Monday, November 21, 2005


“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 clichés 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


Nurelhuda said...

I do not see it as entrusting my soul to another .I also think that looking asking for approval and affirmation is what one does to start with and that this encouragement is really needed in the beginning but after some time, connection
with the Real is enough to sustain the momentum of life's journey. Having friends is good but not essential , having a guide is a comfort and is like having someone to run to just in case, like a safety net.

Anonymous said...

My a very very very cool Guide...for me it is about entrusting and trusting. Entrusting is the gifting of the soul's care to the Guide--that is the initial act. Trusting the Guide is the next step. Unconditional trust is very hard indeed, but very very important. No tests, no conditions, just trust. So finding the right Guide is crucial. I need a Cool Guide. I need a Guide who challenges and comforts. I need a Guide who knows when to reach out and give me a good shake, or when to stand back and let me flounder on my own for a time. A Cool Guide is hard to find...smiles. If you are as fortunate as me, and the Universe throws you a really Cool Guide..hang on tight. We are all on the same journey so it is nice to have someone who sees things a little more clearly and who is willing to share their wisdom and warmth. Thank you Musawwir...Sabura