Sunday, September 30, 2007


One day two small boys decided to play a trick on Mullah Nasruddin. With a tiny bird cupped in their hands they would ask him whether it was alive or dead. If he said it was alive they would crush it to show him he was wrong. If he said it was dead they would let it fly away and still fool him.

When they found the wise old man they said, Mullah Nasruddin, that which we are holding, is it alive or dead?

Mullah Nasruddin thought for a moment and replied, Ah, my young friends, that is in your hands!

Mullah Nasruddin, why do you always answer a question with another question?

Do I?

Occasionally, I noodle around on the internet just for the fun of it. Today I looked up Mullah Nasruddin and found the story above. Reading it I thought of one of my friends, one of the people I guide, who is constantly accusing me of never actually answering a question. She says that I always reply to a question of hers with another question. She has been saying this to me for years and I kind of laugh it off, but of course she is right.

The whole purpose of spiritual guidance is to aid the guidee in their self discovery. This usually involves getting them to question their assumptions. It would be very easy to just give my own version of reality and expect the student to accept. A lot of spiritual teachers are like this. And frankly most people love to simply be told.

I have observed otherwise very intelligent people regurgitating doctrine as if they truly understood what it meant. They spout the very thing they just heard from this teacher or that teacher stating it as if it were their own. This is spiritual laziness.

The real seeker is never satisfied with someone's proclamation. They have to know for themselves through their own experience and discovery. I much prefer to guide someone who demands that I explain myself and show them how to do it for themselves rather than someone who sits at my feet, rapt in adoration. *SHUDDER* I suppose that sort of attention would appeal to some but I find it pretty annoying. Not that it happens to me often – or at all for that matter.

Our Western, mostly secular, culture has some very strange ideas about spiritual guidance. There is a definite tendency to accept what we are told, regardless of whether or not it actually makes sense or has anything at all to do with our personal experience. Yes, there is the myth of independence within US culture but that is exactly what it is, a myth. If it were not so, McDonalds would not exist. It is probably a holdover from feudal times when the great mass of peasants had no education at all and believed what they were told by those with power over them. A case could probably be made that this is a world wide phenomena and that the very recent rise of world literacy is only the very beginning stage of actual independence of thought. But Eastern cultures also have a tradition of true spiritual independence, unlike Christianity and its mirror Islam, which insist on obedience to doctrine. Oh oh, I just said something critical there didn't I? Perhaps I will deal with that in another blog. In any case, we expect to obey even though we also have a deeper tendency to spiritual and intellectual freedom.

This tendency to obedience is prevalent throughout all the esoteric/spiritual groups that I am aware of, including the Sufi Order. I cannot tell you how often I have heard the phrase, "Pir Vilayat said………. whatever" and now it is "Pir Zia said………. whatever," used as a conclusive argument. I guess I needn't state how annoying I find this tendency.

One of the bits of training that a spiritual student is inevitably subject to is status or levels of awareness. While it is true that a person who meditates regularly will find aspects of creation that are hidden from most, this is not universally true. And it is certainly not true that such a person is any better at living than someone who has not discovered these aspects. Or as Pir Vilayat consistently said about finding one's guide, "You see yourself in another yourself who is better able to manifest that which you already are." In other words it is no different from putting yourself under the tutelage of an experienced mechanic if you want to learn to work on automobile engines. He knows more than you just because he has studied and has been doing it for years. It does not mean he is any better intrinsically, just more knowledgeable. What is really happening is you yourself are training your self. Guidance is really about helping you avoid some of the pitfalls that you may slip into.

As the Mullah said, it is in your hands.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


ardvisura anahita said...

I agree with you and i have noticed that you always answer my question with a question. i do the same thing sometines.

Sarala said...

Thankyou for being who you are, as you are.

And laughter is a good thing. People think angels fly because they have wings.... maybe angels fly because they take themselves lightly :-)

Sarala said...

Thankyou for being who you are, as you are.

And laughter is a good thing. People think angels fly because they have wings.... maybe angels fly because they take themselves lightly :-)

Andrea said...

Sarala, that a good one! Thank you for posting. :-)


Anonymous said...

in fact dear friend you often quote what Pir Vilayat said....and we are thankful for that, Don't get annoyed if we quote others, it is probably because you have taught us to have faith in our guides.

Musawwir said...

That's true, I do quote Pir Vilayat quite often. What I do not do however is use the quotes to win an argument. Perhaps I should have been more specific

wildcherrii said...

nice blog. so, so true. wow,my son write's and sound like my you. he is young, but pretty wise for his age. which is 19. who, also wants to write a book. he is getting ready to go into college to become a sprital teacher. peace. WC