Does Divine Energy behind Letters & Words Unify Different Faiths?


It can be no accident that the Word holds such significance in many world religions and practices.

“In the beginning was the Word” proclaims John 1:1 in the New Testament. In Hinduism, Brahma the creator, first appears as a sacred vowel sound, aum, and in Sanskrit, the sacred power behind every sound and letter is called Matrika Shakti. Also in kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, letters hold special power: there is divine mystery behind the drawing, placement, and viewing of each line.

The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, pointed out that the first sermon in Islam begins with the word, “Recite!” She goes on to say, “The Koran swears by the pen and what it writes. Such a sermon and message cannot be in conflict with awareness, knowledge, wisdom, freedom of opinion and expression and cultural pluralism.”

TIFERET: A Journal of Spiritual Literature hopes to unite people and faiths… and to be a conduit for revealing spirit, in all its manifestations, through the written word.

The Hebrew word tiferet can be translated as Beauty, Harmony, Compassion, Balance, or Integration. It can integrate or harmonize conflicting forces, for instance, the energies of giving and the energies of receiving. Or even the conflicting forces of different man-made religious institutions.

It is, in my understanding, the state from which true creativity can arise.

I think of this word as being a nonlocatable “place” similar to the razor’s edge envisioned by Somerset Maugham–a balancing of heaven and earth, good and evil, material and immaterial, opposing forces our minds don’t easily reconcile.

On the kabbalistic Tree of Life, tiferet is a stable center where the physical and spiritual realms meet. When I first learned this word, I knew it described the way I wanted to be in the world.

My decision to publish the magazine followed my discovery of the word.

I was a writer; I had studied Integrated Kabbalistic Healing; and I wanted to explore the ways divinity enters into or becomes known in our lives through words and enters into or becomes recognized in our bodies through spiritual beliefs and practices.

I hope our magazine, website and online issues can accompany you on your own spiritual journey and understanding of the sacred.

You are most welcome to post your beliefs, your doubts, your places of confusion or ambivalence. Share what is most precious to you from your own faith. Learn about others’ beliefs and rituals. Open your mind and heart to the colorful, changing world words hold out for us.

Again, from John 1:1–“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” How do words, in any language, from any faith, help us understand mystery, the “other,” and life?

Donna Baier Stein

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