Saturday, January 07, 2006


Majida and I have a small class in our home every Friday night. We do a little meditation, then we read something from the works of Hazrat Inayat Khan and discuss it a bit to see how people feel about what is said. Lastly we do some chanting. The discussions always seem to bring out interesting thoughts and feelings. I enjoy watching people process their inner world. I think it is important to learn to talk about the inner world. One effect is that you get to describe it to a sympathetic and supportive audience. We have one rule for these discussion sessions. The rule is no cross talk. No one is allowed to comment on what another person says except for Majida or myself. And we are very careful about what we say. The reason is obvious of course. These deep thoughts are so very secret in us that we bring them out reluctantly and we want our students to feel comfortable in revealing them, especially to themselves. It is quite wonderful to watch someone say something that surprises them. The looks of revelation on their faces are worth all the effort we go to. If we were to allow general comments then things would rapidly devolve into attack and defense, the normal mode of communication among humans. We established the rule just because of this.
People seem to want two things in normal everyday communication. One is to be right and the other is to fix the opinions of others. We know they would be ever so much better if only they would modify their thinking to be more in line with how we see their lives. Just think about how you listen to others and your impulses when they state something about themselves. I will bet anything that you instantly come up with several solutions for them. And this impulse extends beyond problems.
I have a very close relative whom I have yet to tell that I am about to be a published author. The reason I have not told him is that I know he will immediately want to tell me all the things I should do and how poor my contract is and on and on. He knows absolutely nothing about writing or publishing but there is not doubt in my mind about how the conversation will go. We all have someone, or several someone’s, in our family like this. If you are that someone then perhaps a bit of personality modification is in order. I have often thought that it is cowardice on my part to not tell him of my sudden success. On the other hand, why should I care.
There are many people, most people, to whom I do not reveal much of anything about my life. What would be the point? It is almost always best to keep your own council, as has been advised by many mystical sources, including Jesus I believe. On the other hand, the opportunity to examine your thoughts in a safe environment is priceless.
The normal mode of instruction in spiritual circles is for the teacher to talk, the students listen and accept. No discussion is allowed. For many years I thought this was the way I should be doing things and conducted my classes accordingly. Then some years ago, Majida and I - feeling a bit naughty – began to allow a bit of discussion, then a bit more. Gradually we have created this safe environment. The key I believe is listening. Usually, instead of commenting or criticizing, we try to ask just the right question that will hopefully help the person talking to see more of what they are trying to express. It is a tricky place but it can be done if you listen with the heart and not the critical mind.
Here is a little snippet from Pir O Murshid.
The general attitude of man is that of listening to all that comes from outside; and not only are the ears open to the external world, but even the heart is attached to the ears. The heart which is listening to the voices coming from the external world should turn its back on all that comes from there, and wait patiently until it becomes capable of hearing the voice from within.”

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

No comments: