Thursday, December 29, 2005

Storms in Our Tea Cups

It has been suggested, by my wife and step-daughter, that I should address the issue of storms in tea cups that I mentioned in the previous blog.  My wife looked me right in the eye and asked what storms I have in my tea cup.  I of course replied that, since I am perfect, there were none at all.  This statement earned it’s deserved grunt of incredulity.  She ignored my braggadocio and pointed out that, even though we might see these storms as illusion, to the person experiencing them they can be quite significant.  And my step daughter wanted to know what to do about these little storms since they seem so insidious.  All good points.  So, what can we do?
Let’s first have a look at what Pir Vilayat meant by referring to storms in tea cups.  He usually made this reference when he was talking about gossip or how we over dramatize our personal problems.  I suppose he wanted his students to have a look at how we experience our conditions and how we react to the various things that we think are happening to us.  When a spiritual teacher is saying things like this to his or her students, a couple of things happen.  Some of the students will  listen attentively but essentially ignore what is not within their experience.  They realize that they can use the words of the teacher as bench marks to help them recognize their own processes.  They also know that what he says only matters in the abstract and personal experience is the real teacher.  Others will nod knowingly and attempt to be the ideal that the teacher is describing with varying degrees of success.   Both of these responses are just fine.  But guess what happens when these two groups compare notes?   Bubbling tea cups!  
You see the first group is skeptical, even of the teacher, and refuses to accept anything that is not a part of its personal experience.  They will question and challenge and demand and, in the end, teach the teacher, which is exactly as it should be.  The second group is on the path of devotion and does not understand the first group anymore than they are understood.  I have often thought that their very devotion supports the teacher in a way.  Both think they are right and, it is true, both are right.  Which brings us to the storms themselves.  
Everyone has problems to one degree or another.  Some problems are immense.  Having your home bombed and all of your family killed while sustaining serious injuries yourself and then becoming a war refugee.  This is a big problem which many people in the world currently face.  But that is not what is being referred to.  These storms in a tea cup are referring to our interactions.  Say someone violates you in some way, either real or imagined, how do you react?   Do you demand revenge?  Do you simmer in silence until an explosion is inevitable?  Do you meekly accept, resenting all the while?  These are the issues that we need to really deal with.  The human condition will give us plenty of events that we have no control over such as war or earthquake or harsh storms.  In those cases we do what we need to do to survive and to help others survive.  The things we do have some control over are our reactions.
In my own case I am capable of all three of the examples plus a few others.  What I do is try to continually monitor my own responses.  Often this is just noticing while I am reacting poorly but that’s okay.  This is the first step, noticing.  
What seems to happen as one pursues the spiritual life is a kind of constant reassessment.  Once a person begins to get the hang of meditation or deep prayer, they will also begin to notice their flaws and their reactions.  This, though uncomfortable, is a good thing.  What we do not see we cannot correct.   On the other hand, in my personal experience, I have noticed that the flaws tend to remain.  I still am quite capable of being unreasonably angry, or petty, or jealous, or resentful.  So, perhaps the real key is acceptance.  To accept the human condition, in fact to revel in it -  with all of its warts – may be the real answer to what to do about our tea cup storms.  This is the texture of our lives.   I shudder to think of a sterile universe where everything is perfect and no one ever contends or questions.  
Does this make sense to you?   What do you do?

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, December 26, 2005

Cause & Effect

I am constantly advising my students that they have to look outside of cause and effect for how to think of circumstances that test them. What I am trying to do is to get them to see beyond the “storms in a tea cup” as Pir Vilayat would put it and grasp the vaster laws of the Universe. Never the less I got curious because of some of the comments to my last post and decided to put ‘cause and effect’ into the search engine in this program I have that has all of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s work. And I found the following:
“There are two principal chains of cause and effect. The first plan is the cause and effect of the series of personalities. This is the law of the Vedanta school and it is illustrated by Christ’s words: ‘It is another who sows, and another who reaps.’ Secondly there is the cause and effect for the soul, illustrated by Christ’s words: ‘Thou wilt reap as thou hast sown.’ This leads the soul through heaven and hell to God.
The first is horizontal kârmâ, the second vertical karmâ. But then there is a third form of karmâ, a third chain of cause and effect. It is the Consciousness which stands as a gulf between the first two; it shows them distinctly as two different forms of karmâ, and still it unites them. They are in union. One could call this inner karmâ. It is imperceivable, incomprehensible: it belongs to God.
As to this third aspect, everyone is linked up with everyone else, and everyone can say he is a reincarnation of everyone from the past, as the universal Mind, from where the personality came, is One.
The secret of the soul is that it does not exist. Only God exists. God is God, God is the soul, and God is the chain of personalities.”

