Wednesday, September 22, 2010

LABELS

"There is a mystical outlook, there is a mystical significance, there is a mystical point of view which is different from that which we call a practical point of view. Things of great significance are beyond what we call our practical point of view."
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan


I rode a city bus the other day and deliberately sat in a seat reserved for seniors. It is still a bit odd to think of myself in this way. Most of the time I do not remember that I am 65 but then I see a sign, Admission $8, seniors $6 and I remember.

I think that most people who follow some kind of spiritual path have an automatic aversion to being labeled. Of course we all have them in all sorts of ways but we pretty much don’t like them or at least I don’t. Some labels you must simply accept, male or female, tall or short, etc. Other labels seem presumptuous as if you can only fit in this one box or possibly a limited number of boxes. Politicians do this all the time of course since they are sure that people have only a limited scope of understanding.

On the other hand, spiritual type people enjoy certain types of labels. We like to be seen as calm. Also we are prone to believe that we look younger then our peers who do not meditate, this probably only matters to those over 40. And I suppose most of us like to think of our primary label, I am a Sufi, I am a Buddhist, I follow Jewish mysticism, or whatever that primary label might be, Wicca maybe or a follower of The Course in Miracles or something similar. There are lots of labels like this that we certainly approve of.

I am seriously beginning to believe that all of these labels really only have one reality and that is separation.

I received an email the other day on my hypnosis site. It was from someone who is interested in hypnosis but he has a very strange take on it. He is convinced that most people who need hypnosis have an evil entity hanging around them and the hypnotist’s job is to exorcise this demon. I had to ponder this for a couple of days so I did not reply to him in a rude fashion. But wow, how limiting is that? While it is true that entities who attach themselves to people occasionally do exist, it is much rarer then some would like to think. And, despite what Hollywood would love us to accept, all they really want to do is to talk. What this kind of attitude does is severely limits the scope of the help a therapist can offer. And it shows very little understanding of the truth of our existence. In fact such an attitude assumes a type of reality that I find depressing. What this person really wants is to be a hero, another label. He wants to be able to say that he has the answer to all of life’s problems.

There are many people out there with similar claims. What they want is to be seen as heroes and to be able to claim heroism. This is understandable. We all want to be acknowledged in some positive manner by those around us. I admit to feeling a thrill of pride when I know I have helped someone. I have come to accept this as part of my make up. I also recognize that this is going to be true of anyone who is in the healing profession. We do it because we are led to be healers but we also have pride in what we do. And there is nothing wrong with this. What is wrong, I believe, is when we take a label and demand that this label be everything that we are and that all those around us must accept our version of the label.


I suppose labels are necessary so people know how to approach you and I guess that is helpful in a certain way. But it is also important that, once the approach has been made, that the communication be allowed to go beyond any pre-assumption that may have been in place initially. In other words let the person before you be all that they are, not just whatever you may think their labels imply.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see labels as a kind of convinience agreement to make life as an organized society manageable. Though labels become a threat if we take them as a virtue on their own and for their own sake. If it comes to judgement we need to reevaluate our thinking.

Andrea

Anonymous said...

Musawwir,

You have articulated something about myself that I didn't know was common to others, especially those on a spiritual path. I have long disliked being labelled anything and it has been a challenge for me to actually adopt a career path (outside of teaching yoga and meditation for many years) for the same reason. Having had much training in communication and in observing human behavior, I am well aware of the "listening" that we and others have of categories and labels which keeps us separate from one another. I feel that I am/have been in a phase of my life/unfoldment which compels me to look beyond the labels of "liberal, conservative, fundamentalist, Sufi, Christian, atheist, etc." and to live from that seeing beyond -- not always easy, given my tender heart.

Thanks dear friend for being there, being here, being so present and available.

Much Love,
Jan Noorallah

Anonymous said...

Labels are really only useful for examining a small subset of the conditions and attributes surrounding a specific situation or person

One danger with them is that we can make the assumption that everything with a given label is identical.

This is especially problematic with human beings. We are all capable of having contradictory attitudes and performing inconsistent actions. Someone who is "calm" generally may be angry in other situations.

Another problem is that people often have different definitions of abstract concepts like labels.
You can blithely state that fire trucks are "red", but this may be meaningless to a color blind man.

Furthermore, labels bring up different associations. I might think of a toy truck when something "red" is discussed. You however may be reminded of a delicious apple.

With regards to spiritual concepts there are further difficulties. Many people are not in touch with their spiritual side, and they don't have referents to for words that describe mystical experiences. Furthermore such labels are colored by the religious teachings a given person has encountered.

Finally, labels are a product of the intellectual portion of the mind, and as such do not work so well in the areas beyond simple logic.

I'd imagine all this must make the life of a teacher rather complex.

Jelaluddin E

Musawwir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Musawwir said...

Hi Jelaluddin,
My mind immediately jumped and thought, "Yes, but there are also yellow and green fire trucks!"
Thanks for your feed back.
Musawwir

Leah said...

Green and yellow fire trucks? haha.. (too funny, Phil.)
You're quite the lucky chap to have so many bright and wonderful people to comment here, don't you agree? lol