id that we can, too.
This leads us to three vital practices that help us connect to these Three Faces:
The 3rd-person Infinite Face is accessed through reflection ABOUT the Divine.
The 2nd-person Intimate Face is accessed through devotional prayer TO God.
The 1st-person Inner Face is accessed through meditation AS God, the realization that I am one with God.
In reflection, we contemplate the glory of creation, from quarks to the infinite cosmos. We think deeply about the Unmanifest as well as the manifest world. This can move us into praise, worship, awe, and mystical immersion in all of nature itself. This is the home of nature mysticism.
Prayer has a long, traditional and mystical history in Christianity as devotion, conversation, and communion with God, frequently addressed as a deity form. Prayer is often expressed by spoken or inward mental words addressed to God in a 2nd-person, personal way. It can also involve chanting, dancing, glossolalia, and other devotional forms. Prayer is the home of deity mysticism.
Meditation, in an integrally-informed Christian framework, focuses on the progressive quieting of the mind, leading to detachment from all forms and a realization of our nondual True Self, our Oneness with God, I Amness. While Christian prayer focuses on our relating to God who is the Divine Other, Christian meditation centers on our identification as God - I am one with all that God is. We may think of prayer as operating in the subtle realm of forms, while mediation ventures into the causal realm of formless emptiness (or “fullness” as we may also experience it). This is the home of formless mysticism.
nt. They would go on to corner the world's multitrillion-dollar oil market, reaping unimaginable riches while bringing the economy to its knees. Meet the self-anointed kings of the New York Mercantile Exchange. In some ways, they are everything you would expect them to be: a secretive, members-only club of men and women who live lavish lifestyles; cavort with politicians, strippers, and celebrities; and blissfully jacked up oil prices to nearly $150 a barrel while profiting off the misery of the working class. In other ways, they are nothing you can imagine: many come from working-class families themselves. The progeny of Jewish, Irish, and Italian immigrants who escaped war-torn Europe, they take pride in flagrantly spurning Wall Street. Under the thumb of an all-powerful international oil cartel, the energy market had long eluded the grasp of America's hungry capitalists. Neither the oil royalty of Houston nor the titans of Wall Street had ever succeeded in fully wresting away control. But facing extinction, the rough-and-tumble traders of Nymex led by the reluctant son of a produce merchant went after this Goliath and won, creating the world's first free oil market and minting billions in the process. Their stunning journey from poverty to prosperity belies the brutal and violent history that is their legacy. For the first time, The Asylum unmasks the oil market's self-described "inmates" in all their unscripted and dysfunctional glory: the happily married father from Long Island whose lust for money and power was exceeded only by his taste for cruel pranks; the Italian kung fu fighting gasoline trader whose ferocity in the trading pits earned him countless millions; the cheerful Nazi hunter who traded quietly by day and ambushed Nazi sympathizers by night; and the Irish-born femme fatale who outsmarted all but one of the exchange's chairmen the Hungarian emigre who, try as he might, could do nothing to rein in the oil market's unruly inhabitants. From the treacherous boardroom schemes to the hookers and blow of the trading pits; from the repeat terrorist attacks and FBI stings to the grand alliances and outrageous fortunes that brought the global economy to the brink, The Asylum ventures deep into the belly of the beast, revealing how raw ambition and the endless quest for wealth can change the very nature of both man and market. Showcasing seven years of research and hundreds of hours of interviews, Leah McGrath Goodman reveals what really happened behind the scenes as oil prices topped out and what choice the traders ultimately made when forced to choose between their longtime brotherhood and their precious oil monopoly.…
ical dilemmas that demanded the authority of religious answers.
Sunni expansion and leadership
Sunni Islam responded with the emergence of four popular schools of thought on religious jurisprudence (fiqh). These were set down in the 7th and 8th centuries CE by the scholars of the Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki and Shaafii schools. Their teachings were formulated to find Islamic solutions to all sorts of moral and religious questions in any society, regardless of time or place and are still used to this day.
The Ummayad dynasty was followed by the Abbasid dynasty (c. 758-1258 CE). In these times the Caliphs, in contrast to the first four, were temporal leaders only, deferring to religious scholars (or uleama) for religious issues.
Sunni Islam continued through the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties to the powerful Mughal and Ottoman empires of the 15th to 20th centuries. It spread east through central Asia and the Indian sub-continent as far as the Indonesian archipelago, and west towards Africa and the periphery of Europe. The Sunnis emerged as the most populous group and today they make up around 85% of the one billion Muslims worldwide.
Shi'a expansion and leadership
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Shi'a community continued with 'Imams' believed to be divinely appointed from the Prophet's Family. Unlike the Sunni Caliphs, the Shi'a Imams generally lived in the shadow of the state and were independent of it. The largest sect of Shi'a Islam is known as The Twelvers, because of their belief that twelve divinely appointed Imams descended from the Prophet in the line of Ali and Hussein, led the community until the 9th century CE.
Shi'a imams according to the Twelve are shown in blue
Muhammad al-Muntazar al-Mahdi was the Twelfth Imam. The Shi'a believe that as a young boy, he was hidden in a cave under his father's house in Samarra to avoid persecution. He disappeared from view, and according to Shi'a belief, has been hidden by God until he returns at the end of time. This is what Shi'as call the Major Occultation. The Shi'a believe this Twelfth Imam, or Mahdi or Messiah, is not dead and will return to revive the true message of Islam. His disappearance marked the end of the leadership of the direct descendants of the Prophet.
(Note: While the information provided is the position of the largest Shi'a subdivision, that of The Twelvers, other Shi'a groups, such as the Ismailis, hold differing views.)
In the absence of the Mahdi, the rightful successor to the Prophet, the Shi'a community was led, as it is today, by living scholars usually known by the honourable title Ayatollah, who act as the representatives of the Hidden Imam on earth. Shi'a Muslims have always maintained that the Prophet's family are the rightful leaders of the Islamic world.
There are significant differences between scholars of Shi'a Islam on the role and power of these representatives. A minority believe the role of the representative is absolute, generally known as Wilayat Faqih. The majority of Shi'a scholars, however, believe their power is relative and confined to religious and spiritual matters.
Although the Shi'a have never ruled the majority of Muslims, they have had their moments of glory. The 9th century Fatimid Ismaili dynasty in Egypt and North Africa, when Cairo's prestigious Al-Azhar University was founded and the 16th century CE Safavid Dynasty which engulfed the former Persian Empire and made Shi'a Islam the official religion.
Significant numbers of Shi'as are now found in many countries including Iraq, Pakistan, Albania and Yemen. They make up 90% of the population of Iran which is the political face of Shi'a Islam today.