Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"By higher spiritualism we do not mean that which is occupied with occult, curious or magical phenomena. Such spiritualism keeps man away from progress. Higher spiritualism is that in which the soul is enkindled and illuminated."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

There are five chapters in my original manuscript which did not make it into The Sovereign Soul. The chapter on phenomena is one of them. Today I was rereading it and I could see why the editor did not want to use it. In the first place it is kind of confusing and in the second it flies in the face of conventional wisdom that we must have phenomena for validation of our spiritual understanding.

Human beings want evidence. We want to know that the effort we are expending is having an effect and we want to be able to point to something that proves it, to ourselves and to anyone else that we might want to impress. We want to know and we want others to know that we know. It is a natural desire. When a person has embarked on a spiritual path one of the very first things they look for is evidence. The interesting thing here is that the human mind is quite capable of producing it for us.

As a hypnotist, I am very aware of my capacity to create an illusion for a client in order to help them solve a problem. It does not really matter if the illusion has any basis in reality as long as the inner mind accepts it and creates the scenario that enables the client to alter some aspect of their life that is affecting them in a negative way. So I know that the mind can do amazing things to prove to us that we are doing something effective. In spirituality however, this kind of thing gets in the way.

There is a category of phenomena that is useful, as long as you do not give the means of manifestation too much credence. It is when subtle information comes to you from your deep inner being. By the time it percolates to the surface your mind will give it some form of reality that it can use to process the information. Discovering what the illusion represents can be a challenge but it is something that certainly can be done. Then, when the actuality is discovered, the illusion will become a kind of icon that you can refer to while, at the same time, knowing it is a representation and not the reality.

The deepest and most powerful of experiences have no icons, they simply are there as experiences and you know them to be such. All of the visualization exercises that we do leading up to these experiences are very helpful in training the brain to organize how it feels about things. We want the brain to be comfortable with extraordinary experiences, which is probably why we love to have phenomena. It helps us to work up the courage for the really vast understandings, which we have no way of grasping if we are totally committed to how the Earth sees things. So we get phenomena to help us transcend physical reality and experience the truth of creation but then we have to let the phenomena go in order to have this experience.

Obviously this is all very subtle. It may or may not happen in just the way I have described. However; it will be something similar. So, enjoy the phenomena as it appears but do keep in mind that one day you will discover a depth of understanding that stands on its own, no phenomena necessary.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


Anonymous said...

So just as we use landmarks such as language, mathematics and dimensions of time to understand and find our way around our real world and outer life, we use phenomena to get a grip on the spiritual world and our inner life ? I can see the fascination, the use and the danger in that.
What I find remarkable is your comparison to the techniques used in hypnotism which are similar to those we use in systemic therapy - what works is what has meaning for the individual. And who is to say that that's not real ? We live in our worlds of personal experiences, projections and representations ... with those rare and precious moments where two or more people will see the same bunny hunted by a dragon in a flock of clouds.
As for what you say that in the end you'll have to let that "crutch" go in order to experience the "real thing" ... I think that applies for all things, earthly or spiritual ... I never thought that sunset twenty years ago on that West Virginia mountain top better described than with silence. One would have to add so many words one on top of the other in order to get closer to the experience, and yet every added word would inevitably take you further away.
It's funny you should post this today, just this morning I was imagining a world without language, with just direct experience ... coincidence, phenomena ... ? ;-)

molly said...

I think this is an important aspect of sufism (and buddhism) that would be a good addition to the book. In one of the texts I have read, the word Suchness is used to describe phenomenon, and Essence is the goal, so that pursuing the phenomenon, or suchnes, would draw one away from the essence of what is. I like this concept. Thanks for posting.

molly said...

oops, I made a mistake. Suchness is the essence of essence, or ultimate reality (not another way of describing phenomenon).