Saturday, August 29, 2009

The secret teaching within all religions

'I am neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim. Doing away with duality, I saw the two worlds as one. I seek One, I know One, I see One, and I call One.' - The Life and Thought of Rumi

Since we're both fascinated with ancient aqueducts and enjoy photographing them, Sam and I decide to make our way to the Valens aqueduct which used to supply water to the city during medieval times when Istanbul was still known as Constantinople.

Today the Ataturk Bulvari Boulevard passes underneath it and we try to avoid the cars whirring by whilst trying to find the best angles for a photograph or three.

My curiosity leads me to the vendor on the side of the road. He offers a variety of locally produced, non-branded nuts, dried apricots and dates in small individually portioned plastic bags. We each decide on a small packet of salted hazelnuts to savour along the way to the Grand Bazaar, one of the world's largest and oldest covered markets.

As dusk falls the sound of a single reed pipe calls up my spirit. The music is carried from what must be a Sufi performance in the area. I have rarely heard something so pure, one clear melody that invites my soul out to dance.

Sufism is the mystical expression of Islam. As with yogis and monks, Sufis search to become one with Divine Love and deny all human indulgences and religious institutions.

This essence reminds me of how William P. Young personifies Divine Love in his book "The Shack", where he illustrates that those who are enlightened come from all walks of life and that different paths work for different people. It doesn't mean that all paths lead to God, he explains, but that those who love Him can be "Buddhists, or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions".

Young goes on to say that God has no desire to make all people Christian because religious institutions are flawed. Instead even former murderers can be transformed through Divine Love and find peace without a religious label. Around 400 BC Plato said that mystic belief is the most uncorrupted form of divine worship. It seems that the ancient philosophers already found many answers for modern man that is all too easily forgotten.

Yet, today, this flute resonates with me and I am living more inside this moment than most.

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