Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: An interview with Imam Jamal Rahman.
When stillness emerges
A universe opens
The inward gaze becomes witness
To an ocean of movement
Enticing the soul to plunge in,
And surrender to its depth and beauty.
The Buddha turns his gaze inward,
Jesus cries Abba,
Rumi dances in spirals of ecstatic LOVE,
And poets everywhere
Become the prisoners of boundless Adoration.
Where does loneliness dwell if there is solitude?
What power of LOVE ignites the blaze in darkness?
What does a flame unmoving in stillness reveal?
Slowly the mystery unravels,
Each time revealing just another enticing foretaste,
Of a horizon bursting with boundless layers of light within.
Each time pulling us into the deepest LOVE,
Each time pulling us into the irresistible LOVE,
Each time revealing that there is only LOVE.
May 16, 2016
Cada dia que pasa
Veo el milagro de Dios en todo;
Y cada día que vivo,
No entendiendo el por qué,
Al caminar por un milagro,
Los que me rodean
Marchan en absoluta ceguera del milagro.
Me rodea un torbellino de prisa,
Un corre corre ansioso sin rumbo
Masas de carne y hueso,
Que se mueven de un lugar al otro
Sin destino, sin rumbo, sin vida;
Sus pasos camino a la sobrevivencia que ahoga;
En medio de todo
Percibo la sublime soberanía
Situada en todo;
Diviso la danza de cada átomo
Nutrido por el milagro que nos rodea.
¿Por qué rehúsan doblar la rodilla
Y rendir honor y reverencia?
¿Por qué insisten,
En comer del árbol prohibido,
Y quedar esclavos del dolor y el sufrimiento?
¿Qué locura es esta?
Cada día que pasa
Veo el milagro de Dios en todo,
Y mi ser desmaya.
¿Hasta cuando Dios mío?
¿Hasta cuando la locura,
De vivir en el mundo
De los ciegos a tu belleza?
24 de Mayo, 2016
There is a dance of little angels
That hear the song of God
And they’ve discovered a grand space
In the beating heart.
There in that place,
In-between the eternal spaces of every beat,
They make their dance,
In exaltation of the Most High.
The currents that run through that place
Carry the Breeze of God
That we call Spirit…
Breath of Life
The name of God
With every inhalation
The dance continues;
With every exhalation
The dance expands,
And the streams of Love
Disperse and travel
Through the entire body of a mortal soul,
And the earthly touches the infinite.
O mortal friend,
Do you not
hear the song of God between the heart beats?
Can you not sense the feet of little angels in their dance,
There in the infinite spaces of your heart?
O mortal friend,
Didn’t you know that there in your heart,
Can be found the salons
Where little angels congregate?
There is a great feast of adoration,
With every beat of the heart,
How long will you remain outside?
Feast Day of Saint Mark the Evangelist
April 25th, 2016
Hay una danza de angelitos
Que escuchan la canción de Dios
Y han descubierto un gran espacio
En el corazón que late.
Ahí en ese lugar
Entre los espacios eternos de cada latir,
Hacen su danza
En alabanza al Altísimo.
Las corrientes que pasan por ese lugar
Cargan la Brisa de Dios
Que llamamos Espíritu…
El soplo de Vida
El Nombre de Dios
Con cada inhalación
La danza continua;
Con cada exhalación
La danza se expande,
Y las corrientes de Amor
Se dispersan y viajan
Por todo el cuerpo de un ser mortal,
Y lo terrenal toca lo infinito.
O amigo mortal,
¿Escuchas la canción de Dios entre los latidos?
¿Sientes los piecitos de los ángelitos en su danza,
Ahí en los espacios sempiternos de tu corazón?
O amiga mortal,
¿No sabias que ahí en tu corazón
Se encuentran los salones
En donde se congregan los angelitos?
Hay una gran fiesta de alabanza,
Con cada latir del corazón,
O amigo, O amiga,
¿Hasta cuando te quedaras afuera?
25 de Abril
Día de San Marcos el Evangelista
A talk delivered by The Rev. Wilfredo Benitez at the Holi Festival, Queens Museum.
Happy Holi and Earth Day to all our friends. I bring you Easter greetings from historic Saint George’s Church founded in the village of Flushing in the year 1702 of the Common Era. Saint George’s Church is a plethora of diversity in celebration of the wonderful mosaic of peoples from all over the earth, that reside in the village of Flushing, the most multicultural location in these United States of America. It is a joy to be here with the Hindu Temple Society of North America, the Queens Museum, and all our distinguished guests and performers as we honor the arrival of Spring in this Holi celebration, and we celebrate the endless bounty of fruit, provided by our mother earth.
Not unlike the Holi Festival, the Easter celebration that the church celebrates also begins with the lighting of a fire, which will eventually light the Paschal candle that marks the passage from darkness to light, and from death to life. When we begin to go beneath the surface of our world religions, we begin to discover commonality, and common themes.
