Tuesday, April 28, 2009


"The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals." George Orwell

I asked a friend of mine what they would like me to write about in my next blog and they instantly responded LOYALTY. I then asked them what aspect of loyalty they were thinking of and they said, "the one demanding sacrifice of oneself."

Now, I am not totally sure what they meant by that last statement but it is still an interesting theme and one which we can certainly give some attention to.

There is a web site you can go to which has a list of famous quotes. I typed in loyalty and, among all the statements about loyalty to country and abuse of loyalty, etc. I found the quote above. This quote struck me as particularly sensible. Here is another way of saying essentially the same thing:

"Man proves to be genuine by his sincerity; to be noble by his charity of heart; to be wise by his tolerance; to be great by his endurance throughout the continually jarring influences of life." Hazrat Inayat Khan

So, this blog has been sitting in my computer for over a week now while I try to figure out what to say. Maybe I just did.

Yesterday I got an email from a young lady, the daughter of an old friend, asking me to initiate her into Sufism and to be her guide. It is always a deep honor when this happens and this morning, as I was driving my daughter to work, I was going over in my mind the words you say when you initiate someone, as it is not something that I do all that often. At the beginning of the little initiation ceremony you ask three questions. One, Is it your wish to be initiated into the Sufi Order International? Two, will you give your allegiance to the message of unity brought by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Three, will you view this initiation as a most sacred trust given to you by God? As you can see, of the three questions, two involve loyalty. Granted the third question is more about how you see yourself but loyalty is there. Notice that we do not ask that the one initiated give allegiance to anything other then an ideal. There is no demand that one be loyal to a flag for instance or a guru figure or anything like that; just an ideal, Unity. But then an interesting thing happens. Humans have a hard time giving loyalty to such an ephemeral ideal as Unity. We are much more comfortable with a more solid object. Country is about the broadest ideal that most people can feel comfortable with and even then loyalty to country will often be given more substances by coming to mean a particular political party's assumptions about what that should be. In spiritual groups it almost always means loyalty to the leader.

Another thing that occurs to me, that is not a requirement of the second question I mentioned, is sacrifice. Somehow loyalty has come to have this secondary notion attached to it that one may, probably will, be asked to sacrifice something. I think this is what my friend was asking when they mentioned the internal demand that one somehow sacrifice oneself. I think that just about every person that I guide has, at one time or another, asked me what they will have to give up to follow the spiritual path. The classic Zen answer to that question is, "Give up giving up!" which of course also ends up being a kind of sacrifice on their part. Humans can certainly be persistent.

What seems to happen is that we need to over simplify the ideal and to give it a kind of structure that may or may not have anything at all to do with the ideal itself. We surround it with rules and demands and buzz words to the point that it is no longer the ideal that matters; it is all the attachments we have hung off of it.

For just a moment then ask yourself what your true ideal is. Loyalty to the ideal is a given. Then ask yourself how many attachments go with it. Make a list if you have to. Consider all of the various ramifications of your ideal. Let's see what happens.

In rereading I see that I did not touch on Orwell's last statement and it is certainly something that needs mention. One of the aspects of loyalty to individuals that is always there is our tendency to make them more then they really are. For instance; the spiritual student will always idealize the teacher/guide and will give them a wholly unrealistic kind of super human reality. Then, when the student discovers the all too human sides of the teacher, extreme disappointment results. And this happens in all aspects of life. So, if you recognize from the beginning that the object of your adoration is human and is subject to the human condition then there is no need for disappointment. Wry amusement may be more appropriate.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

1 comment:

molly said...

The biggest sacrifice I have found with loyalty to an ideal (my perceived ideal) is myself, or the person I thought I was. If my ideal is to become who I can be, I must, at times, leave my old self behind. Along with my old self, sometimes that means leaving/losing friends. A lot of times, that feels like a sacrifice.

The other instance I can see with loyalty and sacrifice is if there is more than one loyalty and then there arises an instance where a choice must be made between the two, and one feels torn between loyalties.