Saturday, October 23, 2010


”The course of human life involves so many disappointments, so many failures, so many heartaches, that no one can avoid doubting.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan

I want to talk about something that keeps coming up but is kind of difficult to describe. I will do my best however; because I think it is very important. What I have noticed over the years is that when a person is first initiated into the Sufi Order there is an initial period of excitement which is almost always followed by a crash. Perhaps this is only my experience but I have to wonder if others have not noticed it as well. What seems to happen is that a person will be initiated and be very enthusiastic for a week or a month and then they crash, they step back, they often disappear. This is not always true, not every time, but it is often true. I have long puzzled over this as I have also noticed this tendency to withdraw in myself.
I suppose at the beginning it all seems very romantic and exciting. You have just done something very unusual in our culture. You have decided to follow a path that you have no real understanding about, but there is something that draws you and you want more. It may be the magnetism of the guide, or maybe the exotic nature of the discipline, or some other reason. So you decide to do it, get initiated. That’s when the doubts start to creep in. I guess it is possible that there are some very rare individuals who never have a single doubt, but I have never met any. The question then remains, what to do about it?
Perhaps at the beginning, when the doubts start to creep in, a person has no real choice. The habitual personality will exercise its right to stay with its habits. This is probably why Pir Vilayat was constantly urging his murids to push on through. Never the less, we are stuck with who we think we are and, since we have just done something very out of the ordinary, our personality will naturally rebel.
Personalities, which are really our sub-conscious responses to the world, are pretty fixed in their attitudes. We learn early in life how to protect ourselves from the vagaries of the world. These protections and responses do not have to be sensible, not at all, but they do have to be reasonable to us. This is basic information that everyone who works with the mind knows. So we are somewhat fixed in our ideas of ourselves. Then we decide, for whatever reason, to challenge our inner mind, our sub-conscious, by taking initiation with some spiritual group or teacher. Almost the first thing to happen is our sub-conscious goes, “Wait a minute, this is not part of our world!” Then we have various choices. One choice that I see exercised a lot is to disbelieve what just happened and turn away from the teacher or group, telling yourself that they are stupid or unjust or something. At the other end of this spectrum is to go into some kind of funk for a little while, then to shake yourself and get to work on the psyche using the practices given. And then there are all of the varieties of experience in between these two extremes that are possible.
I guess it is normal enough in this world of disappointment to have doubts about something new that is out of the ordinary. We hear so much about people who are duped into some absurd cult that we worry and the worry brings doubts. I wish that I had an answer, but I don’t. About all that I can say here is that the only true way to find out if you have been duped or not is to follow through and watch the teacher or guide. Do they live a life of service? Or do they use people with no thought of return? It is up to you to judge. I would be very grateful for any comments that anyone might have as this is a great puzzle to me.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


Anonymous said...

"It's a mitzvah to doubt." (Mitzvah, in Hebrew, is a blessing.) a Jewish wisdom phrase, rings true. Doubt confronts habituated perception. It is also a means by which the unconscious assumptions of our mind/heart are revealed to our witnessing self, letting limited constructs of an ideal fall into the unknown. Doubt is a teacher. It is an opportunity to see newly an aspect of the (probably unconscious) ideal I have projected upon another, and what resonance it has in my own being. This corresponds to the state of being the Sufis call the Nafs al Lawwama. Movement from the reactive to the self examining self is a sign of progress. Not to stop there! It is the condition of the lens of the mind that affects our seeing, and of the lens of the heart that colors our feeling. I think the story of the king who trained to be a mureed symbolizes well the way the self receives, perceives and responds in different states of being. Sincerity is the thread that links these states of being.

Thanks for your thoughts.

With love,

Anonymous said...

Doubting leads to discover and to find answers to the many uncertainties one kept in his mind and heart.This act leads one to seek more proofs to support that one's decision is right. Literally,It is like checking/reviewing one's answers in a periodic examination before submitting it to the teacher.

We need to check and double check ourselves to find out if we are certain of the path we have followed.

If we have chosen the right path,
we have to nurture ourselves and grow in that path.



Maggie said...

Well done....I have been anxiously awaiting your next blog entry!

I have always found doubt and questioning to be part of the growth process. Maybe it is just my age, but I expect anything worthwhile to take alot of effort....and discomfort, and yes, sometimes tears, on my part, as I push through. I continue forward, even if only at a snail's pace (or so it seems)!

Much love, many blessings.....


Anonymous said...

Dear Musawwir,

doubt is the gateway to discovery. We need to constantly evaluate our inner truth. My truth may be different from what somebody else thinks to be true.

For example one day I began to doubt the dogma of judgmentday, heaven and hell. Today I believe that this "trinity" is not needed while another person may consider my belief as sacrilege.

If an initand disappears he or she might have discovered that the path is thorny.


molly said...

Nice article. I wonder too, if after crashing, people look for the next new thing. Or just get re-absorbed into worldly stuff again. It sounds to me like doubt overshadows commitment in this scenario.

Ms Melanian said...

Dear Musawwir,

Since I've chosen the path, I can honestly say I have never doubted any aspect of it. it is the most solid foundation I have for my purpose in life.

Doubts for me is my fear of moving forward in my journey of unfoldment; moreso in leaving the known for the unknown or the comfortable for the not so comfortable.

most often, in my "self-directed" journey my doubts have been whether I am sane, and in asking this question, I am always led to the answer that I am not crazy, that this is real and I am on the right path.
In my need for even more confirmation because of my previous isolations I was guided to the community of like people..thus elminating all past doubts of my sanity.
What this has done for me, after the initial excitment, is confirm my commitment and since crossing the threshold I was guided to; the doubts that arise is only whether I am worthy of all the miracles that follow miracles.

Congratulations on your new Book!

Sarala said...

Occasionally when my dear guide has pricked my precious bubble of self-hood, I throw a private little hissy fit of doubt, or, more like rebellion: "This is not part of my world!" I've learned to follow along, allow it to play it out, until finally I am holding my sides with laughter at myself. Then it's "Lesson noted, you silly goose." (now you know, M!)

There's also a similar phenomena, which some of my fellow Energy Kinesiologists call "the tsunami of newness." That's when someone experiences a new idea, technique, or practitioner for the first time and is totally blown away in response. Hopefully, they'll realize that every time won't be like the first time. Sometimes, they give it all up in disappointment.

And then there's that 'booster shot' effect - when I come home from a professional conference, or having taken a class, I ride a wave of enthusiasm for my work for days or weeks. I try to modulate this response, and, to be fully aware as I'm in it so that I can recall it and re-immerse in the enthusiasm of new learning and/or working at will.

All relative to retreats, and, even to those 'in-between' sessions....