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Paths to the Heart: Sufism and the Christian East by James Cutsinger

By James Cutsinger

First of its style ebook promotes a non secular discussion among Christian and Muslims.

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Extra resources for Paths to the Heart: Sufism and the Christian East

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7-8. 24 St Seraphim of Sarov in Sufic Perspective ruptive tendencies are understood to involve an arduous struggle, which is referred to in the Christian East as “the hidden martyrdom”, and in Islam as “the greater jihad”, with Paradise as the reward. A seeker wishing to undertake this most serious and noble of pursuits takes guidance from a master. The words starets in Russian, geron in Greek, and shaykh in Arabic all refer to an elder capable of guiding an aspirant, someone who knows the Way and its pitfalls.

Similarly, a Sufi order is called a tarîqah, which is also translated as a way, and the aim of both ways is theosis or divinization. We are asked to become who we already are—beings made in God’s image. Neither way envisions this transmutation as a substitute for the rites or sacraments enjoined by the exoteric frameworks of Christianity and Islam, but each of them deepens and intensifies the spiritual life through specific additional practices. Central to both is the invocation of a sacred name—usually Jesus or Allah—which is either used on its own or is found contained within other formulations.

Once the heart has been softened and is polished, it may be described not only as a mirror but also as an eye which has opened and which can now see the Invisible Realm, just as the physical eyes are able to see the external world. The symbol of the “eye of the heart” (‘ayn al-qalb in Arabic or chishm-i dil in Persian) is not confined to Islam but is universal, as we see in Plato’s expression “eye of soul”, St Augustine’s oculus cordis, or the “third eye” of Hindu and Buddhist doctrines. But it is especially emphasized in Sufism.

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