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Asking the clergy about religion's mystical aspects

Many religions have a mystical component. A rabbi, an Islamic chaplain and a pastor each discuss this aspect of their faith.

Pastor Jim Steffens, The Refuge, a Charismatic Christian congregation, East Northport:

Although people commonly think of speaking in tongues (Acts: Ch. 2) when they think of Charismatic Christians, it is so much more.

We believe in divine healing, modern-day miracles and gifts of the spirit. The Holy Spirit that dwells within each of us is the most important part. It gives each of us the strength to do all the things that Christ has called on us to do. We are also called to be who he wants us to be: full of love, joy and peace; and being comforted by him and providing comfort to others.

We believe that it is not just "God with me, but God in me." It is that Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity -- of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that dwells within us that gives us strength to lead a Christian life and perform acts and miracles in his name.

The spiritual gifts various Charismatic believers may receive are often in the form of signs, miracles and wonders, including speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues,

prophecy, healing and discernment of (good and bad) spirits.

Rabbi Todd Chizner, Temple Judea of Manhasset:

Kabballah is mystical, not magical. Kabballah, also known as Jewish mysticism, means "received" or "that which has been received." When you think about it that way, the Kabbalist understands there is wisdom in everything, a deeper level of wisdom in everything.

Through a careful study of Kabbalistic text, there arises a deeper understanding of God's will and God's divine purpose for us in this world. Kabbalistic teachings cover everything from everyday activities to Scriptures to individual letters. Kabballah is not a separate form of Judaism. It is a segment of Judaism just like ethics and history are parts of Judaism.

What Kabballah teaches is that there is power in everything. Every word we speak, every word we think has power. How we act through words and deeds has cosmic impact. For example, you hold the door for someone, then that person holds the door for someone and so on and so on. We have to be careful how we craft our words and actions because they're like pebbles thrown in a pond that create ripples in the world, even to the ends of the universe. A certain magic occurs when you put something out into the universe.

The hidden meaning of things is in that which we have overlooked. Once you see Kabballah with those eyes, you begin to "receive" true wisdom. Thus, every thing, act, word or deed is laden with incredible potential.

Nayyar Imam, chaplain, Suffolk County Police Department, Yaphank:

Sufism is a separate sect of Islam, but not a separate religion. When most think of Sufism, the Whirling Dervishes come to mind. These are robed followers who spin in circles for hours as a form of meditation and an attempt to withdraw from this world and draw closer to Allah.

It started around the time of the death of Muhammad. At the grave of Muhammad, in Medina, Saudi Arabia, is a mosque and a raised platform where Sufis whirl and meditate.

The Sufi would position themselves upon the platform and twirl for hours without becoming dizzy as a form of meditation.

They also have a mystical way of praying. To them, there is no value to this world. Followers sit, eat and pray on this platform.

It is mistakenly thought that people go to them and ask them to pray for them, thinking they are closer to Allah. That is not correct. In Islam, you pray on your own. Each of us has a direct connection to Allah.

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