Saturday, September 30, 2006

My spirutal journey

Guest Post By Daniel, the fasting newbie:

Some more background to my spiritual heritage is in order for you to fully understand where I am and where I'm going. I was born in Sweden which is traditionally a protestant country but we still have strong heathen tradition. My father is brought up without (to my knowledge) any strong religious beliefs. My mother is from a strict Catholic family originally from Norway, she is like me a seeker and she has "tried" everything from Christianity to "new age" so I think I have inherited my spiritual side from her. I have a younger sister on my father's side who is a devoted Lutheran and an uncle on my mother's side that is a Catholic but except for that I have
next to no religion in my family.

I did my confirmation in our church at the age of 15 but that was more for the opportunity to meet girls from other schools than my own and for the gifts you recieve from relatives than anything close to religion.

When I was in my late teens I travelled to England where I was for the first time in touch with "real" religious people. Most of them were Christians and Rastafari. This opened my eyes to religion in a new way as I lived close to people with rituals of worship.

I have also a different source of inspiration to my spiritual side. I love history and while studying history it is inevitable to run in to religion, so I have studied the Tora / Bible / Qur'an on the side of the history books. And I have a hard time to see a big difference between the three of them... But I have no formal training in interpreting religious texts so I might be wrong : )

I believe that there is only one divine power in the universe but different cultures put different faces on it. Some might give it three faces like the Christians and the Rastafari some might go closer to the source of "the light" and just give it one. Even the Hindu with their thousands of gods recognize that there is one single divine power behind them all...

I'm not looking for a religion but for rituals of worship. Since I don't have a "religion" I don't have rules to live by just my sense of morality (based strongly on Christianity) and the one thing I "miss" is a way to live a more "religious" life. The fast is a good way to practice your will and to show your devotion to what I from now on will call "The light" (the face I have put on my god, sexles, not looking like me. Just the pure force behind the faces of all the gods in the universe). Prayer is another ritual of worship that I have borrowed from religion, I pray 5-10 times a year, only when I really feel that I need it. I also give thanks, a prayer of sorts but not the deep prayer I use when in need. I give thanks 3-5 times a day when I'm happy and less when I'm down. The fast will probably be a part of my "religious repertoire" in the future and I will most likely share it with Muslims as Ramadan is a good time to fast as any other and I get the support of others and I can celebrate with fellow believers...


Lirun said...

i dont think you need necessarily to seek the differences.. i think the beauty of spirituality is only partly in its preaching and much more in its application..

one key problem these days is that certain minority forces seek for us to generate distances between our spiritual and religious institutions..

i think your journey is a worthy cause.. i would encourage all people to be so self-evaluative and open to learn from other's traditions..

i was very honoured when invited, as an israeli, to join this blog and one of the reasons was to learn about something so "distant" from me but also to provide my naive perspective as a reflection back to my teachers..

power to you dude..

BuJ said...

Wow.. Very powerful stuff.. I wish you find everything you seek and more in Ramadan. This is a special and blessed time indeed.

I have the feeling that more orthodox muslims will not appreciate your views but hey, let them mind their own business!

You do what you enjoy doing and I hope you use this forum to ask any difficult questions you might have.

Bittawfeeq (good luck Ar)

RIJJU said...

I my self believe that reading from different books helps you better understand or for that matter explain about Islam. I my self have not yet read the Bible or the Tora but my idea is that there would be differences in the three books as thats the whole point of the three religons. The differences can be mild or not so obvious. can somebody recommend a book or English translation for Tora and Bible that i can read.

Hannah said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for sharing that. I think the idea of the spiritual journey is an important one. There is always a danger of complacency in one's spiritual life, and a tendency to cling to the point at which one finds oneself as if that were the final destination as opposed to a waystation. God keeps calling us, and to respond means to accept where we are, even when we feel we'd rather be elsewhere, more accomplished, and to be open to moving on. It's a creative, dynamic process. Having said that, I do believe that there's great value in the paths that have already been well-trodden over the centuries of even millenia. The spiritual journey has pitfalls of egotism and dilettantism, and the image of "the straight path" in the Bible and the Qur'an is one that tacitly acknowledges that there are paths that will lead one astray.

Rijju, I always loved the classic King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. It often has the words of Jesus marked on red. The language is a little archaic, so if you think that might get in the way of reading it, the New International Version (NIV) is a modern standard. Note that Catholic and Protestant editions will differ in that they include a few different books. ("Book", in the Christian sense when talking about the Bible, means the different discrete sections inside, like the Book of Leviticus, the Book of Matthew, etc.)

A classic book about the spiritual journey from the perspective of a Catholic is Thomas Merton's "The Seven-Story Mountain", about his journey from atheism to a vocation as a Trappist monk. I highly recommend it.

kaya said...

What you seek will come from within you.
Everything else is like road signs, leading you to that place.

RIJJU said...

Thx hannah

al-Hajji Umar said...

There are big differences in the the texts you have cited in regard to their content and the intent of that content. For example, there are books in the Torah that are merely census records of various clans. There are recollections of battles and lists of many atrocities committed in the struggle for what we now call the Holy Land.

The Christian bible is essentially based on the teachings of Paul who, by the way, was rejected by the Jerusalem church (which has direct links to Jesus - his brother James headed that church) and called the Great Liar.

Niether of these books claim to be the Revealed Word of God. The claim generally made is that they are inspired texts.

The Qur'an, as we know, is the revealed word of Allah. It is not an inspired book; it is a revealed recitation given to us to recite often so that the Qur'an becomes our conscious, our constitution, our way of viewing creation.

See? There are many, many differences among these books. The good thing is, we chose the best one!