So perhaps this explains a bit more clearly what I have meant. If it is possible for us to experience, even for the briefest moment, this reality that the soul does not really exist, that it is an aspect of the Only Being and exists as a Divine expression of a unique combination of attributes, interwoven with all other unique expressions, then we are able to discover a depth of reason that is far beyond the “storm in a tea cup.” I know that this idea is simply an idea for most, that it is an intellectual exercise and not an experiential reality. Never the less, it may help if a person tries to see others as well as themselves in this light. And, it gives us something to shoot for, it gives us an ideal to pursue, a potential to discover in our beings. We cannot know what it feels like to experience the state of unity that the mystics speak of until the moment comes when we ourselves have the experience. We can, however; allow the learned experience of these mystics to guide us and to possibly comfort us when we feel that we are all alone.
Death comes to us all. For some it comes sooner then we feel it should but, if we can step outside of individuation for even a moment, we can perhaps see that it all runs together eventually. This experience of living is an immense opportunity for the being of God to discover permutations to its existence that simply were not possible while it was in the eternal sleep of Unity. And, as Ibn al Arabi has pointed out, as soon as God decided to create mankind, God was obligated to allow mankind freedom of expression, otherwise no actual development would be possible.

I have this science fiction trilogy written by Michael Gear, one of my more favorite authors. In it are a cast of characters derived from the native peoples of the American South West who have given God a personality which they call Spider. Throughout the books they are constantly asking the question, when you die what story will you take back to Spider? So I ask you, what story are you creating to take back to God?

Love and Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It has been almost a month since I have written for this blog. I apologize to those who have been reading here. I have been very involved in getting the book out and, now that it is about to happen, I have been anxious and not really in a space to write. For the past week though, I have been thinking that it is time to get back to work so here is my next effort.

I have been thinking much lately on the fragility of life. A young friend of mine just went through the unexpected death of her mother, a woman I greatly admired. I am not going to give any details as that would not be tasteful but I did want to reflect upon the whole process.

I have read from several quite different sources that, since we are all actually one being, we constantly feel the births and deaths of other beings. Fortunately we have within our beings what I think of as filters to keep from actually noticing. The exceptions are when death is right in front of us or when we know the person or when we decide to pay attention. If we did not have these filters we would probably be in a constant state of despair as the millions of beings that die every day impacted on our psyches. This would be particularly difficult if we were feeling the thousands of humans who pass on, mostly in fear and despair. But we do have filters and have the option of ignoring or not noticing the life spans of others.

What is true, as of this moment, is that no one who might be reading this will be alive in 100 years. Well that is not a total certainty I suppose but is a relative certainty. Never the less we continue to live our lives as if we are immortal. I have been noticing my own reactions to the aging process and realizing that I still do not totally believe that this life cycle will end, not at the gut emotional level anyway. On the other hand, sometimes I feel it quite strongly and am anxious to experience this experience that we have but once in each incarnation.

There is this Sufi dictum of die before death. You hear it a lot as it is bandied about as a kind of benchmark or ideal to strive for or possibly something to admire in others but you don’t really want to know what it feels like. Die before death. What do you suppose it means? What you must not do is decide from some intellectual point of view. This statement contains a great secret that a person either knows or does not know. It is one of the most important realizations when a person discovers that they want to know, that they really try to give definition to all of these pithy little sayings but that they simply do not know. The mind constantly strives to grasp and create meaning, to understand and define but sometimes it simply is not possible. Die before death means what it means. To define the saying prior to its realization in your being is to deny yourself the possibility of discovery.

So, what are your thoughts on death? I am curious.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Friday, November 25, 2005


"My heart has become an ocean, Beloved, since Thou hast poured Thy love into it."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

Long before I knew what a Sufi was I had a copy of Pir Vilayat’s first book, or I guess it was his first book, “Toward The One.” It had a lot of good information in it but it was almost impossible to read because of the type font and the lay out. But, inside was a poster, which I still have somewhere. I had this poster hanging in the wall of my bedroom and I used to sit on my bed and read it over and over. The above quote was the main sentence, larger than all the others, more prominent on the poster. I used to puzzle over this saying, not being sure who the Beloved was. I figured it had to be some kind of reference to God but it certainly was not the God I was taught about, a remote amorphous being who occasionally, and apparently quite randomly, deigned to notice and even less often, interfere in human affairs. I was taught that if one prayed often enough and sincerely enough that I might, just might, get noticed and replied to. How this reply would come was not very well explained but I would have to keep an eye out. It was all very elusive while appearing to be definitive. At least that is my memory of that training.
As has happened to many others, there came a point when I simply stopped paying attention to this training, rejected it, but did not have anything to replace it with. So, as with so many others my age, I became a hippie. That is another story but the point is that the search went on. Even as a pot smoking hippie I knew it too was false. The whole flower child ideal was a kind of illusion, created to respond to an inner pressure to understand the Universe in some way other than the way it had been explained by theologians determined to be in control. So, in the search for something to replace this obviously flawed system I read everything I could find. And that book, “Toward The One” appeared.
So, I would sit on my bed and read the poster over and over. Mostly I would roll the above quote around in my mind, trying to understand what it really meant. Of course the mind is not the proper place for such statements, they belong in the heart but I didn’t know that at the time.
What I firmly believe is that this book, with it’s poster, came to me as a clue or maybe as a kind of starting place. The journey from getting the book to finding my teacher was a long and confusing one but worth every bit of effort expended in both directions. It is as if one is unwittingly drawn to one’s true path through all sorts of little clues that one may or may not understand at the time, probably not. Maybe it doesn’t matter. What is probably more important is for each of us to recognize our own need to be recognized as precious. Little clues come to you that you will not recognize or that you will insist are something else. Perfectly normal. But, when something resonates deep in your being, seemingly more powerfully, as well as more subtly, than other things seem to, then you can allow this resonance to expand and become the road that leads you to who you really are.

