What is Sufism? (nimatullahi.org)

Sufism

Sufism is a school for the actualization of divine ethics. It involves an enlightened inner being, not intellectual proof; revelation and witnessing, not logic. By divine ethics, we are referring to ethics that transcend mere social convention, a way of being that is the actualization of the attributes of God.

To explain the Truth is indeed a difficult task. Words, being limited, can never really express the perfection of the Absolute, the Unbound. Thus, for those who are imperfect, words create doubt and misunderstanding. Yet:

If one cannot drink up the entire ocean,
one can drink to one’s limit.

Philosophers have written volumes and spoken endlessly of the Truth, but somehow their efforts have always fallen short. For the sufi, philosophers are those who view the Perfection of the Absolute from a limited perspective; so all they see is part of the Absolute, not the Infinite in its entirety. It is indeed true that what philosophers see is correct; nevertheless, it is only a part of the whole.

One is reminded of Rumi’s well-known story of a group of men in India who had never seen an elephant. One day they came to a place where an elephant was. In complete darkness they approached the animal, each man feeling it. Afterwards, they described what they thought they had perceived. Of course their descriptions were different. The one who felt a leg, imagined the elephant to be a pillar. The one who felt the animal’s ear, described the elephant as a fan, and so on. Each one of their descriptions with respect to the various parts they had experienced was true. However, as far as accurately describing the whole, their conceptions had all fallen short. If they had had a candle, the difference of opinions would not have come about. The candle’s light would have revealed the elephant as a whole.

Only by the light of the Spiritual Path and the mystic way can the Truth be discovered. In order for one to truly witness the Perfection of the Absolute, one must see with one’s inner being, which perceives the whole of Reality. This witnessing happens when one becomes perfect, losing one’s (partial) existence in the Whole. If the Whole is likened to the Ocean, and the part to a drop, the sufi says that witnessing the Ocean with the eye of a drop is impossible. However, when the drop becomes one with the Ocean, it sees the Ocean with the eye of the Ocean.

Contributed by Brian Wallenstein, H.W., d.

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God Regrets Never Creating Any Two-Headed Snake Creatures (theonion.com)

GodAlmightyTHE HEAVENS—Maintaining that He was overall very pleased with the creation of all things, God Almighty, Our Lord and Heavenly Father, admitted Tuesday that His biggest regret was never making a two-headed snake creature. “I always wanted to create some kind of super-poisonous snake thing with a head at either end, and maybe some freaky pitch-black eyes,” said God, adding that back when He was creating them, He spent far too much time tinkering with snakes’ “wicked” fangs and was ultimately forced to hurriedly “slap a tail on them” and move on to making lizards. “Leathery wings would be pretty cool, too. And maybe the heads would try to eat each other—damn, that would be so sweet. Know what? Fuck it—I’m whipping up one of those things.” The Lord then confirmed that in order to start on the two-headed snake initiative, He would have to sideline His current project of creating an even dumber-looking alpaca.

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Baird T. Spalding prayer

BairdTSpaulding
Baird Thomas Spalding (October 3, 1872 – March 18, 1953) was an American writer, author of the spiritual book series: Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East. Wikipedia
“The Chelas in India have a very beautiful prayer which you will note is not a beseeching prayer:
 
‘I go forth this day in all things immersed wholly in God and God’s abundance.  The conquering Christ stands forth one with God’s abundance and in every activity of this day.  Now I know that I am God’s supreme child.  I move each moment of this day immersed in God and God’s divine love.  God! God! God!  The great flame of love flows through every atom of my whole being.  I Am the pure golden flame of God.  I pour this divine flame through my physical body.  The conquering Christ salutes you, God, my Father, Peace! Peace! Peace!  The great peace of God prevails!'”
–from “Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, Vol. 5”
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Juno Successfully in Orbit Around Jupiter (jpl.nasa.gov)

NASA JPL latest news release

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft in Orbit Around Mighty JupiterAfter an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35-minute engine burn. Confirmation that the burn had completed was received on Earth at 8:53 pm. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) Monday, July 4.

“Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved.”

Confirmation of a successful orbit insertion was received from Juno tracking data monitored at the navigation facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as well as at the Lockheed Martin Juno operations center in Denver. The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA’s Deep Space Network antennas in Goldstone, California, and Canberra, Australia.

