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The Power of Water & Light, on this Night (the “missing” Wednesday post, w/Eid links) April 21, 2023

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Books, Changing Perspectives, Faith, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Hope, Lent, Life, Music, Mysticism, One Hoop, Peace, Philosophy, Ramadan, Religion, Science, Wisdom, Yoga.
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“Eid Mubarak, Blessed Festival!” to anyone who is (or was) celebrating. Many blessings to anyone Counting the Omer or celebrating/observing Eastertide / the Octave of Easter! “Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating “the Most Great Festival.”

This is a “missing” post for Wednesday, April 19th. Scroll to the bottom to find links related to Eid-al Fitr. You can request an audio recording of this practice (or any of the related practices) via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.

Check out the “Class Schedules” calendar for upcoming classes.)

“Kuraib reported that Ibn ‘Abbas spent a night in the house of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and he said: The Messenger of Allah may peace be upon him) stood near the water-skin and poured water out of that and performed ablution in which he neither used excess of water nor too little of it, and the rest of the hadith is the same, and in this mention is also made (of the fact) that on that night the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made supplication before Allah in nineteen words. Kuraib reported: I remember twelve words out of these, but have forgotten the rest. The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Place light in my heart, light in my tongue, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light above me, light below me, light on my right, light on my left, light in front of me, light behind me, place light in my soul, and make light abundant for me.’”

– Sahih Muslim 7673 (Book 4, Hadith Muslim 1680)

In some ways, Wednesday’s practice picked up in the middle of the Tuesday practices – with a look at what we do (or what we can do) when we are waiting for something powerful. This time, the focus was on connecting with the power of the elements. Just like so many other teachers (and poets, not to mention health care practitioners), I often recommend connecting with the elements. In fact, I recommend connecting with the elements all around you – as well as the elements (and the way they show up) inside you and in the practice. Light and water (as well as wind), are elements that are often associated with certain physical practices of yoga. For example, in our vinyasa practice, we move (or “flow”) like water to the pace of our breath as we “salute” the sun (or the moon). Light and water (as well as wind) also show up in different religious practices. They show up, um, in their element and they also show up as symbols. They show up in various sacred texts and they also show up in various rituals.

One of the things I find interesting is that just as science uses similar language to explore and investigate all three (e. g. waves), different religions use similar language and context with regard to light and water (as well as wind). I have mentioned before how water is associated with wisdom in Hasidic Jewish traditions and, also, how “the spirit that lives on the water” is a concept that shows up in the Abrahamic religions as well as in indigenous religions, medicine, and philosophy from around the world. In other practices, I have focused on how water takes the shape of its container (or boundaries) and how, when it moves, it is also powerful enough to change the shape of that which contains it. Similarly, I have focused on how water is associated with so many different creation stories – including stories from India, China, Hawaii, and the First Nations – and how rituals and traditions that celebrate those stories rely heavily on water. Sometimes, however, we are missing the context.

Recently, a friend told me about an incredible water-related ritual they experienced in Thailand. After sharing the story, they lamented that we didn’t have such practices here in the United States. To which I responded that of course we do! It’s all about context. Consider the ritual washing of hands and feet in Judaism, as well as practices around the Mikveh (or mikvah). Consider the practice of baptism, winter swimming, and the significance of holy water in Christianity. Consider ritual washing in Islām and how (like in Judaism) there are certain prayers that are said before washing hands and certain that are said after ablutions.

Part of what makes an experience powerful is the connection to the elements. Part of the power, however, comes from the knowledge (and one’s belief in the knowledge).

The highlighted quote above and the following post appeared on the blog as a “renewed” post in April 2022. Some syntax and links have been updated. (NOTE: Some embedded links will take you outside of the blog.)

“‘Remember, dear friend, that I am subtly inherent in everything, everything in the universe! I am the all-illuminating light of the sun, the light in the moon, the brilliance in the fire – all light is Mine. I am even the consciousness of light, and indeed, I am the consciousness of the entire cosmos.’”

– The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners (15:12) by Jack Hawley

Yoga Sutra 1.36: viśokā vā jyotişmatī

– “Or [fixing the mind] on the inner state free of sorrow and infused with light, anchors the mind in stability and tranquility.”

In Huffington Post “Ramadān Reflection” in 2012, Imam Khalid Latif mentioned the importance of searching for the Night of Power when it comes to the last days of Ramadān. My understanding is that, regardless of our faith or overall beliefs, we have to actively participate in our fate and in our practices. We have to actively seek in order to find. So, while, I could point out all the different ways in which “light” comes up in different religious and spiritual practices, while I could outline a little comparative analysis between the sacred texts of the Abrahamic religions and songs by Yusuf IslamSantana and EverlastMatisyahu, and the Maccabeats, I’m not going to do it. Instead, I’m going to encourage you to seek and see what you find.

True, you can follow the links (above) and maybe find something new (or remember something you had forgotten). However, more than anything, I encourage you to sit with your own history and tradition for a moment and consider what comes up. How does light come up? When and where does light come up? How do your internalized references to light compare to those I’ve mentioned (above and below)? How do you describe those moments when you put your light on and let it shine?

2023: Now ask yourself the same questions about water.

“I used to trust nobody, trusting even less their words,
Until I found somebody, there was no one I preferred,
My heart was made of stone, my eyes saw only misty grey,
Until you came into my life girl, I saw everyone that way.
Until I found the one I needed at my side,
I think I would have been a sad man all my life.

I think I see the light coming to me,
Coming through me giving me a second sight.
So shine, shine, shine,
Shine, shine, shine,
Shine, shine, shine.”

– from “I Think I See the Light” by Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam

As I recently (and virtually) discussed with two dear friends (as well as in classes), the similarities between the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – is no coincidence. These traditions share historical, spiritual, and liturgical roots. How do we explain, however, these same similarities when they come up in non-Abrahamic religions? Yes, yes, the cynical parts of us can say that language and customs were co-opted in order for missionaries to more easily conquer and convert. But, how do we explain that the elemental foundations – the opportunity to co-opt – already existed? How do we explain, for instance, the focus on light other than it is a fundamental and universal experience? We can be cynical for days, but at some point we have to “step into the light, baby.”

 “‘O Allah ! place light in my heart, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light on my right, light on my left, light in front of me, light behind me, light above me, light below me, make light for me,’ or he said: ‘Make me light.’”

 –  Sahih Muslim  7673 (Book 4 Hadith Muslim 1677)

Wednesday playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “Ramadan 2023”]

Two quick notes about the music: First, while the most of the musicians featured on the playlists during these final days of Ramadān are Muslim there are some exceptions. One of the notable exceptions – notable, because she is the only female soloist and the only non-Muslim singer on the list – is Reba McEntire. Her song “Pray for Peace” is on the playlist because she re-released it during the month of Ramadān in 2014 – but not just randomly in the month, the song was released in the last ten days of the month! Second, there are some songs on the playlist that are Nasheeds (meaning they are religiously moral songs) that, in some traditions, are meant to be sung without instrumentation or only with percussion. I have, however, included orchestrated versions of these songs, because this seems to have worked best in an in-studio setting. I mean no disrespect by this choice. As far as I know, percussion or voice only recordings of each song are available (if you want to build your own playlist). Alternatively, you can practice without the music.

One more musical note can be found at the bottom of the Tuesday post.

Looking for posts related to the end of the holy month of Ramadān?

Click on “That’s the Eid” for a 2020 reflection about what happens when you focus for a month and then, suddenly stop.

Click on “That’s Eid” for a brief 2021 post about Ramadān and what happens when the holy month ends.

### OHR OR DAW ###


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