Love & Blessing, Musawwir

Monday, November 21, 2005


“A cup which is already filled, or even partially filled, does not give free accommodation for that knowledge which the teacher wishes to pour into the heart of his pupil.” Hazrat Inayat Khan

Once you decide to start the inner work of self realization and have chosen a path, perhaps taken initiation with someone and have that person as your spiritual teacher/guide, then the real work begins. Every mystical school has some form of personal guidance, some kind of one-on-one interaction that, to the beginner, can be somewhat intimidating. For some it is very formal and remote seeming for others, mine included, it is based on friendship and friendly interaction.
It is very common for a student to seek to discover how his/her teacher thinks about them. I have always thought of this as one of the more frustrating aspects of being a student of a spiritual teacher, never really being sure where you stand. I think most people who are following some kind of spiritual path have heard any number of clichés about why this is. The empty cup metaphor, as recited above, is common to all spiritual paths and there are others. One should never ask the teacher about themselves because one may not want to know the answer. Sometimes the answer is not going to make sense. One should always be in the position of the student, paying attention, listening, allowing the empty cup to be filled, even struggling to figure out just what it means to be an empty cup. All of this, plus much more, are the sorts of things that a spiritual student will hear about the manner in which they should think of being a spiritual student.
I guess we all want to know where we stand. We all want to know that our self assessment is the correct one. Or, to know that what we have always suspected is true about ourselves is not true. It is a bit scary to think that there is someone in the world who can look at us and tell us these things. It would be much better to keep our secrets. Never the less, having chosen someone as a spiritual guide we have to work at trusting that they have our best interests at heart.
It just occurred to me that there are probably lots of people reading this who have never experienced what it is like to entrust their soul to another. In fact Westerners tend to see this sort of thing as intrusive. Often I will hear someone say that they are quite capable of doing their own study without benefit of a guide. True enough I suppose however, as a Sufi master once said, “One may attain the purpose of life without a personal guide, but to try to do so is to be like a ship traversing the ocean without a compass.” You might be able to do it but why try? We have in our society the myth of the rugged individual, able to meet all challenges without any help from anyone. Our literature and culture is full of stories like this. Unfortunately the myth, in this case, is not real. “No man is an island,” is a much more accurate statement. So, once a person reaches a point in their experience of living where they realize there is something within, which they suspect, but are not sure of, a guide becomes necessary.
Give some thought to the above and then post your thoughts if you so choose.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, October 31, 2005


"Life is an opportunity, not only of accomplishing one's desires, but of fulfilling even the deepest yearning of the soul." Hazrat Inayat Khan

I just received an e-mail from my daughter telling me, and some few others, that her husband, my son in law, won the German Natural Bodybuilding Championships on Saturday. To me this is just amazing. When I tell people about him, or show a picture the reactions vary, from awe to repulsion. Awe because he did it and repulsion because how could he do that. What is interesting to me is how few see the dedication and discipline that he has put in and continues to put in to maintain this body. What I finally realized about Daron was that he is so competitive by nature that competing against anything but the very best is just not possible for him so he has to do this. His deep desire is to be the best. What is so very impressive is his absolute determination to fulfill this deep desire.
How many of us have vibrations within us that we acknowledge in some manner without really thinking of the source? There is an analogy that a friend of mine uses to describe this. He says that fulfillment of desire is linked to mastery. For instance; a young man has a desire to own a '57 Chevy Bel-Air, completely restored. He wants it so bad that he can taste it. So, he searches and searches til he finally finds a rusty hulk with no tires, most of its wiring in tatters, no windows and lots of rust. He gets a job to pay for the parts he needs, including tools to work on the vehicle and spends every spare moment restoring. At the end of two years of total dedication, he has a completely restored vehicle that is the envy of all his friends and, for him, an instant chick magnet. That is mastery and desire working together. What he has really done is followed through on a desire for mastery of his personal reality. And he succeeded. It is the same with anyone who wants something so ardently that they master a number of skills in order to succeed. What does all of this say about humans in general? Or, perhap a better question would be, what does it say about Divine intent?

"Man is born in a universe that is going on automatically and he is born helpless. It is true that the condition is such. But with what is the child born? He is born with a desire to do as he wills. This desire is the proof that there is freewill. a freewill which is put to the test under all the opposing conditions and influences which the woul meets through life. To rise above all the opposing influences and to give the fullest expression to the feewill brings about that result of life, which is the fulfilllment of the soul's coming on earth." HIK

Taking the above quote as a benchmark we can then extrapolate quite a bit of information. the first thing would be that Desire is an aspect of Divine intent. If we accept that Divine intent, or the Intelligence of the universe, is the motivation force for creation. And, if we accept that we are a part of the Universe and not separate from it, then our desires are also part of the Universe's or the Divine intent. Secondly, and this is a cornerstone of Sufi thinking, in order for the Universe to truly discover its intent, it must allow for free will. There must be an aspect of the Universe, us, which has volition and which can decide how it will respond to the Desire which seems to be an integral part of its existence. Finally, for our purposes anyway, a large part of our task is rising above the paradoxes of life, or totally embracing free will in a way that integrates all the forces and influences to create the most perfect response to life's conditions.