“This is the one time I don’t mind being stuck in a windowless room on the night of the Fourth of July,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The mission team did great. The spacecraft did great. We are looking great. It’s a great day.”

Preplanned events leading up to the orbital insertion engine burn included changing the spacecraft’s attitude to point the main engine in the desired direction and then increasing the spacecraft’s rotation rate from 2 to 5 revolutions per minute (RPM) to help stabilize it..

The burn of Juno’s 645-Newton Leros-1b main engine began on time at 8:18 p.m. PDT (11:18 p.m. EDT), decreasing the spacecraft’s velocity by 1,212 mph (542 meters per second) and allowing Juno to be captured in orbit around Jupiter. Soon after the burn was completed, Juno turned so that the sun’s rays could once again reach the 18,698 individual solar cells that give Juno its energy.

“The spacecraft worked perfectly, which is always nice when you’re driving a vehicle with 1.7 billion miles on the odometer,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from JPL. “Jupiter orbit insertion was a big step and the most challenging remaining in our mission plan, but there are others that have to occur before we can give the science team members the mission they are looking for.”

Over the next few months, Juno’s mission and science teams will perform final testing on the spacecraft’s subsystems, final calibration of science instruments and some science collection.

“Our official science collection phase begins in October, but we’ve figured out a way to collect data a lot earlier than that,” said Bolton. “Which when you’re talking about the single biggest planetary body in the solar system is a really good thing. There is a lot to see and do here.”

Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. With its suite of nine science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet’s auroras. The mission also will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter also can provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. JPL manages the Juno mission for NASA. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

More information on the Juno mission is available at:

http://www.nasa.gov/juno

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

http://www.facebook.com/NASAJuno

http://www.twitter.com/NASAJuno

Contributed by Hanz Bolen, H.W., M.

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Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at Oxford Union Society

EphraimMirvis

“We have a concept called teshuva.  Often it’s translated as penitence or repentance, but that’s not the real translation.  Teshuva means return, when we return to become our true selves. 

“The best way I can explain it is from the world of art.  Let’s take a great sculpture — Michelangelo’s David.  There are two ways of explaining Michelangelo’s greatness.  One way is to say that Michelangelo created David out of nothing.  What a brilliant sculptor!

“The other way of explaining it is that actually David was always inside that slab of stone.  Michelangelo’s greatness was he knew what to remove in order to reveal David who was always there.  

“That is our concept of teshuva.  We need to continuously engage in a process through which we peel away the unnecessary parts of our personalities and characters so that I can reveal the real me.

“So often I define my existence through striving to become the person I think others would like me to be.  In our tradition I think it is important that I should become the person God wants me to be, the person I’m supposed to be.  

“What is that really?  Well, I need to work it out for myself who the true me is and to enjoy being that person.  And as a result, through concentrating on myself, I can make a major impact on society.

“There’s that wonderful message which was written around about the year 1100 by an unknown monk who said, ‘At the beginning of my life I tried to change the world.  And after many years of trying, I didn’t succeed, so then I decided to change my nation.  And then after many years, I didn’t succeed at that.  And then I tried to change my town and didn’t succeed at that.  And then I tried to change my family.  I had no luck.  And by the time now that I’m an old man, I’ve decided to change myself and that’s going really well.  And so I’ve realized that I’ve wasted my life.  I really should have started out life trying to change myself.  And had I changed myself, that would have made a direct impact on my family.  And my family in turn would have made that positive impact on my town.  And my town upon my nation.  And my nation upon the world.’

“And that’s what our religion teaches.  We can change the world if we change ourselves.  If we are responsible towards our real selves.”

–Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (born 1956) is an Orthodox rabbi who serves as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. He is a Talmudic scholar having studied in Israeli yeshivot. He was born near Johannesburg, South Africa. He currently lives with his wife in Finchley, London. In December 2012 he was designated as the next Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and began work in this post on 1 September 2013. He was Senior Rabbi to the Finchley Synagogue, regarded to be a strongly pastoral leader, with a focus on traditional Judaism. He previously served as the Chief Rabbi of Ireland.

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