Texas Jews & Christians aid Muslims burned out of their mosque.

‘True American spirit’: Texas mosque arson sees $1m raised – Jews, Christians and Muslims pray side-by-side

Paul Wright

International Business Times

February 1, 2017

Texas mosque blaze

In the small Texas city of Victoria, the suspicious burning down of the community’s only mosque could have led its Muslim worshippers to fear they were no longer welcome.

But instead the congregation said they witnessed another side to humanity, one they branded the “true American spirit”.

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The fire at the Victoria Islamic Center early Saturday morning (29 January) has seen them overwhelmed with support from their local neighbours and fellow citizens across the United States.

The town’s displaced Muslim congregation now pray side-by-side with Jews and Christians after being welcomed in by the city’s church and synagogue leaders.

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Within days, tens of thousands of people from across the US and abroad had also raised an astonishing $1m (£790,000, €930,000) to help rebuild the mosque.

And the grieving 130 Muslims who saw their place of worship reduced to ashes have been inundated with all manner of offers from Victoria’s close-knit residents to help them get back on their feet.

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Leaders of the mosque declared “our faith in humanity has been rekindled again”.

“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received,” said Omar Rachid, a congregation member who set up the mosque’s GoFundMe page.

“The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American Spirit and Humanity at its best with donations coming in from all over the world.”

Muslim community leaders in the US have expressed fears of growing Islamaphobia in the country amid concerns about white nationalist rhetoric against the religion.

The fire broke out just hours after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order last Friday that banned travellers and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country for several months on national security grounds.

While the blaze has been categorised as “suspicious”, authorities have no evidence linking the fire to Trump’s order. An investigation by the Victoria Fire Marshal’s Office is still ongoing, with officials looking into whether a burglary at the mosque on 22 January could be significant.

In July 2013, the mosque was also vandalised when a juvenile painted “H8” – shorthand for “hate” – on its exterior.

Flames were first spotted at 2am on Saturday, with firefighters taking about four hours to put out the blaze. The building was completely gutted, with only the exterior walls left standing.

The mosque ruins, which will be demolished and a new one erected in its place, was built in 2000 largely with funds from the congregation. Its leaders say because of a miscommunication and a lack of funds, the mosque was never insured.

A City of Victoria spokesman said it could be months before the cause of the fire is determined.

About 400 community members attended a prayer rally Sunday morning outside the destroyed mosque, led by various local religious leaders.

Gary Branfman, a member of Victoria’s Temple B’nai Israel synagogue, said he hoped the tragedy would empower Victoria to come together.

“When our peaceful norm is interrupted like this, I think it unites the community,” he said.

Abe Ajrami, a mosque member, said: “God always has a plan. Out of tragedies, sometimes good things happen.”



FOOD for Thought

How can this much love

be inside of you?

~ Stevie Wonder


And we are put on Earth a little space,

That we may learn to bear the beams of love.

~ William Blake


I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


We are all here to help each other go through this, whatever it is.

~ Kurt Vonnegut


Compassion is the radicalism of our time.

~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama


I am constantly praying that we can enjoy a time of harmony and wholeness. My heartfelt aspiration is that we can all join together to work side-by-side to benefit the beings of this new century. I pray that this happen soon; the magnitude of the suffering of beings is too great, and the social and environmental challenges facing the world today are too heavy for us to bear separately, and can only be fully addressed if we are united.

~ His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje


What if who we are is every place we go, every experience we have, and every person we meet?

~ Collective Quarterly


Yo estoy en ninguna parte. Yo estoy en todas partes. Buenas noches y buena suerte.

I am nowhere. I am everywhere. Good night and good luck.

~ Megan Simons


Not being alienated from one’s own essential nature is itself a field of blessings.

~ Hui-Neng (638-713), 6th Patriarch of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, Platform Sutra


Belief isn’t always easy.

But this much I have learned —

if not enough else —

to live with my eyes open.

~ Mary Oliver


What did your face look like before your parents were born?

~ Hui Neng (638-713), Zen koan


The question is “What did your facebook look like before your parents were born?”

~ Zen koan, adapted for today


May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.

~ aspiration/dedication, online Buddhist site


By its nature, the cabin lifestyle is all about the joy of connecting with friends, family, nature—and even the best part of oneself. These are good, healthy, admirable priorities.

~ Cabin Life magazine


If you love Mother Nature, it’s time to tie the knot.

~ outdoors magazine


This work is dedicated to my family and to all who share the backcountry as their church. My family has encouraged me to be active in the outdoors from a young age. They have also supported my spirit in the adventure that is my life. This dedication also goes to those who share a love for the backcountry and find it to be a spiritual place. This place is the church of the great outdoors, where they go to feel at one with themselves, with others, with nature, and with that something greater, often termed the energy of the universe. The adventures in this place provide fulfillment and peace. May your adventures be fulfilling, your bonds strong, and your life well touched by the sense of euphoria and awe that you find there. Thank you for being on your journey. The role you play in the lives of others may be larger than you know.