What do you think?

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


"The moment man realizes when to speak, and when to keep silence, he takes his first step in the path of wisdom."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

I wonder how many, when reading such things, wonder if they have every experienced the state being referred to. "Do I know when to keep silent," we think to ourselves? "How much of my life is wrapped up in reaction to the point where I really do not know how conscious my thoughts and responses really are." Or, how many, upon reading such things feel as if they are doing something wrong.
Sufism is hard. Pir Vilayat used to say that it was the hardest of the ism's. He would give various reasons for this but I think the real reason is that there are no rules. We try hard to create rules and doctrine because humans like them but there really are no rules. Really. All rules are cultural, created by humans to better allow us to live together. They may be couched in religio-political terms but ultimately they really are about cooperation and who gets to be in charge in different situations. This is a good thing as we need something like this in each culture. It is a good thing right up to the point that beings begin telling other beings that they are wrong, so wrong that they must be punished, not for some crime as in theft or murder, but because they are not conforming to the rules.
People who follow the spiritual path know this yet many still create rules, alternative perhaps but rules none the less, just because that is what humans do. What rules you might ask? One should be kind, one should never criticize, one must be humble, never fight, be thankful for whatever comes your way and so on. Take the above quote for example. It seems quite reasonable, wise in fact. So what will tend to happen is this phrase will enter into the mythos of those who follow the teachings of masters such as Hazrat Inayat Khan. Then these self same followers will begin monitoring other followers to see if they are conforming to this and other statements made by whatever master is being emulated. Then a thing that all mystics dread begins to happen, doctrine gets formed. It may be unwritten but it will be there.
There is one thing that irritates me no end. (By the way, I demand the right to be irritated) That is when you are having a discussion with someone and they stop the conversation cold by saying, "Pir Vilayat said........or Pir Zia said.........." If you cannot muster up your own arguments bringing the Pir's into it does not make you any better or any more knowledgable. Besides, as anyone who has been around any length of time should know, the statements of the moment are in the moment, not for ever and ever. Something said in a state of deep meditation is not the same as the same thing said in normal consciousness. Which should cause you to wonder about the many scriptures and their accounts of the speeches and homilies of the various prophets.
So, how does one know when to follow the rules? You don't. What you do is seek your own authenticity. If, as Pir O Murshid states above. you find yourself with a compelling sense that silence is best in some situation that would ordinarily call for discourse, then you understand. If you are intellectually telling yourself the above then it isn't yet true for you. And that, my friends, is the real key to the spiritual life, authenticity.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

ps: Please, please never say "Musawwir said'. I cannot imagine a worse fate then to be quoted in support of someone else's opinion.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

“All surrender to beauty willingly and to power unwillingly.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan
“If thou desire the presence, union with God Most High, from him be not absent;
When thou visitest thy Beloved, abandon the world and let it go.”
The word surrender, in English, has some very definite connotations, none of which are warm and cuddly. Surrender brings up images of domination by a superior force and of being compelled into an action one would rather not take. That is in English. I understand that other languages do not necessarily have this problem. A friend of mine, who is Japanese, tells me that her language has two words for surrender that are not interchangeable in usage, one being much as I have described and the other acceptance of love’s enfoldment. It would not surprise me to find that other Eastern languages make some distinction like this. We must, however, deal with what we have and what we know and I only know English, which is why the use of the word has always sent a slight shiver up my spine.
Maybe this whole concept of surrender is easy for you, if so I applaud your understanding, me, I never liked the idea. Whenever I would hear someone speak of surrender, surrender to the Beloved for example, my immediate reaction always seemed to be, “There’s no way I’m doing something I don’t understand.” The words, surrender to the Beloved, do have a certain poetic appeal I suppose but to me it sounded like conceding power to whoever this Beloved character turns out to be. Which is exactly correct as it turns out but I had the connotation wrong. It is the problem of language that causes these little logjams in our thinking. To the mystic words always have at least two levels of meaning. The first is the use the word has in the empirical world wherein it is used as description, identification, etc. and the second is the use it is put to in attempting to describe the indescribable world beyond reason. Within this latter world or state, surrender takes on a whole new dimension.
The two paragraphs above are excerpts from another chapter of The Sovereign Soul. I have been giving a lot of thought to surrender of late, still trying to puzzle out just what it is. There is a definite physical sensation that one can have when one surrender’s to Love’s embrace. I do not mean “hot and bothered” either. I am talking about something quite different. Surrendering to our physical instincts has a certain charm I suppose and certainly a definite purpose but surrendering to our higher states of being is what is in question in this instance. The former is well known, the later not so much. Surrendering to the Beloved in Sufism has some very definite meanings.
I am going to make a kind of thumbnail sketch here and then leave it to you to fill it out. Love is the outcome of the Divine Intent to know itself. Love causes creation but then, in order to recognize itself requires a Lover, that’s us. The Lover then needs an object of
adoration to focus his attention upon, that would be what we call the Beloved. Therefore Love creates the Lover out of need for recognition and the Lover creates the Beloved out of devotion and the need to love something, to express the Divine Intent. A kind of Celestial cause and effect.
So perhaps you can see how surrender fits in here. Let’s see what people come up with.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Friday, October 14, 2005