Easter is a joyful colorful time, and what could be more colorful than the Hindu Holi celebration where people in India take to splashing each other with powders that reflect the colors and joy of Spring. These Spring colors represent the triumph of good over evil, as does the resurrection narrative in the Christian faith.
Holi, from my limited understanding is also a time of gratitude for all the gifts and bounty that come to us from our mother Earth. We welcome the arrival of Spring in the deepest and most hallowed humility, recognizing that all of life is a gift, and that the beauty and splendor of nature comes to us from a Higher Sacred Source. We are reminded in a festival such as this that we are all stewards of the earth, called to care for the earth, and not to trample upon it, for selfish ends. The care of the earth, and its preservation, is something that all the great religions of the world advocate. This is an area of faith that we should never ignore. We live in a time of incessant technological advances that often disregard the consequences to the planet, and even our very own existence, and Holi is a reminder to us that there is a perfect order to the universe, and our planet, that should never be tampered with.
We’ve been entertained today with dances and music from different parts of the world, dances and music that illustrate the endless variety of soulful Spirit contained in all the peoples of the earth, and these are gifts that reflect the Divine in all of us. Where there is joy, there is music and dance, where there is Spring, there is celebration.
For myself, I can’t tell you enough what joy the season of Spring represents. As I eagerly watch the branches of trees in anticipation of the first signs of new life, I’m filled with elation. As I watch the birth of new leaves and flowers sprouting from the ground, my heart rejoices, and something in my soul is restored. The dreary cold Winter starts to fade into the sunset, and a new sense of anticipation over takes me. I am reminded once again that this is the passage from death and darkness, to life and light.
This Holi gathering, in honor of our mother Earth, in the context of people from all over the world, is yet another sign that we are moving from darkness to light as one humanity with an incredible diversity, all interconnected to one another, and one Eternal Source of Life.
However, our mother Earth is suffering, and not all of her children have behaved in the most enlightened manner. The one single issue that affects all of human and animal life on our planet today is global warming. Our earth is warming at an alarming rate, and as stewards entrusted with the sacred care of our living planet, we cannot turn a blind eye to the consequences. Our great religions call us to care for one another, to uphold each other as brothers and sisters, and in the measure that we turn a blind eye to the plight of our only known living home, this incredible planet earth, we fail to honor all that is holy in Hinduism, in Buddhism, in Judiasm, in Christianity, in Islam, or any other great religion of the world.
We cannot celebrate the earth without assuming responsibility for the care of the earth. For too long our species has been reckless, and it’s time to turn this trend around. We also have a responsibility to the endless variety of life on this planet, the birds in the air, the creatures on the ground, the fish in the sea, the plants and trees that provide our oxygen, and even the tiniest of living microscopic organisms that permeate our world. Everything in creation has a place, and it is our sacred duty to honor this, and not impede its sustainability.
Holi, like Easter is a celebration of the victory of life over death, and Life in the end, is the most powerful force in the universe. Ultimately, there is no destruction that can come to LIFE, and it is in the deepest humility that we are all called to come to this recognition.
When we celebrate the coming of Spring, and the arrival of new life, we celebrate and regenerate our very souls. The sunrise of Spring, is a sunrise in our very hearts, it is like the song of a singing bird on our very sentiments, calling us to arise, to breath LIFE and to celebrate its beauty and holiness.
Signs of Life abound, all we need to do is to look around us; we see these signs in nature, but we too are living proof that life is more powerful than death. In a day and age where many cease upon religion to divide the world, and some commit acts of terror in the name of God, we are living proof in this space, right here and right now, that our faith traditions are about unity, and the respect of the dignity of every human being. This gathering is not an anomaly, this gathering is the essence of our faith traditions, and the colors of Holi remind us of the beauty contained in our great diversity; for in the end, our diversity is but a mere reflection of the endless beauty of God; and we as people of faith, embrace this gift.
So, let us continue to celebrate the arrival of Spring, let us continue to celebrate Holi and Easter,; let us continue to celebrate our mother Earth, and our wonderful ever expanding diversity. Let’s take a moment to be in gratitude for all the gifts that come to us in life, our friends and families, our faith traditions, our democratic freedoms, the joy of sunrise, and the green that is beginning to sprout all around us. Let’s celebrate the power of Life over death, and say no to all those voices of deception that refuse to acknowledge that our journey on the face of this earth is ultimately about Life and Living.
Let’s continue to celebrate our Mother Earth, embedded with endless spirals of mystery all pointing back to the unifying Unknown that connects everything in Creation. Let’s take a moment in gratitude for the opportunity to be in each other’s company, for we are in the company of the Divine. Happy Holi and Happy Easter!
What a gift it is to me, to celebrate this Easter Sunday within the context of the Holi festival, and our sacred mother earth. This day will remain in my heart as yet another example of the power of life over death, and the beauty of God’s creation. This day will remain in my heart, as a living example of the gift of our diversity, and the endless faces of God on this earth. Blessings and grace to all of us, Happy Easter, and Happy Holi.
Speech delivered at the Queens Museum on Easter Sunday, March 27th, 2016, in celebration of the Hindu Holi festival.
March 27th, 2016