Archives for the ‘ Mysticism ’ Category

The Cure for Selfishness

By • Sep 18th, 2023 • Category: Mysticism

Rumi teaches that “love” is a “healer”: it heals the most devastating disease that can afflict our character- selfishness. Love purges all character flaws and moral defects. Rumi says:

“Anyone whose garment is rent by a mighty love, is purged of covetousness and all defect.
Hail, O’ Love, that bring us good gain- you are the healer of all our ills.
You are the remedy for our pride and vainglory; you are our Plato and our Galen!”

In this presentation, we will discuss Rumi’s teachings on the cure for selfishness, and offer some practical tips to fight selfishness.

The Many Faces of Selfishness

By • Aug 10th, 2023 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

In the Islamic tradition, selfishness (or egoism) is considered the “mother of all vices”. Vices such as greed, envy and arrogance are essentially different faces of  selfishness. This means that one does not have to treat his many vices individually; if he treats his selfishness, all his moral imperfections will fade away! In this presentation, we will draw upon Rumi’s wisdom to learn about selfishness and its various forms / faces.

The Perils of False Self

By • Jun 29th, 2023 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

Throughout the ages, spiritual traditions have maintained that “ego” is a major obstacle to soul development and God realization. But, there is much more to “ego” than what we typically understand as “selfishness”. At its core, “ego” is an “idea” (mental image) formed around the fundamental question: “who am I?”.  The ego-idea involves how the individual defines herself and what she identifies with. In turn, the ego-idea will heavily influence her  feelings, thoughts, choices and actions. In this presentation, we will examine “ego” as false perception of “self” by drawing upon Rumi’s transformative encounter with his mentor, Shams.

Rebirth and Renewal

By • May 30th, 2023 • Category: Mysticism

According to Islam’s oral tradition, the Prophet Mohammad said: die before you die. As Rumi puts it, this is not a death that takes you to a grave, but a death that transforms you and leads you to “light”. In modern language, this is the death of “ego”, which would create a new person in […]

The Night of Power

By • May 17th, 2020 • Category: Islam, Mysticism

The Night of Power (ليلة القدر) is the climax of the holy month of Ramadan. Before he was chosen as a Messenger of God, the Prophet Mohammad practiced solitude in the Cave of Hira in the outskirts of Mecca. He performed meditation, contemplation and austerities for long periods of time. All that preparation bore fruit; one night, an extra-ordinary power appeared to him. He saw the world in a fundamentally different way. He vividly saw that the entire universe submits to the Lord and praises His Glory. The Night of Power transformed Mohammad and ushered in his mission. Is the experience of the Night of Power unique to the Prophet Mohammad? Can we also experience a Night of Power of our own? In this lecture, we will examine this question and what the Night of Power has meant to Muslim mystics such as Rumi.

5 Signs of Surrender to God

By • Jun 18th, 2018 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

‘Surrender’ is the bedrock of Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). They all invite their followers to surrender to God. Surrender is far more than obedience, acceptance of theological beliefs and observance of formal religious practices. Surrender is about “control”: who controls our life and behavior? When we surrender to God, we take control away from the “ego” (lower self) that confines us- makes us feel “special” and superior to everyone else, and creates tension in our heart and with the outside world. Surrender will impact the person’s whole existence: heart, mind and soul. In this presentation, I will discuss 5 major signs one has surrendered to God.

Spiritual But Not Religious

By • Mar 27th, 2015 • Category: Mysticism

Before the 20th century, the terms ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’ were perceived to be synonymous. If someone aspired to lead a spiritual life, she would join a religious tradition. In the modern West, however, there is a shift in people’s attitudes towards religion, one of which is the separation of spirituality from religion. A growing number of people consider themselves spiritual, but not religious. They want a connection with God and are interested in daily moral behavior that fosters such a connection. Yet, they do not affiliate with any organized religion such as Islam and Christianity. The ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ (SBNR) movement in modern West has peculiar resemblances to another spiritual movement in early Islam that ultimately led to the creation of Sufism (a spiritual tradition which Rumi belongs to). This lecture examines the similarities and differences between the modern-day SBNR and Islamic Sufism.

Rumi’s Teachings on Soul Development

By • Mar 5th, 2014 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

Our contemporary materialistic culture conditions us to view success in terms of wealth, power and status. This preoccupation with external prosperity comes at a price: neglecting our ‘inner’ life and soul. We tend to forget that happiness is ultimately experienced, and takes shape, in our inner space (or soul). It should come as no surprise to us that our materialistic accomplishments and professional advancements do not often translate into a happy state internally; because, we tend to look for happiness in all wrong places. Spiritual masters, such as Rumi, argue that to experience lasting joy and self-fulfillment, we must nourish and enrich our soul. In this presentation we will explore Rumi’s teachings on the promise and perils in soul development.

The Path to Inner Perfection

By • Jul 7th, 2013 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

There is an age-old debate about the source of human happiness and self-fulfillment. Rumi, one of the world’s most renowned mystics, argues that the path to joy and happiness runs through ‘inner perfection’- by looking ‘inward’ to fully realize our humanity. In contrast, the modern lifestyle which is rooted in materialism, defines happiness in terms of finance, luxury and consumption- constantly turning our attention ‘outward’. Yet despite vast increases in material well-being in modern times, most studies show that people do not feel happy. Something is clearly amiss.

Rumi would not be surprised by these modern trends. He would say that the problem lies in our looking ‘outward’, embellishing the external aspects of our life in the vain hope of feeling better inside. This is a wrong prescription.

This lecture will explore Rumi’s teachings on ‘inner perfection’ as a vehicle for attaining joy and happiness.

Mystical Prayer

By • Mar 23rd, 2013 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

Prayer is an integral part of all world religions. To the average person, prayer is an appeal to God for a favor- to fix a problem, heal an illness, pass an exam and so forth. In fact, it is precisely this perception that has led most philosophers and scientists to question the validity of prayer on rational grounds (that is, prayer is an appeal to a higher power to intervene and distort the natural order of things). But, there is far more to prayer than this simplistic notion. Prayer is deeply rooted in our soul and psyche; it is a dialogue (not a monologue) with the Divine- an uplifting spiritual experience.

In this lecture, we will examine the mystical conception of prayer; we will focus primarily on Rumi’s teachings about the nature and the various dimensions of prayer.