“There are some, the closer destiny brings together, the further are their hearts thrown apart; and there are others, the further destiny throws apart, the closer are their hearts brought together.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
Every so often someone will ask me what I think of as ‘the destiny question.’ Usually it is a question about the nature of destiny such as does destiny or fate actually exist? But what is really being asked is, “Am I okay? Am I doing the right things?” or something of that nature.
When one studies this idea, what we call destiny, one can perhaps begin to see that a great deal of Destiny is in fact the condition of the world. For instance a person raised in the US will have a very different outlook on life than a person raised in the Caucasus. They may even be born on the same day, have close to identical astrological charts but still their attitudes will be very different, what they think is possible will be very different.
My very best friend on the whole planet, besides my wife, is a woman who lives in Vienna Austria. One could say that we met purely by accident. I happened to see her name on a news group that I occasionally looked at and right away noticed that she has, or had, it has since changed, the same spiritual name as mine. I wrote her a personal note, we started corresponding and found that we have much in common. Further than that we discovered a kind of sibling love that became deeper the longer we talked. Eventually she and her husband visited us in New York and the love became even deeper. I think we both feel much better about the world knowing that our spiritual sibling exists. In fact I think that we are able to support one another and aid our individual spiritual lives as a result of having found one another. To me the question then is, what prompted her to write her note to the news group, something I found later she would not ordinarily do, and what prompted me to scroll down far enough to find her name and send a note. Destiny? Fate? There is no question between us that we are connected at a soul level and this prompted our discovering one another. It simply had to be. And, as Pir O Murshid says above, the distance serves to bring our hearts closer together.
That is just a tiny example of how things really work. In our limited perspective we want to ascribe these things to all sorts of magical reasons or simple coincidence. Gosh this could turn into a whole chapter in my next book. Destiny is a very deep study of the interrelationships of the Soul, Divine Intent, Physical Conditions and many many other factors.
Let’s see what we can come up with.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Friday, October 07, 2005

This world is a house of mirrors, the reflection of one is mirrored upon another. In this world where so many things seem hidden, in reality nothing remains hidden; everything some time or other rises to the surface and manifests itself to view.
The concept of the Palace of Mirrors runs all throughout the deeper teachings of Sufism. Briefly stated it says that all things reflect all other things all of the time. This is a simple statement, not many words at all yet it has enough depth to keep a person occupied for their lifetime attempting to discover all of the permutations of such a statement. And, as Pir O Murshid says above, nothing is hidden. Now that is a scary thought.
We are so used to having secret thoughts, hidden desires and clandestine acts and attitudes, that we keep from even our closest friends, that the idea of all things being open and known is a bit difficult to want to accept. Additionally the thought that All Things reflect All Other Things is kind of complex to wrap one’s mind around. There is a good answer to these thoughts, don’t think.
Now that we have solved that………………!
Seriously, these concepts, and that is just what they are until they become reality for you, these concepts are best felt, not thought about. One cannot really think about everything-everywhere-all the time, there is too much, too many things. Does a star reflect a worm? Does the flea relate to the Crab Nebula? We can maybe understand stars communicating with one another if we accept that there might be come kind of consciousness there and maybe we can even think about the atoms that comprise a star interacting but it is difficult to think of those atoms also reflecting, mirroring, us. In our normal conscious state we tend to focus on either our personal problems or the task before us. The idea that all things are in a constant state of interaction can be a stretch.
My friend Raqib asked that I say something about the last sentence in the previous blogs quote from Hazrat Inayat Khan, which was, “The difference between consciousness and the soul is that the soul is like a mirror, and the consciousness is a mirror which shows a reflection in it.” I had to think about this a bit myself. The way it might be thought of is to see that the soul is part of this constant interaction with all things, it is within Unity where everything is everywhere and has no need to describe or to focus on a particular thing, such as problems or tasks. The consciousness on the other hand must focus and therefore it creates a reflection to focus upon. This is another example of the two basic states of awareness that mystics constantly speak of, Multiplicity within Unity vs. Unity within Multiplicity. This thought can then lead to the question, why? The answer of course is, because. There are very elaborate metaphysical explanations for all of this. The great metaphysician Muhiyuddin Ibn al Arabi wrote over three hundred books of explanation many of which are available in translation, some of which I have read. They are exciting to decipher and lots of fun to think about but eventually a person must come to their own understanding.
The Universe exists. As Intelligence? Perhaps. What is certain is that we have existence within The Universe. What that means to each of us and how we explain our own existence is also up to us.
Tell me then what you feel. Do you occasionally feel the pull of The Universe? Or is this all a strange and unimportant area of exploration. Can you get to a place of no-thought? Does that even have meaning. I look forward to your comments.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, October 03, 2005

