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~Kundalini~

Kundalini is a Sanskrit word meaning either “coiled up” or “coiling like a snake.” Kundalini is mainly associated with Hinduism. However, Kundalini as a spiritual experience is thought to have parallels in many of the mystical and gnostic traditions of the world’s great religions.

The early Christians might have referred to the concept as ‘pneuma’, and there are some recent parallels in contemporary Christian Charismatic ‘Holy Ghost’ phenomena. Religious studies also note parallels in Quakerism, Shakerism, Judaic Shuckling (torso-rocking prayer), the swaying zikr and whirling dervish of Islam, the quiverings of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast, the flowing movements of tai chi, the ecstatic shamanic dance and the ntum trance dance of the Bushman. kundalini1

Picture Courtesy: Ellie Crystal

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~Zoroaster’s Philosophy~

One of the symbols of Zoroastrianism, The Faravahar or Frawahr

One of the symbols of Zoroastrianism, The Faravahar or Frawahr

Zoroaster or Zarathushtra , also referred to as Zartosht, was an ancient Iranian prophet and religious poet. The Gathas, which are the hymns attributed to him, are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism.

Zoroaster as perceived by his followers

Zoroaster as perceived by his followers

In his revelation, the prophet saw the universe as the cosmic struggle between aša which is  “truth” and druj which is “lie.” The concept of aša which is only vaguely translatable – is said to be at the foundation of all other Zoroastrian doctrine, including that of Ahura Mazda (who is aša), creation (that is aša), existence (that is aša) and Free Will. This is said to be Zoroaster’s greatest contribution to religious philosophy.

The purpose of humankind, like that of all other creation, is to sustain aša, the truth through active participation in life and the exercise of good thoughts, words and deeds.

 

 

Picture Courtesy: Internet

~Religious Cosmology~

Religious cosmology is a way of explaining the history and evolution of the universe based on the acceptance of principles that cannot be justified by accepted scientific arguments. Some religious cosmologies are based on the teachings of particular religions or religious texts, whereas others are more general reactions to perceived difficulties in explaining the entire universe without the actions of a coordinating intelligence.

Baha'i House of Worship in Willmette, IL, USA

Baha'i House of Worship in Willmette,IL,USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture Courtesy: Internet

Bahá’í Houses of Worship are open to people of all faiths – or of no particular faith. The name used in the Bahá’í writings for Houses of Worship is Mashriqu’l-Adhkár (Dawning-place of the Remembrance of God) and the services focus only on the worship of God.

There are no collections and no sermons in the Temple, only the Word of God is uttered along with readings from all the Holy Writings of the earth. The only instrument used in the Temple is the human voice, and the choir in any Bahá’í House of Worship sings without instrumental accompaniment. As the Bahá’í Faith has no priesthood, ordinary members of the community; men and women, adults and children read the texts.

~Ouroboros~

The ‘Ouroboros’, also known as ‘the tail devouring snake’  is an ancient symbol exhibiting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle. ouroboros

The ‘Ouroboros’ often represents “Self-reflexivity” or a cycle; in the sense that things or entities are constantly re-creating themselves.

It also represents the idea of primordial unity related to something existing from the beginning with such force or qualities that it cannot be extinguished.

 

 

Picture Courtesy: Internet

~Anthroposophy~

Reach your Higher Consciousness

Reach your Higher Consciousness

Anthroposophy, a spiritual science was founded by  Rudolf Steiner and it is a philosophy (or as some claim, a religion) that sprung from the Theosophy movement.

Rudolf Steiner, was an Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, architect, playwright, educator, and social thinker, who is best known as the founder of Anthroposophy and its practical applications.

He characterized his system of Anthroposophy as follows:

”Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe… Anthroposophists are those who experience, as an essential need of life, certain questions on the nature of the human being and the universe, just as one experiences hunger and thirst.”  

 The main focus of an anthroposophist is to be “more human” by becoming more conscious about one’s thoughts and deeds. One may reach higher levels of consciousness through meditation, observation and openness over a lifelong “quest”.