~ Paul E. Marsh, Backcountry Adventure as Spiritual Experience: A Means-end Study (2007)


What the Divine has to share is written in the sky, mountains, trees and waters. We need only to become aware, then witness the beauty that is all around to learn what She is sharing.

~ Dana Demers


When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.

~ Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536)


To ask a novelist to talk about his [or her] writing is like asking somebody to cook about their dancing.

~ Jim Crace, American novelist


The Buddha’s meaning can be known through symbols and actions, not through words and books.

~ The Arrow-maker Dakini, addressing Mahasiddha Saraha


I have many journals in use at one time: one for notes during daily meetings at work, another for silly things my kids say that I don’t want to forget. And others. My “dream” journal is currently a dot grid format filled with sketches and other design inspirations.

~ Erin Condren


The Sutras, Tantras, and Shastras (philosophical scriptures) are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it’s hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don’t put it into practice, it’s like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar.

~ Karma Chagme (1613-1678), Tibetan mahasiddha


Though a man be learned
if he does not apply his knowledge
he resembles the blind man
who with a lamp in the hand cannot see the road.

~ Nagarjuna (c150–c250), The Tree of Wisdom


If the mind is cleared of limiting thoughts, and the senses are tuned in with nature, solutions to both philosophical and spiritual inquiries can be discovered in nature…. Connect with the Divine through nature on a personal level.
~ Dana Demers


I have seen in my wanderings great temples and shrines…

but none are as blissful as my own body.

~ Saraha (Indo-Tibetan mahasiddha, 8th century)


In the presence of extraordinary reality, consciousness takes the place of imagination.
~ Ansel Adams


Religion without art is a dead system of dogmas which have no effect on life.

~ Lama Anagarika Govinda


When we come to the consideration of sacred art, let us remember that all art is sacred art.

~ His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, “On Art” (1970)


All religions teach the virtues of love, altruism and patience, while showing us how to discipline and transform ourselves to achieve inner peace and a kind heart. Therefore, they are worthy of our respect.

~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama


All traditions, whether religious or secular, have developed to benefit human society. In the event that a tradition or system becomes harmful, there’s no need to insist on following it.

~ His Holiness the 17th Karmapa


If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.

~ Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859)


If your mouth proclaims, “I act for the benefit of all beings,” but you act like the ringleader in your own circus of self-important, ego-clinging tricks, then in reality you ignore the ineluctable law of cause and effect (karma) and ethical precepts and this is no good.

~ His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche


For many years, I was known as a monk. I shaved my head and wore robes, got up very early. I hated everyone, but I acted generously, and no one found me out. My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke. It caused me to laugh bitterly through the 10,000 nights I spent alone.

~ Leonard Cohen


You must have known that I was lonely
Because you came to my rescue
And I know that this must be heaven
How could so much love be inside of you?

~ Stevie Wonder (b1950), “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” (1973)


Each person must find his or her own path. Nonetheless, seek guidance from wise and compassionate people and listen to them earnestly. This will help you find the best way to proceed – now and in the future.

~ His Holiness the 17th Karmapa


Each person has to rise to the level of Self-liberation by himself or herself. No one can possibly raise the level of another person’s consciousness. Help by way of information and guidance can be offered by those who know the way, but the responsibility for raising the level of one’s consciousness lies with oneself. Each individual has to choose his or her own path and uplift oneself by one’s own endeavour. Others can at best reveal to one the wisdom of individual and cosmic life and inspire one to establish co-ordination between oneself and the universal state of Being.

~ His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi


Everybody has to commit to doing something every single day now. Every single day! You don’t have to quit your job. You don’t have to drop out of school. It’s just something very small you have to do. Every day, you have to contact your member of Congress or one of your two senators. Every day. It takes three minutes. Wake up, brush teeth, make coffee, contact Congress. That’s the new morning routine.

~ Michael Moore, January 2017


Only the impossible is worth doing.

~ Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche


Sometimes, when you no longer see yourself as the hero of your own drama, expecting victory after victory, and you understand deeply that this is not paradise, somehow we — especially the privileged ones that we are, — we somehow embrace the notion that this veil of tears, that it’s perfectible, that you’re going to get it all straight. I’ve found that things became a lot easier when I no longer expected to win.

~ Leonard Cohen


The deeper you get, the deeper you get.

~ Adventure Journal, January 2017


The closer you come to the goal of final emancipation, to Self-liberation, the faster you go.

~ His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi


Always go.

~ outdoor adventure magazine ad, January 2017


Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom. It is realized through unmediated direct experience, and stabilized through devoted application of practices which cultivate the effortless self-perpetuation of such direct experience. The desire for this fulfilling experience is inherent, success in its cultivation is due to dedicated application of practice, and inclination to devotedly continue in such practice is due to having generated fortunate karmic potential in the past. Through attaining such realizational experience, ignorant ideas of the nature of Reality as being limited to the realm of duality, due to the primordial mistake of the intellect, are clarified and abandoned.
~ Longchenpa (1308-1364)


When one practices Transcendental Meditation, one experiences energy and clarity of mind but not the actual process of the infusion of Being into the nature of the mind. The whole process is silent, on the level of pure Being. Whatever the experiences of the mind during meditation, they are only the different states of the medium of meditation. These states become finer and finer until eventually nothing remains of the medium, and the mind is left by itself in the state of pure consciousness. The infusion of the nature of Being into the nature of the mind originates in the transcendental field.