“Intelligence and soul are not two things; it is only a condition of the Intelligence which is the soul. The Intelligence in its original aspect is the essence of life, the Spirit, or God. But when this Intelligence is caught in an accommodation such as body and mind, its original nature of knowing then knows and that knowing Intelligence becomes consciousness. The difference between consciousness and the soul is that the soul is like a mirror, and the consciousness is a mirror which shows a reflection in it.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan
The other day I took one of those on line IQ tests. Around 50 questions, mostly problem solving. At the end I hit enter and waited for my results. Imagine my surprise to learn that my IQ had increased exactly one point in the 42 years that had passed since the last time I took an IQ test. No, I am not going to tell you what it is. That does not matter so much as what I have been thinking about intelligence.
As some of you know, we have two children living with us, an eight year old boy and a girl almost three. Now it has been a very long time since either Majida or myself has had young children to deal with on a regular basis so it has been an interesting time remembering old, hard won, skills. In fact we have both noticed that we are a lot better at it this time for having had some practice and a bit of time to assimilate. But that is not what I wanted to speak to. What I have been noticing is the difference between innate intelligence and acquired knowledge. I suppose this will be no surprise to any parent that pays attention that children have deep intelligence. What they lack is acquired habits and what we think of as civilized behavior patterns. And of course there are developmental things going on, motor skills, social skills, that sort of thing. I suppose a social scientist type person would be able to catalogue all of these things but the parent just observes and deals with them as they come up.
What does all of this have to do with a spiritual essay? Well go back and read Pir O Murshid’s quote above. The Intelligence, Aq’l in Sufism, exists and imparts its existence to the soul. The soul therefore is an aspect of Divine Intelligence, perhaps acting as a kind of agent. The Intelligence, in its role of soul, when manifesting creates for itself a means of expression as well as a means of accumulating knowledge, Alim, thereby becoming something greater than it was or at least different. And we get to participate. It fact we might see our consciousness as the interface between Divine Intent as manifested in Aq’l and physical reality. I am mentioning all of this in order to perhaps get a bit of perspective on our personal problems and to see what is really taking place as opposed to our individual ego driven point of view. So what I would like is some comments about the above. Do you ever feel this deep intelligence kind of lurking behind the scenes? Do you sometimes wonder how you know things? Let us see what we come up with.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Saturday, September 24, 2005

“Loving is why my heart beats a path to your door.”
Bill Champlin
The quote is a line from a 70’s rock and roll song from a West Coast band that never really made it big but had some very good tunes. I liked them and I always liked that line, for a lot of reasons. First of all it is just good poetic phrasing, simple words conveying complex meaning. Next it suggests romantic devotion willing to dare for the sake of romantic love. It identifies the heart as the responder and the initiator of an action. Then, if we step back and remove boy/girl from the equation, it can be made to speak to Divine devotional love or the response to the call. Quite a lot to get from a single line in a rock song. When you look, this kind of thing is everywhere as I am sure everyone knows. Actually allowing ourselves to experience the emotion the poet speaks to is, however, more subtle.
In Sufism Love is Wadud, the state of Divine creative energy that is the reason for the Universes. Pir Vilayat expresses it this way, “From the solitude of It’s Unity, the Divine Being fragmented itself out of love for the possibility of you and I.” I hope I have that right. I am sure it is close to what he says. Just imagine the quality of energy that expresses itself by creating the immense vastness of the many planes of existence solely for the love of the possibility of you and I. Does this not make the purpose of your life all that much more precious?
It took me a long time to get close to Wadud. Maybe because to the English speaking ear it sounds a little silly. Sounds like you are saying, “Hey dude, what’s up?” Maybe you are. What one is doing though, in repeating any of the Sifat, the Divine attributes of Allah, is reaching for the Cosmic emotion that the use of the word lies within. There is also a secret within the vibrational quality of the syllables themselves. That takes some work and some training to get to but it is there. According to Pir Vilayat’s saying, in the case of Wadud, we might be reaching for the reason existence exists. I have always found it interesting that the mystics choose to express this idea as Love. I am not a linguist so I am not sure but it occurs to me to wonder if this expression of the idea of Divine intent as Love did not at some time seep into the consciousness and become the various forms of meaning that the word currently has.
The above is a short excerpt from my next book. I thought maybe we could have a conversation around this subject.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