 

Picture Courtesy: Ellie Crystal

~What is Umbanda~

The Altar of the Guaracy Spiritual Tent in Rio North Zone.

The Altar of the Guaracy Spiritual Tent in Rio North Zone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Picture Courtesy: Internet

 

Umbanda is the name of an Afro-Brazilian religion that mixes teachings of Alan Kardec’s spiritism , Catholicism and sects brought by the African slaves. Umbanda practices are usually directed by a man or woman called “Pai (or Mãe) de Santo” (saint’s father or mother), a medium that could incorporate died people’s spirits, called “Entidades” (Entities).
These spirits could be Caboclos (Indians), religious figures, doctors, african or brazilian negros as “Pretos Velhos”(Old Blacks). These happen in meetings called “Sessões”(Sessions), in the Tent, a big room with an altar, where members sing “Pontos” (Points, chants for an entity), dance or just hold the entity’s counsels.
Umbanda is often confused with ‘macumba’ by some Brazilians. ‘Macumba’ is another Afro-Brazilian religion, or Black Sorcery, considered by Umbanda specialists as a distortion, because it is based on evil practices, destined to harm presumed enemies, evoking undeveloped spirits, that could be equivalents to the Catholic Hell creatures.
The true Umbandists just practice White Sorcery rituals. In other words, it is done to improve a person’s life, to practice a goodness and never to harm anybody.

In my previous article, I did mention that Maizbhandar creates the space and ambience for all the World Religions to come together and unify in one gigantic melting pot. After another discussion with a Professor of mine (who has a sound knowledge on Maizbhandar) I got to get the scoop on something else that grabbed my attention; as in why do people from various Religions go to Maizbhandar? My point is that normally when people go to Shrines and places like these it’s in most cases for the purpose of conversion. As per what I got to know, Maizbhandar has a different way of thinking; it’s ideology doesn’t want people to convert, rather it’s wants to get you closer to God, The Creator, The One behind this whole Intelligent Design.

Maizbhandar Ideology believes that no matter what Religion you are, you can go and offer prayer in any other Church, Mosque, Shrine or Temple; you do not necessarily have to be of that Religion to go and offer prayer there, you can just go if you wish. And the whole logic behind this is that when you go to offer prayers in Churches or Mosques and feel the presence of God, it means that you prayers have been heard or acknowledged or approved.

People from various Religions go there but conversions don’t take place, because from the Maizbhandar point of view Religion is there to maintain order in society but it’s not the only way to reach God. Can you imagine a society without Religion, people would go bonkers! It’s a combination of a good understanding of Religion and Spirituality that one may understand the Nature of God. Since Spirituality is more universal, not matter what Religious differences, people would learn to unify and hence there would be less conflict in the name of Religion.

Today’s Religious Observation is All Souls’ Day and The Day of the Dead.

All Souls’ day commemorates the dearly departed. It is believed that those souls who have not attained beatific vision in heaven yet can be helped by prayer and Mass and therefore this day is important just like any other religious celebration.

Día de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated in Mexico where family and friends gather together to pray for and remember the relatives and loved ones that have died. This celebration occurs on the 1st and 2nd of November in connection with the Catholic holy days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. The family and friends build private altars honoring the deceased and bring their favourite foods and beverages as gifts. It is believed that it is easier for the souls of the departed to visit the living on this day.

All Saints’ Day is a feast that is celebrated on the 1st of November in honour of all the Saints, known and unknown. Roman Christian Theologians say that this day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. This day is observed by the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Eastern Catholic Churches, Anglican Churches and other Christian denominations.

Bangladesh is a country best described as a mixed bag of nuts. Not ”nuts” in the wacky sense though. Nuts in the sense you know, you will get the cashews, almonds, peanuts, etc etc.

Well ”Maizbhandar” is not just any place, it’s a place that allows your spiritual self to grow. Although some people might get a bit of a shock at first.

Maizbhandar is located in Fatikchori which is 25 miles away from Chittagong city. The term itself justifies its significance; the word ”Maiz” stands for middle and ”Bhandar” means repository. It sits in the lower valley of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and is surrounded by Halda River. 

