Author Topic: Two Lovers, One Beloved - Margaret Laulor:  (Read 55 times)

Subramanian.R

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Two Lovers, One Beloved - Margaret Laulor:
« on: March 20, 2017, 09:20:08 AM »
(A Study in the Mysticism of Rabi'a of Basara and St. Teresa of Avila:)

There is a deep rooted kinship which exists between the souls of East and West.  As Rudolph Otto has pointed out, 'There are strong primal impulses working in the human soul which as such are completely unaffected by differences of climate, of geographical position or race,  There are show in their similarity an inner relationship of types of human experience and spiritual life which is truly astonishing.  (Otto, Rudolph, Mysticism East and West, New York  The Macmillan Co. 1932.)

When we examine the spiritual experiences of mystics like Sufi saint Rabi's of Basra and St. Teresa of Avila we discover similarities. It is the purpose of this study to present these two saints from the perspective of their practical mysticism of divine love, that our own vision and understanding may be enhanced.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: Two Lovers, One Beloved - Margaret Laulor:
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2017, 01:35:04 AM »
Before examining their respective spiritual lives and teachings, it is important to consider certain characteristics of mysticism in general.  Common to the mystical state is an experience of God, a practical experience of the most intense and personal form.
Mysticism is simultaneously an act of the highest love, an act of surrender and an act of supreme perception.  Mysticism is not to be seen as a religion in itself; but rather that which is most vital in all religions, and which revolts against merely formal and lethargic religion.  It is not a philosophical system, although it subscribes to a scheme of things. It is an entirely spiritual activity which transcends the world of senses, yet it entails a definite psychological experience.

To achieve the unitive experience, the mystic must pass from the finite to infinite, from a lower reality to the highest Reality, from a sense of the personality or ego self to being Being itself.  'Mysticism claims that the soul can undertake this tremendous journey and pass from that which is temporal to that which is Eternal, and it bases its claims on certain postulates.' (The Way of the Mystics, Margaret Smith, Oxford University Press, New York.)               

The first one states that 'the soul can see and perceive by a spiritual sense... that
inner sense which is called intuition.'  In this state one receives direct revelation and knowledge of God. 'Mysticism, then, asserts.... that knowledge is not attained only by the sense or intellect or the normal processes of consciousness, but that the highest knowledge is attained... by this spiritual sense of intuition.

Secondly, mysticism maintains that the soul, in order to know God, must itself be a partaker of the Divine Nature. In this context it can be said that there is an inward light or divine spark which seeks to reunite with Eternal Flame.

The third point makes it clear that unless the soul is 'stripped of the veils of selfishness and sensuality' it cannot attain to the knowledge of God. The act of purification requires the seeker to surrender self will, self seeking, and also to still the
senses.

Finally, mysticism sees love as the guiding principle and inspiration of the soul journeying to God.  'The mystics, throughout the ages, have conceived of the Object of their search as the Beloved, and it is as lovers that they seek for the communication of their love in union with the One.'

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Two Lovers, One Beloved - Margaret Laulor:
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2017, 09:54:13 AM »
The four points can be thought of as the Mystic Way, to be followed by all who seek the unitive experience.
There are stages of the Way; in this study a threshold division, which applies to the religious systems of both East and Wast, will be examined, particularly in the liver of Rabi'a and Teresa.  The three stages are the Purgative
life, the Illuminative life and the Unitive life. Though looking at these two mystics in a similar way and the Unitive life.  Through looking at these two mystics in a similar way we may derive a sense of Realty.

We are fortunate in having a well documented life of Teresa who was born of an aristocratic family of Avila, in
1515. In her thirteenth year she lost her mother, an experience that caused her to draw closer to the mother of Christ. She has recorded this incident in her Life:

'When I began to realize what I had lost, I went in my distress to an image of Our Lady and with many tears besought her to be a mother to me.  Though I did this in my simplicity, I believe it was of some avail to me.
For whenever I have commended myself to this Sovereign Virgin I have been conscious of her aid; and eventually she has brought me back to herself. (The Life of Teresa of Jesus, St. Teresa of Avila. Tr. E.  Alison Peers, Garden City: Image Books, 1960)/

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Two Lovers, One Beloved - Margaret Laulor:
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2017, 02:13:00 AM »
Three years later when her older half sister was no longer at home, Teresa was placed
as a boarder in a convent.  She was twenty one years old when she became a novice in the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation, Avila.

Due to laxity of the Carmelite orders at that time, she felt a call to restore a stricter rule. An unusually gifted woman, Teresa occupies a permanent place in the church's history for her successful efforts in advancing the monastic ideal.  She was an effective organizer and administrator, an insightful and independent thinker, an enduring writer, a compassionate and practical teacher and prioress, a superb judge of human characters and human nature.  She executed her many responsibilities in spite of serious and time consuming illness.  Teresa, who died in 1582, is revered rather for her innate gifts of spirit and authority.  She is considered by many to be the most popular Christian mystic and saint.   

It is held that Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, sometimes called 'a second spotless Mary', was the first saint of Islam.  It is a fact that hers is the first life from the history of Sufism to be introduced into European history.  In the thirteenth century the chancellor of Louis IX, Joinville brought a legend to Europe where her story has appeared in Western literature, with her as model of Divine Love. (Schimmel, Annamarie, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1975).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: Two Lovers, One Beloved - Margaret Laulor:
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2017, 09:50:44 AM »
Unfortunately we do not have a biography of Rabi'a written from a writer close to her time. The details of her early life which were recorded more than four hundred years later, taken from sources such as chronicles of an earlier period and treatises on Sufism, may be seen more as legend than pure history.  Nevertheless, they give us an inkling of her personality and an estimation of the regard in which later generations held her.
(Smith, Margaret, Rabi'a, the Mystic and Her Fellow Saints.  Amsterdam, Philo Press, 1974.  This study first published in 1928, is a composite of many accounts Rabi'a not written in English.  It has become the source book for most writers in English who allude to Rabi'a, and so it is in this study.

Rabi'a's dates are given as circa 99/717 to 185/801.  Her birth into a poor but noble family of Basra was said to have been marked by certain miraculous events.  On the night she was born there was neither lamp nor swaddling clothes available. Her father was not at liberty to borrow from the neighbors because as a Sufi, he could not violate his vow of depending solely on God to provide his needs.  It is said that the Prophet Muhammad appeared to him in a dream that night and spoke these words:  'Do not be sorrowful, for this daughter who is born is a great saint, whose intercession will be desired by several thousand of my community.  (ibid.  Page 5-6).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.