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Other Perspectives

A Jewish Perspective

An imagined hasidic master, Reb Yerachmiel ben Yisrael writes to his student who has moved from the old country to America:

"It rained heavily during the night, and our village is thick with mud. I walked to the Beit Midrash (House of Learning) this morning and stopped to watch a group of little children playing in a puddle of mud.

They sat in the puddle, oblivious to the damp, and made dozens of mud figures: houses, animals, and towers. From their talk it was clear that they imagined an identity for each: a story that told the figure's past and foretold its future.

For a while the mud figures took on independence, a life separate and unique. But they are still just mud. Mud is their source, and mud is their substance.

From the perspective of the children wrapped up in the play of separate figures their mud creations had separate selves. From the point of view of a casual observer it is clear that the separate self is an illusion, that in fact they are all just mud.

It is the same with us and God: "Adonai (the Lord) alone is God in heaven above and on earth below, there is none else" (Deuteronomy 4:39). Ayn od -- there is none else -- meaning that there is nothing else in heaven or on earth but God.

Can this be? When I look at the world I do not see God. I see trees of varying kinds, people of all types, houses, fields, lakes, cows, horses, chickens, and on and on. In this I am like the children at play seeing real figures and not simply mud. Where in all this is God?

Some would argue that God is a divine spark inside each being, some would say only within human beings. Others would argue that God is above and outside creation. But I teach neither position.

God is not inside or outside, God is the very thing itself! And when there is no thing, but only empty space? God is that as well."

Also, from, the non-dual point of view, the first two of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20: 1-7) are extremely powerful non-dual statements, i.e., neither permitting images before the "I" sense, nor allowing the use of the subject "I" together with an identity to images.

From, Open Secrets: The Letters of Reb Yerachniel ben Yisrael, by Rami M. Shapiro

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An Islamic Perspective

The Islamic Call to Prayer, referred to as Adhan (Azaan), is an important part of Islamic devotional life. Ahan is recited by a professional muezzin who is chosen to serve at the mosque for his good character, voice and skills.

Adhan is called out from a minaret of a mosque five times a day (Sunni Islam) or three times a day (Shi'a Islam) summoning Muslims for mandatory prayers. When calling to prayer, the muezzin faces each of the four compass directions in turn.

There is a very beautiful phrase in the Call to Prayer that is well worth the attention of all spiritually aware people. In Arabic, the phrase is: "La 'illaha il' Allahu."

Since the root of the name for God, Allah, is the same as the word for What Is, the phrase can be translated any number of ways, all of them correct.

"There is no God but God."
"There is no reality but God.
"There is nothing which is not God."
"All there is, is What Is."
"What Is, is God."