The living of Being cannot be described. Description cannot give a complete exposition of that state. It can only be lived. If someone is asked to describe the taste of what he has been eating, it is impossible for him to put the exact taste into words, even though he has been able to taste the food perfectly well. Similarly, Being is lived in life and is a state of experience, but It cannot be described.

Being can be lived through the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation. To begin with, Being is very delicately impressed on the nature of the mind. As the practice is continued, It becomes more and more deeply infused into the mind and eventually becomes so deep, significant and unshakeable that It is lived all the time, through all experiences of the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states. Then one is living eternal freedom on the level of relative experience.

~ His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living (1963)


Siddhi (attainment, success) in Yoga (stabilized Unity Consciousness) comes to that person who engages in the practice leading to direct experience of transcendental pure consciousness. How can one get success without practice? By merely reading books on Yoga, one can never experience transcendental awareness and attain the purity of permanent Unity Consciousness. Success, siddhi, cannot be attained by adopting a particular outer “yogic” dress or mental cover-up or “costume/guise” [vesa, compare vestment]. It cannot be gained by hearsay, by merely listening to descriptions or by telling tales, by imagination, or adopting an attitude or pretense to direct experience. Practice leading to stabilized direct experience alone is the means to success. This is true, there is no doubt.

~ Swāmī Svātmārāma (14th c.), The Lamplight of Unity Consciousness (Hatha Yoga Pradeepika)


Settle the mind, take time for meditation, dialogue, artistic expression, exercise and healthy eating.

~ Dana Demers


It’s not sufficient to practice meditation only from time to time, just when you feel like it. To enjoy steadily cumulative results rapidly leading to realization, you have to practice every day.

~ His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche


If you wish only for casual, hit-or-miss results, you may indulge in a casual, hit-or-miss program [of meditation and related practice], and wait to discover what quality of results may come from that. If you want steady, elegant, complete results, your daily program must be steady, elegant, and complete. Simple, innocent daily experience of effortless transcending of thought, resulting in samadhi — boundless inner pure awareness,— and leading a natural style of life without fussing or fretting, will result in gradual, steady unfoldment of your full innate potential.

Enlightenment, permanent stability in Unity Consciousness, cannot be achieved by attempting to remain in indrawn samadhi, transcendental consciousness, all the time. Enlightenment is not an attitude one maintains by will, or a mood one makes by trying to control the attention, or to remain removed from thought and emotion, or by avoiding activity! The goal is lived through infusion of the values of samadhi into the waking, dreaming, and sleep states, it is not a lifestyle of attempting to be submerged in indrawn samadhi at all times! Enlightenment is lived as dynamic, fully stable infusion, not static submersion.

When, over time, the nervous system has become purified, normalized, through regular daily practice of effortless transcending of thought, through entering into samadhi and then coming back out again into the realm of thinking and activity, it thenceforward spontaneously functions in an optimal manner that allows Unity Consciousness to be naturally lived under all circumstances and conditions without effort or contrivance.

Previously, occasional or episodic samadhi had been experienced only as a result of withdrawing from the surface of the mind and allowing the attention to settle deeply within, beyond the finest, must subtle level of thinking, and resting fully alert and at peace at the source of thought beyond the quietest level of mental activity.

Now, once the qualities and values of the source of thought, silent pure consciousness, boundless bliss-consciousness, are fully infused into the mind and nervous system, samadhi is experienced fully, spontaneously, at all times along with the phenomenal content of the waking, dreaming and sleep states.

Once this inner wakefulness is fully infused, it is simply always directly experienced as the conscious stable base and context of all other, changing experiences, effortlessly lived as one’s own unchanging self-nature, enjoyed spontaneously as an unbroken continuum of inner bliss consciousness throughout the ups and downs, the thick and thin of relative existence.

Thenceforward, nothing more needs to be done to always experience this continuum; one simply lives it, consciously, as the inherent nature of ones own being, without having to try to remember to be conscious of it. It is simply always spontaneously experienced and enjoyed as the unchanging consciousness with which one is conscious of one’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions in the relative field of existence. It is not a matter of controlling the mind, of putting one’s attention on anything, or attempting to hold the attention anywhere, or of making a mood, or of pretending, or straining, or making any effort whatsoever. One just lives it, spontaneously, effortlessly, naturally, as one’s own fully integrated, unified being.

Until then, the way to arrive at this goal is to meditate for a few minutes every morning and evening, effortlessly experiencing the full range of the thinking process from the gross level to the subtler, to the subtlest, and transcending the subtlest level of thought to rest in samadhi, inner silent awareness, and then to come out of meditation and go about one’s own active life, lived in one’s own terms, in a natural, uncontrived manner. Simple, elegant, enjoyable.

~ His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi


…Even if we were to meet in person, I would have no greater instruction to give you than this. So take it to heart, all the time, and in any situation.

~ Longchenpa (1308-1364)