Religion for PeaceSpirituality for Peace

Mysticism celebrates the revelations of the Transcendent Life

Mysticism finds and celebrates the revelations of the Transcendent Life not in some remote plane of being, in metaphysical abstractions, in ecstatic states, but “in the normal acts of our diurnal experience, suddenly made significant to us.

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MysticismMysticism finds and celebrates the revelations of the Transcendent Life not in some remote plane of being, in metaphysical abstractions, in ecstatic states, but “in the normal acts of our diurnal experience, suddenly made significant to us. Not in the backwaters of existence, not amongst subtle arguments and occult doctrines, but in all those places where the direct and simple life of earth goes on.” God is three pounds of flex or a cup of tea for the Zen mystics and in fact for all mystics who enjoy all things in God. Just to be is to blessed and that is why, ordinarily, none is

Sufi poets have been underscoring the aspect of joy and celebration. Hafiz is all about that. So is Khayyam. Why is explained by our Kashmiri Sufi poet Hubbi:

Let us go celebrating

Let us go celebrating

The splendor of the unnoticed Beauty

Mad Intoxicated Majnun

Who chose death in life

His Laila is unveiling

Let us go celebrating

Belief and Infidelity are chains

No escaping the summons of Love

Break loose the ties

Let us go celebrating

There is no music in the Law of Islam

For the lovers, there is only Music

Let us go celebrating

It is the time of festivity

In the lovers house wine shall be served

The secret of Union disclosing

Let us go celebrating

Unveiled is the Beauty

Named Muhammad

In Names and Forms

Let us go celebrating

O Habib what news transpired?

Cutting asunder the world of duality

With the sword of Love

Let us go celebrating

The whole life of St. Francis was one long march to music through the world as Under hill notes in her classic Mysticism. To sing seemed to him a primary spiritual function. Under hill has referred to the romantic quality of the mystical Life – its gaiety, freedom and joy. Many mystics have expressed themselves in verse. This is only because the superabundant joy that wells within them needs such a medium to express. Sufi love songs are well known. Less known are songs of Christian mystics. St. John of the Cross wrote love songs to his Love. St. Rose of Lima sang deuts with the birds. St. Teresa wrote rustic hymns and carols. In St. Catherine of Genoa, sang, in a spirit of childlike happiness, gay songs about her Love.

The spirit of celebration is linked with experiencing the world as wondrous and miraculous. As Heschel notes:

The sense for the “miracles which are daily with us,” the sense for the “continual marvels,” is the source of prayer. There is no worship, no music, no love, if we take for granted the blessings or defeats of living. No routine of the social, physical, or physiological order must dull our sense of surprise at the fact that there is a social, a physical, or a physiological order. We are trained in maintaining our sense of wonder by uttering a prayer before the enjoyment of food. Each time we are about to drink a glass of water, we remind ourselves of the eternal mystery of creation, “Blessed be Thou . . . by Whose word all things come into being.” A trivial act and a reference to the supreme miracle. Wishing to eat bread or fruit, to enjoy a pleasant fragrance or a cup of wine; on tasting fruit in season for the first time; on seeing a rainbow, or the ocean ; on noticing trees when they blossom ; on meeting a sage in Torah or in secular learning; on hearing good or bad tidings-we are taught to invoke His great name and our awareness of Him. Even on performing a physiological function we say “Blessed be Thou . . . who healest all flesh and doest wonders.”

Turning naturalism on its head, Heschel notes the counterclaim of religion as consisting in the belief in the hidden miracles as the basis for the entire Torah. “A man has no share in the Torah, unless he believes that all things and all events in the life of the individual as well as in the life of society are miracles. There is no such thing as the natural course of events . . . .” He quotes Rabbi Joshua ben Levi: “The earning of bread is a greater wonder than the division of the Red Sea.” And the saying other sayings from elsewhere:: “Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, wrought many miracles in order to redeem Israel from Egypt, so He does concerning a piece of bread which a man puts in his mouth.”

Seeing life as miraculous goads one to celebration of it. Nothing is commonplace and everything is worthy of attention or love and that implies celebration. Those who are uncomfortable with miracles are nevertheless forced to concede mystery that doesn’t fit into the naturalistic reductionist framework. In any case being is mysterious and mystery is at the heart of our experience of the world. The world isn’t a problem but a mystery as Marcel explained. Our very subjectivity or being is involved in our engagement with the world. To be is to be oriented towards the mysterious. And Mystery is vivifying.

By Muhammed Maroof Shah

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