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Heart with Wings

Universal Worship

Sermon: Illuminating our Path Towards a Greater Understanding and Forgiveness by Siraja Nuria Stephanie Sabato

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Universal Worship Sermon from International Sufi Movement.

Illuminating our Path Towards a Greater Understanding and Forgiveness. This Sermon was given by Nuria Stephanie Sabato at the 2010 International Sufi Movement Summer School in Katwijk, Holland.

***Please note: The last 4 minutes of the Sermon are not available by video. The video will continue to play the audio, with a blank screen.

The Universal Worship Service is available in audio in its entirety below.

1. Musical Introduction (8:18) - Ragini

2. Lighting of Candles (6:50) - Ameen Carp

3. Reading of the Sacred Texts (15:55) - Rani McGloughlin
4. Sermon (21:58) - Nuria Stephanie Sabato

5. Musical Meditation and Benediction (5:43)




READINGS FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

From the Chhandogya Upanishad
Chapter VI — Meditation as Brahman, Verse 2

"He who meditates on understanding as Brahman attains the worlds of understanding and knowledge and can, of his own free will, reach as far as understanding reaches—he who meditates on understanding as Brahman."

 

From the Dhammpada Verse 3
Mind With single-mindedness
The master quells his thoughts. He ends their wandering. Seated in the cave of the heart, He finds freedom. How can a troubled mind Understand the way? If a man is disturbed He will never be filled with knowledge. An untroubled mind, No longer seeking to consider What is right and what is wrong, A mind beyond judgements, Watches and understands.

From the Zend Avesta Ohrmazd Yasht
(Hymn to Ahura Mazda) 38

'We worship the memory of Ahura Mazda, to keep the Holy Word. 'We worship the understanding of Ahura Mazda, to study the Holy Word. 'We worship the tongue of Ahura Mazda, to speak forth the Holy Word. 'We worship the mountain that gives understanding, that preserves understanding; [we worship it] by day and by night, with offerings of libations well-accepted.

From the Old Testament of the Holy Bible
1 Kings 3:9-3:12

{3:9} Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thypeople, that I may discern between good and bad: for who isable to judge this thy so great a people? {3:10} And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. {3:11} And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; {3:12} Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

 

From the New Testament of the Holy Bible
Mark 12:28-12:33
{12:28} And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? {12:29} And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is,] Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: {12:30} And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. {12:31} And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. {12:32} And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: {12:33} And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love [his] neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

From the Holy Koran Sura 24 AN-NUR
THE LIGHT – Chapter 8, Verse 61

…you should greet one another with the greeting of peace prescribed by Allah blessed and pure. Thus Allah makes His revelations clear to you, so that you may grow in understanding.

From the Gayan, Vadan and Nirtan
“The lover of goodness loves every little sign of goodness. He overlooks the faults and fills up the gaps by pouring out love and supplying that which is lacking. This is real nobility of soul. Religion, prayer, and worship, are all intended to ennoble the soul, not to make it narrow, sectarian or bigoted. One cannot arrive at true nobility of spirit if one is not prepared to forgive the imperfections of human nature. For all men, whether worthy or unworthy, require forgiveness, and only in this way can one rise above the lack of harmony and beauty.”



SERMON
The Eastern Indian Philosopher Hazrat Inayat Khan teaches, “All tragedy of life, all misery and inharmony are caused by one thing and that is lack of understanding. Lack of understanding comes from lack of penetration. The one who does not see from the point of view from which he ought to see becomes disappointed because he cannot understand. It is not for the outer world to help us to understand life better; it is we ourselves who should help ourselves to understand it better”. (Sufi Message Volume XIV - The Smiling Forehead, Part I - The Smiling Forehead, Chapter XIX, The Awakening of the Soul, by Hazrat Inayat Khan.)

The key here is, that “all misery in life comes from a lack of understanding” and that “lack of understanding comes from lack of penetration”, and it is our responsibility to train ourselves to understand life better.

And how? Here Inayat Khan gives us the answer. Through “penetration”!

In the Chhandogya Upanishad, Chapter VI — Meditation as Brahman, Verse 2 we heard this teaching: "He who meditates on understanding as Brahman attains the worlds of understanding and knowledge.”

What does it mean, “Meditate as Brahman?” It means that we penetrate beyond the surface of our ordinary mind – and as the Sufi Mystic and Scholar Ibn’ Arabi teaches us: “Seek to know that which transpires behind that which appears.”

Meditate as Brahman, with the concentrated mind of Braham penetrating the hidden meaning beyond the surface of appearances.

Inayat Khan tell us … “God is Everywhere”… the inner life does not consist in closing the eyes and looking inward. The inner life is to look outwardly and inwardly, and to find one's Beloved everywhere. (Sufi Message Volume 1, The Inner Life, The Object of the Journey)

But God cannot be made a Beloved unless the love element is awakened sufficiently.

