowing" there is a reality  outside the cave, i will go to my assigned polling place and cast votes for (probably all) Democratic candidates.
In the meantime i will contribute a significant but by no means sacrificial amount of money to the Democratic party.  I will not, if i can help it, feel inferior to those whose  contributions are more sacrificial; nor will i, if i  can help it, demonize those who support a different party.  Otherwise, i will speak or write nothing further about this aspect of  the illusion.

Rabia is said to have opposed slavery.  Other than that she is supposed to have expressed no opinions about "worldly" matters.   She is said to  have enjoyed the presence of Allah in every moment of her long life.  From the perspective of us deluded folk, her life might seem to have been terribly difficult, maybe even tragic.  From her own perspective, which seems to have cast off the chains of  illusion and delusion, she was blessed.  And apparently those who got close to her knew she was blessed.  And this poor, illliterate slave girl inspired tens of  thousands of people to see things her way.


*Catherine of Genoa.  The full quote is: "...And I stood so occupied with contemplating this work of Love, that if He had cast me. body and soul, into hell, hell itself would have appeared to me all Love and consolation."

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