“The wise of all ages have taught that it is the knowledge of the divine Being that is life, and the only reality. Although a human activity may have a number of complicated motives, some of which are base and gross, it is the aspiration towards divinity, the desire towards beauty, which is its soul, its life, its reality. And it is in proportion to the degree of strength or weakness of his aspiration towards beauty that man's ideal is great or small, and his religion is great or small.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses to the last article. Last night one of my mureeds visited me and posed a similar question which I found difficult to answer. Then, in searching for something the above quote came up, not necessarily as a direct answer to her question but as a means of examining what the response might be.
The problem she posed was not that uncommon, in fact Pir Vilayat often alluded to a similar issue from his early days. The way she stated it was to ask me what to do about people who come to her and, in her words, wonder why it hurts when they stick a fork in the electrical receptacle, as allusion to a conversation earlier in the evening about children who do such things. They ask and ask and, even though she tries to avoid giving advice, eventually she gives in and says, “Don’t do that!” to which they often reply, “That’s pretty arrogant of you to judge me that way!” Is this familiar to anyone? You have this desire to help, might even be good at it but, when you give your response to the dilemma or predicament, your very reasonable advice is rejected, even though it was asked for. If this happened once or twice in your life it could be acceptable but, when it happens repeatedly, it can become something very annoying.
In Pir Vilayat’s case, he often told of his early experiences being the center leader in Paris. This was before he decided to come to the US and work here. People would come to him and ask him what their biggest fault was so they could work on it. And he told them. He rapidly learned that was a really bad idea. No one really wants to hear what their biggest fault is, what they want is someone to tell them that they are really okay and this is a not so clever means of asking for validation. The inevitable result was that they resented his information and would get really angry. As a result he adopted a policy of never giving advice. I think this took awhile because I can remember from my early days in the SOI that he would give allusions or hints but during his last ten years or so he consistently refused to give any personal advice at all.
I must say that I notice this tendency in myself. I try to keep in mind not giving personal advice but still I do it. Apparently this human tendency to fix other people is almost a genetic imperative. Therefore, it would seem that not giving advice could almost be a spiritual practice. On the other hand, one should not necessarily be totally rigid about it, there should be a balance in there somewhere.
Let’s look back at the above quote and see if there is a clue in there. It might come from turning the problem on it’s head. Assuming that the God Ideal has some power in your life, is it possible for you to look at whatever the issue is from a very high perspective. For instance, will it truly be helpful for this person to have an answer presented to them? Or, would it be better for them to refuse to say anything and watch as they continually stick the fork in the electrical socket, get burned, jerk back their hand wondering why it hurts and do it again. Then they turn back to you with pain in their eyes and ask why you won’t help. Do you know with certainty what they are learning? This person who visited me last night is always accusing me of answering her questions with a question. She thinks that is hilarious that I will never simply say it is this or that but I think it is frustrating to her as well. I suppose that some of you may have noticed the same thing in my answers to you. What I am doing, or think I am doing, is widening the question, making the problem you may be trying to resolve a lot bigger so that you might see more aspects. Just as Pir O Murshid is talking of the God Ideal above and pointing out that it has degrees, so do our personal problems, as well as the problems of others, have degrees if only we can see them.
Right now my tendency is to resolve all of the above in some clever way and make it all very clear. The truth is that I am not all that clear about it but I do know that there is an answer in there somewhere. Maybe not a directive so much as an attitude that can be aspired to. Let’s talk about it and see what works for some of us.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"So many talk about the purification of heart, and so few really know what it is. "
Hazrat Inayat Khan

In the early 80’s Majida and I lived on 14th St and 2nd Ave in Manhattan. At that time 14th St had not yet been given the face lift it subsequently received later in the decade so the native life was colorful to say the least. Never the less, most mornings I would venture forth to buy a Times. One morning I returned, spread the Times on the kitchen table and glanced at the front page while putting some bread in the toaster. I did a genuine double take and looked at the front page closer. For the first time in my memory of numberless front pages of countless newspapers, from cities all over the world, every single headline was positive, said something nice or talked about something pleasant. I was stunned, well not stunned exactly, charmed would be a better word. Ever since, which would be for the last 25 years, I have looked for a similar front page mostly in the Times but in other papers as well but it never happened again. In fact the opposite is much more likely, front pages full of horrible events, with nary a pleasant headline to be seen. Why is this?
One reason I suppose is to believe that nothing nice ever does happen. I suspect that lots of people think that way, about themselves and about the world. It is very common to meet someone you know and to listen to them launch into a litany of their ills. Often this will be a long list of resentments or disappointments. In fact you may find yourself agreeing and supplying your own list. Then you can compete to see whose list is the most potent. Or, you can complain about the current state of the government, its many short comings and what you think would make things better, though probably things will not get better because someone will interfere.
I think we can all recognize ourselves here. I am certainly as prone to this sort of response as anyone. For the free-thinker, the question then becomes what to do about it. My solution tends to be noticing. I endeavor to notice when I am supporting my negative responses and see if I can redirect my thoughts. Often this is a big struggle because all of those around me are not doing this. For instance I happened to say to someone the other day that I thought that Geo. Bush was probably sincere in his version of Christianity and did try to be as genuine as possible. This someone refused to accept that anything nice could be said about Mr. Bush and proceeded to prove to me with various allegations that it was all an act. I kept quiet and let her rant. There was no point but I did file it away as another example of the need to see all as awful, especially to demonize someone who has become the archetype of what we feel is wrong with everything.
I am very curious to know what others think about the above. Do you notice when you get caught up in resentment and disappointment? If so, what do you do about it?
I am looking forward to your comments.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, September 05, 2005

