Thursday, January 04, 2007


About ten years before he died, I was driving my teacher, Pir Vilayat, to the airport when he said something startling to me. We were just chatting about something or other when he suddenly turned to me and said, "I am 75 years old and am just now understanding what a Sufi is." I did not quite know what to say to this startling statement so I mumbled something in agreement and drove on. But the statement stayed with me.

I have used the statement numerous times in classes to illustrate the fact that there is no ending to doing the inner work. The more I think about it though the more I would like to go a bit further.

My best friend, besides my wife, lives in Vienna Austria. She feels that what we do, living our lives, is always about the process, never about results. Since Western culture believes itself to be very result oriented, this is a somewhat unique point of view, one I share by the way. The other day we had a long car ride together and spent a good amount of the time talking about this very point. My friend has an analogy that I like very much. She says that life is one long dream, from one end to the other. She says that what we do within the dream determines what our essence will be when the dream ends and we move into the next phase of manifestation, whatever that turns out to be.

In Sufism, this essence, what Pir Vilayat called the quintessence, of our beings is called Qayoom, pronounced kai-youm. It is generally translated as Eternity but we use it to identify that essential kernel that lives beyond the death of a particular body. It is this energy that enhances the soul and which finally provides the one being with the information it needs to understand itself and its creation. It is not however a result. It is the accumulation of experience that we have while vying for results.

Just my saying this does not make it so of course. I could say that understanding this principle is a realization outside of the rational mental process but that would be putting me above all my readers and I do not like to do that. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that I am tossing this idea out there to see what happens to it.

I just wrote an email to a friend of mine wherein I stated that a person can do all of the practices assigned to them and become the most enlightened and spiritual person on the planet but if they do not have the ability to be a friend all the other stuff is wasted. So often we desire mystical experiences, something to give ourselves proof that we are doing something. We seem to need these results. Value received for effort expended. What is really happening though is that we are learning about ourselves and hopefully learning to be friends with ourselves. If, on the other hand, we believe that our efforts are making us lofty, or above it all – if we believe that our efforts have the result of making us somehow better or more informed or more spiritual than others – it is all a waste.

All too often, in the spiritual world, I have seen people, who have a wonderful realization and who suddenly find themselves with responsibilities, become parental. They act as if their word is better than all others and their students, assuming they get any, are treated like misbehaving children. Loving contempt is how it seems to me. What continues to surprise me is the number of people who buy into this. Mature adults with good careers and family responsibilities become little kids in front of these self appointed guardians of the mystical path. Everyone is looking for results.

What is really taking place is Divine Process. It is the struggle to understand. And we are all in it together.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


Jul-es said...

Im not sure if the thoughts you have provoked in me by this blogg are relevant to the blogg, but someone may help me sort them.
1. The idea of the Qayoom or essential kernel is one that i have often heard of, in thinking about ones bodt and self thought a question was posed.
Look at yourself, look at your little finger. This is your finger, it is undoubtably a part of you, but it is not you! So where in your body are you?
2. All we do is a lesson and if we fail to comprehend the lesson we fail to advance, and will continue to be given the same lesson in various ways until we have learned it.
3. Why is it that when some people see their friends advancing or growing in some part of their life they become not unsupporting but vague, and "standoffish". Are they affraid?
Love and Blessings Jules

Musawwir said...

The reason that people become vague or standoffish is because the person who is growing is confusing their world view. Most people want their friends and relatives to stay within a certain psychic box and not move, that way they can be certain of what will happen when another person is encountered. If you start changing then that certainty is no longer certain and that is scary.