A Jewel in Our Midst

"And now Islam is with us in the United States and throughout the West — a jewel in our midst. It is a religion that brings each generation to a God-consciousness that fosters all that is human. Whether we are lay or religious, Christian or Muslim, we cannot afford to delegate this dialogue to specialists, academics, political and military generals. We must bow our heads and bend our knees and, upon rising, extend our hands. We are friends."
Islam Is… An Experience of Dialogue and Devotion

Sufism, the Way of Love

"I feel I have an affinity with Sufi devotees. Their practices have heightened God-consciousness and have inspired some of the greatest religious poetry and music ever written. When I am with Sufis and participate in the prayer to our same God, I feel their intensity. Some of that intensity's exuberance seems more like the Christian charismatic movements than the low-key, everyday chant of the monastic choir. Nevertheless, the sober phases of Sufism seem like a great 'fit' with my own love for Our Lord, Jesus Christ — through our daily inner conversations. Sufism is a way of love."
Islam Is… An Experience of Dialogue and Devotion


"The most telling indication that we are in the grip of vainglory is revealed in daydreams, excessive imagining of situations where we are the center of attention. Through the practice of watchfulness, we need to stay in the present moment, noticing subtle signs of boasting, of being competitive, of telling remarkable tales about ourselves, of seeking and taking credit, of playing the role of the hero.

"We must continually edit, redirect, and change thoughts about ourselves that are either high (praise) or low (dejection). The practice of humility is to think about myself exactly as I am. Vainglory intoxicates the mind."
Tools Matter For Practicing the Spiritual Life

Humility Matters

"Humility matters. It is at the core of our experience of life in Christ. So central is this quality of being that it may be said that humility is for a Christian what enlightenment is for a Buddhist, realization is for a Hindu, sincerity is for a Confucian, righteousness is for a Jew, surrender is for a Muslim and annihilation is for a Sufi. Humility is what others see of our purity of heart."
Humility Matters for Practicing the Spiritual Life

Guard of the Heart

"When we guard our heart, we refrain from being in contact with energies that will interfere with our effort to pray ceaselessly and eventually with our experience of God's presence. We cannot engage in ceaseless prayer and simultaneously engage in afflictive thoughts and emotions. So, guard of the heart prevents easy entry of any disturbance into our heart. It requires us to take control of what goes in and what the heart has to 'feel.'

"Guard of the heart is a practice that is most helpful once we've made a resolution about something. When we want strongly to follow through with our resolution we should guard our heart from doubt and from counter experiences that move us away from our resolve. The fruit of guard of the heart is a heart full of strength and commitment to our vocation, our work, and our relationships. Since the heart provides us our innermost experience of 'being with' God, we should guard all our choices to 'be with' God."
Tools Matter For Practicing the Spiritual Life

Rooting Out Anger from Our Hearts

"The thought of 'about anger' rises in each one of us. Anger is a response that is frequent, habitual, and sometimes seems apparently uncontrollable. We often adjust to bouts of anger in ourselves and in others. John Cassian recognized that in order to live the spiritual life, we must reduce our angry impulses, refrain from acting out our anger, and strive to resist even the thought of anger. According to the desert fathers and mothers, anger is a learned behavior and can be unlearned. This Christian teaching says we act rightly and justly, never out of angry feelings."
Thoughts Matter: The Practice of the Spiritual Life

Negate Nothing

"'Negate nothing,' say the early masters of the Christian way. Though it may seem ironic, it is important to understand this in the practice of renunciation. Nothing is negated. What is, is! We acknowledge the reality of all that we are invited to renounce: our erring passions, our ideas of God, and our self-made sense of self. Humility is standing in the truth of being. Because we already have what we are looking for — the direct experience of our living awareness — we renounce what is not and so, negate nothing.

These teachings about renunciation are tools that the desert elders gave to serious seekers who desired to live life in conscious awareness rather than living heedlessly. These renunciations are described in many classics of spirituality."
Humility Matters for Practicing the Spiritual Life