Touching the Beloved
“The need of the world today is not learning, but how to become considerate towards one another. To try and find out in what way happiness can be brought about, and in this way to realize that peace which is the longing of every soul; and to impart it to others, thereby attaining our life's goal, the sublimity of life.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
So often I hear expressed from people a sense that something is missing in their lives, some essential thing, an emptiness within that seems unfillable. So we look for something to guide us, some group or method or discipline which will aid us in informing our inner being that we are on a path or reconciliation with the deep desire of the Soul.
Here is a partial transcript of an IM conversation I recently had with a student of mine. I thought she was telling me that she was always trying to get people to see their light. So this was my response:
Musawwir: that way lies disappointment - I mean it seems to be blaming all the people you know who cannot do what you do
C: What do I do?
Musawwir: I used to do that too. watch people to see if they realized how cool I am
C: no you got it wrong. That is not what I meant.
Musawwir: Oh? Okay then tell me.
C: I want to be what people need me to be, and when they need it. I want to help people with whatever they need that I can help them with.
Musawwir: ah, Okay that’s different.
C: I want to shine my light on their path so they can use it to see. But I need a brighter light sometimes.
Musawwir: Good, so that is your work, constantly working on the self in order to be what others need you to be. We are talking about the same thing then
And we went on to complete our conversation.
We each express our longing slightly differently. For some it is pretty simple, “Let me embrace the Beloved.” For others, like my friend it is more complex since she is very aware of her impact on others and is striving to be as aware and as available as possible in order to be that which others need her to be. A very delicate place to be as it requires one to continually be aware of one’s own ego and it’s need for acknowledgement. As I said to her about myself, waiting for others to realize how cool I am.
If, as Pir O Murshid says above, the need of the world is consideration, how far does that go? Certainly in the past week we have had some extreme
examples of consideration and lack thereof. Not just from a bureaucracy that has trouble doing anything quickly but also from those who are afraid and need to control their environment with violence. Where does this leave the person who has this need to shine?
For just a moment allow yourself to feel the possibility of Peace. Not as an interval between conflicts, but as a Divine state of being that exists constantly but that we sometimes have difficulty of access. Peace as a constant, not a potential. See if you can experience this state even for just an instant. You can find it through the breath, focusing on the rhythm of the breath and then focusing the energy of the breath through the heart space.
Read the above again, see what you feel and tell others. And see if the Beloved, that constantly calls to you isn’t a bit closer.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

As the Hurricane Katrina blasted through Louisiana and Mississippi leaving all that devastation in its wake I, like many, watched the news feeling intensely sorry for the people who had to now deal with all of this destruction. Since it was so much closer, my psyche was naturally more affected than it was by last year’s Tsunami in SE Asia. And that affected me greatly. Normal human reaction I suppose. I was curious to know what Hazrat Inayat Khan might have said about these natural phenomena and found the following:

When one looks at the cosmos, the movements of the stars and planets, the laws of vibration and rhythm - all perfect and unchanging - it shows that the cosmic system is working by the law of music, the law of harmony. Whenever that harmony in the cosmic system is lacking in any way, then in proportion disasters come about in the world, and its influence is seen in many destructive forces which manifest in the world. If there is any principle upon which the whole of astrological law is based - and the science of magic and mysticism behind it - it is music.”

Wow. That doesn’t look so good does it? It seems to say that we create the psychic conditions that demand hurricanes or tsunamis. Some will even see these conditions with a certain delight. “See, I told you so!” That sort of thing. So, those of us with, what we might think of as, a slightly broader point of view can point at those whom we think of as creating this untenable situation with blame on our minds. Or, we can let our vision grow even broader and wonder what God is thinking about all of this.

Whenever I see things like this I am reminded of something that I read of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s about war. I can’t find the quote right now but what he essentially said was that to us war is total devastation to God war is interesting. Does God see war as rebalancing too do you think?

So, my question to you is; how do you see all of this? Do you feel a certain sense of glee or excitement in knowing that these conditions might have been self generated? Do you think that there were no hurricanes during the Jurassic period for instance? Can you conceive of what might have been the balancing necessary then? Let’s see what we can come up with.

Much Love, Musawwir

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

It is truly exciting to see the possibilities of this medium.

So far we have had comments from the US of course, but also Russia, Germany, Switzerland and Malaysia. Still to be heard from are Australia and Canada.

Can you imagine what this means? Sufism, or any spiritual path for that matter, is no longer restricted to a town or village where the teacher resides and anyone who wants to be with him or her must travel there. Now we can gather together on the internet and learn with one another. Naturally this means that one must have access but I think that almost everyone on my list has a pc. The second ingredient is participation. It is well known that less than 10% of people on a list will actually post. Understandable I suppose. Now, unlike what you may be expecting, I do not really care if you post or not. That is entirely up to you. What I do care about however is whether or not people are aware that there is a vast community out there that we all belong to. You may participate directly or you may simply keep all of your brothers and sisters in your heart.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Here is my first post, to which you can reply with your comments. I am currently very interested in just what it means to be spiritual, to be a Sufi. I am thinking more and more that it has little to do with what others say it is and really is comprised of one's personal experiences, whatever they may be. Comments?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Musawwir Gowins Posted by Picasa