This predawn, I saw my friend the grey fox return after a long absence. She was successfully exploiting a new bird feeder full of sunflower seeds. When her partner arrived, I was transfixed by their beauty. After they left, I wondered how I might communicate such a spiritual experience to my friends.

I thought back two years ago to my interview with Shrivasta Goswami in Vrindavan, India. Shrivasta is a teacher of Bhakti, a spiritual path based on loving devotion to Krishna (footnote 1) as a personal God. He comes from a long line of spiritual masters and scholars and is a leader in interfaith dialogue.

I asked Srivasta what example he would use to communicate the experiences of Being that is taught by mystics of all religions. Without missing a beat, he smiled and said “Orgasm.”

Continue reading “Expansion”

Challenge To All Believers

“It is not enough as a Sufi Muslim to merely accept the validity of other religions. One must taste the joy and the love found in each of those faiths.”
Abdul Hayy

Abdul Hayy, an American Muslim and Sufi teacher, wrote this email after a recent visit to Paris where on a street in Le Marais, the Jewish quarter, some proselytizers asked if he was Jewish. 

He told them that his mother’s ancestors reportedly had been Jews who converted to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition.  They responded that he was still Jewish at his core, and offered to perform his bar mitzvah. Abdul Hayy accepted with delight.

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Just like any religion, atheism is not a one pony show. There are lots of atheisms.

Some atheists are angry, centering on hating and/or disproving God. Some note that old doctrines and dogma do not make sense in today’s world. Many became disappointed with God and could not continue with their religion. Prominent ex-Muslim Arman Navabi recounted the disastrous outcome of following advice of a narrow-minded Muslim cleric. My own Waterloo was the Nazi holocaust.

Many people look for meaning outside religion. Some are indifferent to God, finding meaning in living their lives as best they can. Others believe that humanity itself will progress and bring about a better future. Some believe that science, if given enough time, will reveal all that is worth knowing.

And then there are the Buddhists, who do not believe in a God. Some Buddhists even say Buddhism is not a religion.

However, with few exceptions, what unites us all, the religious, the atheists, and the indifferent, is the belief that good is better than bad. Goodness exists.

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First Steps on the Spiritual Path

If you have accepted that, as Rumi said, “there is a certain work to be done,” talked to friends and read up a little on spiritual paths, as well as considered possible dangers, perhaps you are ready to stick a toe into the spiritual waters.

All legitimate spiritual paths ask you to learn to observe your emotions and thoughts and learn to let them go, coming to understand you are not your thoughts. With increased experience, you will increase your interest in developing these skills and discovering these possibilities. You will find wow experiences, “So that’s why I keep doing this stupid thing”. Continue reading “First Steps on the Spiritual Path”

Dangers on the Spiritual Path: Holy Hell

Everyone has heard of cults. A cult is defined as a relatively small group of people having religious/spiritual beliefs or practices regarded by others as deviant and having excessive devotion for a particular person who is autocratic.

Two extreme examples are The People’s Temple and Heaven’s Gate. Some 900 people of The People’s Temple, at Jim Jones’ direction, “drank the kool-aid” (actually cyanide grape-flavored Flavor Aid) and died. The two leaders of Heaven’s Gate, interpreting Revelations, believed that the Hale Bopp Comet would take them away. The 39 members killed themselves in preparation for their transition to Heaven.

“Holy Hell” is a chilling 2016 Netflix documentary that profiles the Buddhafield, a cult led by Michel Rostand. Although no one has died, the film captures the seduction of his followers.

Will Allen, it’s writer/director/videographer, was a cult member for some 22 years before leaving primarily because of their leader’s manipulation and sexual abuse.

Continue reading “Dangers on the Spiritual Path: Holy Hell”