Maizbhandar has become a symbol of composite culture and consists of a mixed ethnic population and is the melting pot of the World Religions.

Hazrat Ahmed Ullah (1826-1906), the 37th descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s) is the founder of Maizbhandar. Interestingly, Hazrat Ahmed Ullah’s birth was predicted by the great Spanish Saint Mohiuddin Ibne Arabi (1165-1240) in his classical book ‘Fusus al-Hikam’ . The great grandson of Ahmed Ullah, Ziual Huq(19…- 1988) carried the spiritual gift and tradition to maintainthe spiritual connectivity with the origin. Now Shayak Syed Muhammad Hasan(m) is the heir of this spiritual legacy.

The whole essence of the Maizbhandar Philosophy is Universal Humanity and Love. Humanity and Love brings fortha connectivity between the Creator and the Creation which in turn gives birth to conscientious, diligent individuals that will take care of society and nature. This Spirituality creates a space and ambience to accommodate different cultures, customs, creeds, nations and not to forget religions.

Maizbhandar’s philosophy, to give a complete shape to Shahada and Ibadah, has further developed ”seven methods” that will enable devotees to attain a higher level of Gnosis to articulate greater and higher wisdom and knowledge of spiritual truth and reality.

Maizbhandari philosophy to actualize the path of Prophet Muhammad (s) evolves around a practice that triangulates Zikr (remembrance) rituals set by Hazrat Abdul Kader Jillani; Music and Dance, an inspiration from Hazrat Khwaza Moinuddin Chisti; and nuturing the universal law of nature to sustain ecology which is embedded in the wisdom of the Qu’ranic Prophet Khizir (s).

~Destiny, Fate~

‘Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be’ John Lennon, Paul McCartney

Destiny, Fate, whatever u may call it all relate to the idea that what happens to us in this life is predetermined and inescapble. Depending on your point of view it would be sad to think that we are mere robots who are unable to deviate one iota from our fixed pathway. If we have no Will, we as individuals do not really exist.

We come across numerous occasions each day where we are called upon to make ‘decisions’. The problem is that as mortals, time appears as ever flowing and unidirectional. So once we’ve made a descision and acted upon it, it seems that things couldn’t have turned out any other way. Even if we are captains of our own ships we still have no control over the forces of Nature or other ships we share the oceans with. Not that we don’t have Free Will, we do , but it’s a limited freedom. We can make choices, but those choices operate against a backdrop of circumstance over which we are powerless. And it is these externalities which we call destiny or fate.

Providence is the idea that God, or Spirit, will somehow take care of our earthly needs. It is surprising how often in troubled times the solution unexpectedly appears. This is evidence that we are part of some greater, mostly unperceived, reality; an intelligent design.

 But we should not use providence as an excuse to renounce responsibility otherwise we obviate the need for our earthly existence. We must still use our Will to the best of our ability and sometimes fate will lend a helping hand. Continue Reading »

Most people have a tendency to blur the line between Religion and Spirituality, I too was one of those people in the beginning. Till now with all the reading and research that I have done to clear the fog in my head, I came up with things that I felt are the distinctions between the Two; however this is not intended to imply one over the other.

Religion is more of an organized system of beliefs and symbols. For anything to be a Religion is has to have certain rituals and practices that are designed and believed to bring one closer to God. Spirituality on the other hand is the quest for answers to ultimate questions, and it doesn’t lead to or have any specific practices. Spirituality is more of a mystery. It is this mystical entity that shapes souls, whereas Religion shapes history. Religion is very much rooted in words and cultures and is dogmatic. Spirituality however transcends reason, language and culture and is metaphorical in nature.  Spirituality is focused more on individual growth whereas Religion focuses on establishing community.  Religion is more behavioral based and outward where Spirituality is more emotion based and inner experienced.

Spirituality is more universalizing, while Religion is more in particularizing, as in one group from another. Finally Spirituality is transformative and it trancends ego, whereas Religion is translational and it consoles the ego. It emancipates and gives a sense of place and psychological security.