Reynold Ruslan Feldman, Ph.D. - Author, Editor, Nonprofit Consultant, Wisdom Coach
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The Dangers of Mysticism
Kneedy No More?
Right Use of Money
Don't Worry! Be Happy!
Not the Team or the League But the Sport

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The Dangers of Mysticism

Mysticism is dangerous. But first, you ask, what is mysticism? There are lots of definitions. My personal favorite, by the 20-Century British writer on the subject Evelyn Underhill, is “mysticism is first-person religion.” To paraphrase the rationalist Thomas Paine, Revelation is only for the person who received it. For everyone else it is mere hearsay. Yet at least the three Abrahamic religions are based on revelations to others. We “believers” are simply takingtheirexperiences on faith. Our religions are thus third-person affairs.

Talking More Turkey


It’s Wednesday, June 8. Evening. Back at our by now tried-and-true Hesperia Fera Suites in a cloudy and cool Barcelona. The manager recognized us and made sure we got a room with an exterior view this time. Nice! Anyway, it’s time to talk a little more Turkey. 

First, a few words about Mustafa Kemal, better known as Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey in 1923. There are statues of him everywhere. No village is too small. The Turkish Government, to honor him, made it illegal for anyone else to ever bear the surname Ataturk.

The True Teacher

Asian cultures are famously respectful of teachers. The Chinese characters for the term are “old” + “soul,” even on the Mainland. The Japanese sensei is also used as the most honorific form of address. The prime minister, for example, is called sensei. And nowadays in the West no one needs to explain the respect contained in the East Indian term guru. Yet Asian traditions also understand the limitations of even the most outstanding human teacher. One of the sayings of the Buddha has him telling his monks, “Do not believe what your teacher tells you out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings—that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.” Twelve hundred years later, the great Hindu sage Shankara wrote, “A clear vision of Reality may be obtained only through our own eyes, when they have been opened by spiritual insight—never through the eyes of some other seer. Through our own eyes we learn what the moon looks like: How could we learn this through the eyes of others?” My spiritual guide, the Javanese mystic Muhammad Subuh (d. 1987), once said of his role in bringing the Subud spiritual practice to us was like that of a school janitor who straightens up the classroom, cleans the blackboard, and makes sure there’s an adequate supply of chalk and erasers. But our true teacher, he said, is the Great Life Force itself, or God, who would act in each of us directly. So the True Teacher is not someone out there but rather, like Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven, something within. Our job, then, is to sit down at our inner desk and learn. Uh oh! I think the school bell just rang.
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