Archives for the ‘ Mysticism ’ Category

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.


By • Jan 15th, 2013 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

Mysticism is an authentic form of spirituality. Although some people incorrectly view mysticism as a rival to religion, it has always been an integral part of world religions. Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, they all have mystical dimensions. The origins of the Jewish mystical tradition, or Kabbalah, can be traced back to the time of Moses. Christianity has always had a strong mystical tradition dating back to Jesus Christ, even though there is not a universally recognized label for its mystical legacy. Islam’s mystical branch, commonly known as Sufism, emerged shortly after the Prophet Mohammad and evolved over the centuries. This lecture introduces mysticism and its major pillars. Even though the lecture draws mainly upon the teachings of Muslim mystics, its content equally applies to the other mystical traditions.

Love and Spritual Growth

By • May 12th, 2012 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

The central concept in Rumi’s works is “love”. His conception of love is not about romantic involvement, but rather a deep and elegant philosophy of human salvation. He begins his masterpiece (Mathnavi) with the story of a reed (flute) complaining about separation from the reedbed. The reed symbolizes the human soul longing to re-unite with its source- that Unseen Ocean of Divine where it originated from. The life of separation is dominated by anxiety and boredom, two feelings we experience profoundly in our daily lives. What is the path to re-unite with our source, and overcome anxiety and boredom? It is the path of love. Rumi calls love the healer; it heals our heart, soul and spirit.

Divine Love

By • Apr 1st, 2012 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

The greatest contribution of mystics to human spirituality is their discovery of love. But, love always goes hand in hand with beauty. Mystics discovered that God is not only Almighty and Majestic, but also Beautiful. It is precisely the Divine’s captivating beauty that persuades a person to surrender her heart and soul to God. In […]

Rumi’s Tale of Moses and the Shepherd

By • Feb 17th, 2012 • Category: Lectures, Mysticism

The ‘Tale of Moses and the Shepherd’ is one of the most famous stories in Rum’s masterpiece, Mathnavi. In this fictional story, Rumi creates a dialog between two characters- Moses and a shepherd- to vividly illustrate two pitfalls in religiosity: formalism and exclusivism. He argues against reducing faith to formalities (such as theological doctrines and […]