Friday, April 4, 2008

Meditation among the Sufis

Since the time of the prophet Mohammed in the seventh century A.D., Sufis have worn the garments of Islam. But, according to the American-born Sufi teacher Shabda Kahn, their roots go back much farther, beyond Mohammed or Buddha or other famous teachers, to the first awakened person. Sufis claim to be a fellowship of mystical seekers whose sole purpose is to realize the Divine in their own hearts. The forms of Sufism have varied from century to century and teacher to teacher and from one geographical location to another, but the basic teaching is the same: There is nothing but God. Meditation in Sufism generally takes the form of chanting a sacred phrase, either silently or out loud, while breathing deeply and rhythmically — a practice known as zikr, “remembrance of the Divine.” Kahn explains that Sufis retranslate the biblical beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit” to “Blessed are those who have a refined breath.” When the Sufi has cultivated and refined the breath, he or she can use it as a method for surrendering to the divine presence in each moment — with every breath.

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