The one who hates his enemy and loves his friend cannot call God his Beloved, for he does not know God. When love comes to its fullness, then one looks at the friend with affection, on the enemy with forgiveness, on the stranger with sympathy. There is love in all its aspects expressed when love rises to its fullness; and it is the fullness of love which is worth offering to God. It is then that man recognizes in God his Beloved, his Ideal; and by that, although he rises above the narrow affection of this world, he is the one who really knows how to love even his friend. It is the lover of God who knows love when he rises to that stage of the fullness of love, tolerance, and to all moral principles. All deeds of kindness and beneficence take root in the soil of the loving heart. Generosity, charity, adaptability, an accommodating nature, even renunciation, are the offspring of love alone. The great, rare and chosen beings, who for ages have been looked up to as ideal in the world, are the possessors of hearts kindled with love. All evil and sin come from the lack of love. (Sufi Message Volume 1, The Inner Life, The Object of the Journey)

Now we have to ask, how can we develop the art penetration? Our minds are so often active – even overactive – life has so many demands. Our mind so rarely stilled, we find ourselves constantly navigating choppy waters and in doing so our equilibrium may be lost. This in turn can lead us to feeling lack of patience, which gives rise to misunderstandings that ultimately lead to our feeling isolated, separated, and alienated because of our own judgments. Or the judgments we feel from others upon us. Again the answer is through single-minded penetration.

As pointed out here in the reading from the Dhamapada Verse 3 on Mind, “With single-mindedness The master quells his thoughts. He ends their wandering.”

Quelling ones thoughts can be understood by a concentrated, single-minded effort the energy of the experience … the energy of the moment can be used to penetrate the obscurations leading to our greater understanding.

The Dhammapada further teaches us: “How can a troubled mind Understand the way? If a man is disturbed He will never be filled with knowledge. An untroubled mind, No longer seeking to consider What is right and what is wrong, A mind beyond judgements, Watches and understands.”

Hazrat Inayat Khan gives us an instructive pathway leading to greater understanding. He teaches us

In the attainment of the inner life, there are five things necessary.

1. Unlearning 2. A Spiritual Guide 3. Receiving of Knowledge 4. Meditation 5. A Loving Life

Their first moral principle is constantly to avoid hurting the feeling of another. (Sufi Message Volume 1, The Inner Life, Attaining the Inner Life)

Holy Bible-New “Testament” “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This is one of the great commandments.

The second principle is to avoid being affected by the constantly jarring influences which every soul has to meet in life.(Sufi Message Volume 1, The Inner Life, Attaining the Inner Life)

In the Old Testament we heard: “I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart;…”

Returning to the principles of the inner life, “The third principle is to keep balance under all different situations and conditions which upset the tranquil state of mind.” To highlight this principle we turn to another …. (Sufi Message Volume 1, The Inner Life, Attaining the Inner Life)

From the text by Inayat Khan titled the Unity of Religious Ideals, “Think of the life of the great Master Jesus... one sees that from beginning to end there was nothing but love and forgiveness [in the manner of Jesus]. (Sufi Message Volume IX - The Unity of Religious Ideals, Part II, The God Ideal, by Hazrat Inayat Khan)

It is by unifying our hearts and minds with that of the Master Jesus that we can seize the vitality of mystical transformation offered to us through difficulties, challenges, hurtfulness of another’s thoughtlessness and unite the example Jesus gave to us during his great martyrdom.

As Our Beloved Jesus hung on the cross he cried out, “Forgive them Father they know not what they do.” What extraordinary love… What extraordinary forgiveness. Friends our lives all situations and conditions from one point of view we can see only as troublesome, but with a penetrating awareness we can begin to view life’s troubles as little crucifixions that give us the opportunity to experience in small measure what Jesus did in His life and death –¬— Opportunities to practice real forgiveness which develop in us true character and can serve ennoble our souls.

Returning to the list of those five things necessary for the development of the inner life, “fourth principle is to love unceasingly all those who deserve love, and to give to the undeserving forgiveness; and this is continually practiced .” (Sufi Message Volume 1, The Inner Life, Attaining the Inner Life)

This point again is highlighted in our reading today from Holy Koran. Sura 24, AN-NUR – THE LIGHT – Chapter 8, Verse 61 “...you should greet one another with the greeting of peace prescribed by Allah blessed and pure. Thus Allah makes His revelations clear to you, so that you may grow in understanding.”

The fifth principle in the development of the inner life which develops in us “detachment amidst the crowd; but by detachment it is not meant separation. By detachment it is to be understood as rising above those bondages which bind man and keep him back from his journey towards the goal.”

In the Zend Avesta we heard: “We worship the mountain that gives understanding, that preserves understanding; [we worship it] by day and by night, with offerings.”

From this small teaching we can learn that when one’s mind is full of praise and offering, by day and night, it refocuses our attention on the sublime vision of awakened understanding. Further when it is said, “We worship the mountain that gives understanding” —we understanding here the metaphor of the mountain as something here on earth that represents grandeur and great stability while reaching towards the heaven.

Another beautiful metaphor given to us by Inayat Khan is that of the mirror where He teaches, “When the mind is troubled it is confused. It cannot reflect anything. It is the stillness of mind that makes one capable of receiving impressions and of reflecting them. In Persian the mind is called a mirror. Everything in front of the mirror appears in it; but when [the object] is taken away the mirror is clear. It does not remain. It remains in the mirror as long as the mirror is focused on it, and so it is with the mind.”

Inayat Khan goes on to teach us: “[The] inner life is something which is within oneself. It has been called a chamber of divine light in one's heart. The door remains closed until an effort is made to open it. Everything becomes spiritual once this door of the chamber of the heart is open.” (9) and…

“It is forgiveness and that forbearance which is a recognition of the freedom and dignity of the human being, that consume all ugliness and burn up all unworthiness, leaving only beauty there.” (Sufi Message Volume 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra)

May God bless us all with hearts overflowing with understanding, love, and forgiveness.


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