Tag: sufism

The Secrets of Tantric Buddhism, by Thomas Cleary

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The Secrets of Tantric Buddhism, by Thomas ClearyThe Secrets of Tantric Buddhism, by Thomas ClearyThe Secrets of Tantric Buddhism: Understanding the Ecstasy of Enlightenment, by Thomas Cleary Weiser Books, 9781578635689, 226 pp., 1998, 2014The Secrets of Tantric Buddhism is collection of 46 writings from more than 20 prominent siddhis within the Carya-Gira from the 10th century, translated by Thomas Cleary. The mystic poets discuss the nature of reality, the processes of the self, and the path to enlightenment, often framed as the relationship between the practitioner, and a beloved partner (representing at different times reality, self, or enlightenment). These writings are a form of mystic poetry, not surprisingly very reminiscent of the Bhakti devotional mystical poetry from Bengal.Cleary does a great job with translating the poetry, always a more difficult text than translating prose, especially when the poetry is focused towards an abstract mystical understanding. Each section contains the poem as a whole, and then over the course of the next few pages it is pulled apart and built upon a few lines at a time. While the book comes with an introduction, I wish Cleary had spent more time explaining who the poets were, as well as his process of translation. Read More

Initiation and Islamic gnosis

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Dusk at the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei on the eve of Ramadan, photo by tylerdurden1“We must not consider gnosis as a religion among others, but as the heart of all religions,” said Allamah Tabataba’i, one of leading Shi’ite Muslim thinkers and clerics of the 20th century. “Gnosis is one of the paths of worship, a path based on knowledge combined with love, rather than fear. It is the path for realizing the inner truth of religion rather than remaining satisfied only with its external form and rational thought.”The sentiment was echoed not long ago, at the end of December 2014, by Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Alavi-Gorgani. “We should not think that unity is only for Muslims,” the he proclaimed, “God wants us to have unity with other religions as well.” What made Grand Ayatollah Alavi-Gorgani’s statement even more remarkable is that it was made in response to -- and as a criticism of -- atrocities carried out in Iraq against Yazidis and Christians by the terrorist militia calling itself ISIS. Read More

Review: T.A.Z., by Hakim Bey

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T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, by Hakim Bey
Autonomedia, 0936756764, anti-copyright 1985, 1991

Have a couple of dictionaries standing by, or be sure to have a few dozen bookmarked online while reading this, for if you’re to appreciate Bey’s prose, you’re likely to need ’em. He writes in a strange way, obviously highly intelligent, but rambling, and if you’re not quite sure what he’s on about, it’s just going to seem worse.

There are a lot of ideas in here, based on things I’m not very familiar with, such as Sufism and dadism – some of which are at least partially explained, but this is one of those books you need to read, and then come back to later and see how it compares. Certainly on the first go struggling somewhat to get a feel for how his mind works on paper.

It’s a very inspiring work, which he may loathe to hear, but I intend to do something about it. I recommend reading it to anyone interested in expanding their interests and testing the limits of one’s mind. Agreeing with everything he presents isn’t necessary, but thinking about it is – doing even better. Highly recommended reading.