Thursday, May 14, 2009


What is it? Why is it so elusive?

I went looking for an appropriate quote from someone for the theme of this blog but……. There are lots of quotes saying how nice tranquility is and how a person needs to find it in order to feel safe and secure and loved. Apparently though a person is supposed to just know what it feels like and to understand that he/she can do it when desired. That line in the US Constitution, "to assure domestic tranquility," was intended to make it lawful for the federal government to step in if two states went to war with each other, a distinct possibility in the beginning. In fact I think it was this line that was Lincoln's justification for pursuing the Civil War. But that little factoid does not help us in discovering just what tranquility is. All we know at this point is that it is an absence of war.

There is a totally separate meaning to tranquility which appears in spiritual literature and is referred to quite a bit. The word supposedly describes a state of complete peace within oneself, or so I understand it. It is akin to serenity but not to bliss. If I am correct, tranquility might be how you feel after you have an ecstatic experience of Unity. If you are reading along here maybe you can see the little problem with all of this. It all sounds so very nice but how do you do it? Serenity, bliss, ecstasy, tranquility; what do they really mean? How do I know if I am doing them? The answer almost always is, you know it when you feel it.

I have a confession to make; I have never taken any of the buzz words very seriously. I am always skeptical of someone who appears to be spiritual, or shows what we have come to expect is a spiritual mien. I have always been pretty sure that authenticity is self evident and there is no need to adopt a blissed out look on your face except to prove to other people how cool you are. On the other hand I have known people for whom there is no need to prove anything to anyone, they truly are angelic or very gentle and sweet. They just naturally walk around with this look of otherworldliness on their face and everyone knows they are unique. But, for most of us, it is an assumed role.

I once told Pir Vilayat that I was advising my students to just pretend to a state if they did not really feel it. He got very upset at me and told me that it must be authentic otherwise it becomes a habit to assume something that is not real. I was properly chastened and revised my teaching accordingly. That also taught me something about who Pir Vilayat really was and I began to wonder about the people who cozied up to him. Some were authentic I was pretty sure but most? Then I began to wonder just how much I was faking it. As I applied muhasaba, self examination, to my being it turned out that I was faking it quite a bit of the time. Not as much as some but a lot. And that was a shock.

What I have come to realize in the intervening years is that the true states of being that we discuss and that are talked about in the literature are natural. When we are in them in a very pure way we are just in them with no awareness of any kind of uniqueness. When it is over we are not sure just what the state was but we want to find a way to describe it; thus the words evolved. Perhaps the problems come when we find we need to alert others to our wonderfulness. I suspect this is also a very natural thing to do and it does not have to be overt either. We can be very subtle about it.

I started out trying to define tranquility. That didn't work out but maybe I defined something. I invite your comments about just what I did define if anything.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


Isa said...

I really idenitified with what you said about pretending, Musawwir. Early on in a twelfth step program I was told "if you don't know how to be in a situation, just act as if you do." I said "great, I can do that." And acting as if can really help in certain situations. I have found out over time, though, that it is not a good idea to make it your life's work....

molly said...

Hi Musawwir,
What I thought of when I read this is the difference between states and stations. Authentically tranquil states or an authentically tranquil station. My experience has been that I have been able to "fake it 'til I make it" to glimpse the state and then have to figure out to do it, or get there, naturally. My viewpoint is that the more permanent attribute of tranquility that you alude to, seems to be more of a station, a cultivation, or grace.

Maggie said...

You may not have defined tranquility, per se, but you have made me aware that true tranquility cannot be faked. It is a natural, pure state that sneaks up on one, or manifests, when you are not directly focused on it. It seems to me that tranquility, or serenity, will have the opportunity to manifest when one is focused on one's meditation or spiritual practice to the point that it flows easily from the heart and within the mind. And, as you say, it is discovered after the fact, after you have experienced it.

I don't think "faking it" until you make it would work in this least for me.

Love and blessings.....

gabrielle said...

Truth...being true to one's self..authenticity...within being authentic, i believe a certain sense of tranquility can be obtained

Anonymous said...

Tranquility for me comes from a total acceptance of self & an quiet understanding of life's realities.
Mere opinion but I feel Pir Vilayat spoke unwisely & missed a great opportunity. One can not be perturbed or agitated yet be tranquil.

"Tell me and I will listen, show me and I will understand, involve me and I will learn"