April 3, 2013

Sleeping with God: the passionate spirituality of Mirabai Starr.

I recently read a book that was like an energy drink for my soul. It’s by Mirabai Starr and it’s titled God is Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Starr comes from a diverse religious background and practices what’s known as interspirituality. In her words (which are highlighted throughout):

I have always been spiritually promiscuous, lying down with any God who will have me.

Interspirituality involves participating in many spiritual traditions at the same time and for Starr this includes Judaism, mystic Christianity, Sufism and Buddhism. She believes in “the oneness at the heart of all religious traditions” and finds meaning in all their teachings.

When I drop down into these ancient texts, I feel the breath of the God of Love on my face. It makes me crazy. In the very best way.

As you can tell, Mirabai Starr is not your average spiritual seeker. She pursues God with a passion and sensuality that is on the opposite end of the religious spectrum than say a conservative Christian. She is on a mission to find this “source of Love itself” and become one with it.

The soul spends all her life longing for union with the Divine. And when at least she reaches the object of her desire, she disappears into Him.

Starr is bold and daring and her love for God comes leaping off the page. Her enthusiasm is so great, it’s hard not to get caught up in it. She believes the face of God can be found in all people and in all situations.

My God is too vast to be contained by theology, too mysterious to be defined, too holy to be personified. My God neither punishes or rewards, but invites me into a living relationship that unfolds in the heart of all that is. My God belongs to everyone, and this belonging connects me to the web of all life.

Through the sheer force of her writing you begin to look at God in a new light, as the all-encompassing source of love:

And yet this God of mine is not mere emptiness. It is imbued with the energy of love. It is an overflowing of love into the entire container of the cosmos. I call it the Sacred, and there is nowhere it is not. I am in awe of this God of Love, who breaks through ordinary moments with a dazzling radiance and melts the boundaries of my individuated consciousness and reminds me that I am not separate from the source of Love Itself.

Starr believes in the active pursuit of the divine in everyday life. Like the mystic she has written about, Teresa of Avila, she believes that “what the beloved wants from us is action”. And she takes this advice to heart, describing what it’s like to live a life encompassed by the love of God.

Your heart is so drenched in love for the Beloved that it overflows into everything you do. You are incapable of making distinctions between the sacred and the profane; each act has become an act of prayer.

As she makes clear, the good news is that this divine love is not hard to find and can be accessed by all of us at all times:

We can feed the fire of divine love by cultivating simple practices that expand our hearts and raise our consciousness, such as meditation and chanting, reciting ancient prayers or conversing with the Beloved…each sunrise, each meal, every challenge and triumph in work and human relationships, are opportunities to praise God.

For a life so saturated by so many religious faiths, Starr’s main message is singular and rings through loud and clear. There is one God and no matter which faith you follow or path you take, we all wind up in the same place:

Each faith tradition is singing the same song in a deliciously different voice: God is love.

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