Friday, November 25, 2005

INSPIRATION

"My heart has become an ocean, Beloved, since Thou hast poured Thy love into it."
Hazrat Inayat Khan



Long before I knew what a Sufi was I had a copy of Pir Vilayat’s first book, or I guess it was his first book, “Toward The One.” It had a lot of good information in it but it was almost impossible to read because of the type font and the lay out. But, inside was a poster, which I still have somewhere. I had this poster hanging in the wall of my bedroom and I used to sit on my bed and read it over and over. The above quote was the main sentence, larger than all the others, more prominent on the poster. I used to puzzle over this saying, not being sure who the Beloved was. I figured it had to be some kind of reference to God but it certainly was not the God I was taught about, a remote amorphous being who occasionally, and apparently quite randomly, deigned to notice and even less often, interfere in human affairs. I was taught that if one prayed often enough and sincerely enough that I might, just might, get noticed and replied to. How this reply would come was not very well explained but I would have to keep an eye out. It was all very elusive while appearing to be definitive. At least that is my memory of that training.
As has happened to many others, there came a point when I simply stopped paying attention to this training, rejected it, but did not have anything to replace it with. So, as with so many others my age, I became a hippie. That is another story but the point is that the search went on. Even as a pot smoking hippie I knew it too was false. The whole flower child ideal was a kind of illusion, created to respond to an inner pressure to understand the Universe in some way other than the way it had been explained by theologians determined to be in control. So, in the search for something to replace this obviously flawed system I read everything I could find. And that book, “Toward The One” appeared.
So, I would sit on my bed and read the poster over and over. Mostly I would roll the above quote around in my mind, trying to understand what it really meant. Of course the mind is not the proper place for such statements, they belong in the heart but I didn’t know that at the time.
What I firmly believe is that this book, with it’s poster, came to me as a clue or maybe as a kind of starting place. The journey from getting the book to finding my teacher was a long and confusing one but worth every bit of effort expended in both directions. It is as if one is unwittingly drawn to one’s true path through all sorts of little clues that one may or may not understand at the time, probably not. Maybe it doesn’t matter. What is probably more important is for each of us to recognize our own need to be recognized as precious. Little clues come to you that you will not recognize or that you will insist are something else. Perfectly normal. But, when something resonates deep in your being, seemingly more powerfully, as well as more subtly, than other things seem to, then you can allow this resonance to expand and become the road that leads you to who you really are.

Love & Blessing, Musawwir

Monday, November 21, 2005

I KNOW I'M COOL - AREN'T I?



“A cup which is already filled, or even partially filled, does not give free accommodation for that knowledge which the teacher wishes to pour into the heart of his pupil.” Hazrat Inayat Khan


Once you decide to start the inner work of self realization and have chosen a path, perhaps taken initiation with someone and have that person as your spiritual teacher/guide, then the real work begins. Every mystical school has some form of personal guidance, some kind of one-on-one interaction that, to the beginner, can be somewhat intimidating. For some it is very formal and remote seeming for others, mine included, it is based on friendship and friendly interaction.
It is very common for a student to seek to discover how his/her teacher thinks about them. I have always thought of this as one of the more frustrating aspects of being a student of a spiritual teacher, never really being sure where you stand. I think most people who are following some kind of spiritual path have heard any number of clich├ęs about why this is. The empty cup metaphor, as recited above, is common to all spiritual paths and there are others. One should never ask the teacher about themselves because one may not want to know the answer. Sometimes the answer is not going to make sense. One should always be in the position of the student, paying attention, listening, allowing the empty cup to be filled, even struggling to figure out just what it means to be an empty cup. All of this, plus much more, are the sorts of things that a spiritual student will hear about the manner in which they should think of being a spiritual student.
I guess we all want to know where we stand. We all want to know that our self assessment is the correct one. Or, to know that what we have always suspected is true about ourselves is not true. It is a bit scary to think that there is someone in the world who can look at us and tell us these things. It would be much better to keep our secrets. Never the less, having chosen someone as a spiritual guide we have to work at trusting that they have our best interests at heart.
It just occurred to me that there are probably lots of people reading this who have never experienced what it is like to entrust their soul to another. In fact Westerners tend to see this sort of thing as intrusive. Often I will hear someone say that they are quite capable of doing their own study without benefit of a guide. True enough I suppose however, as a Sufi master once said, “One may attain the purpose of life without a personal guide, but to try to do so is to be like a ship traversing the ocean without a compass.” You might be able to do it but why try? We have in our society the myth of the rugged individual, able to meet all challenges without any help from anyone. Our literature and culture is full of stories like this. Unfortunately the myth, in this case, is not real. “No man is an island,” is a much more accurate statement. So, once a person reaches a point in their experience of living where they realize there is something within, which they suspect, but are not sure of, a guide becomes necessary.
Give some thought to the above and then post your thoughts if you so choose.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir