Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Unconditional Love

Do  you know what it feels like to be loved?  Not because you are returning love or because of some kind of exchange, as in “Love me and I will love you!”  but just to be loved for no other reason then that you exist.  I recently had a conversation with a young lady who has just discovered this.  We agreed that it is daunting.  There is no expectation, no understanding, no agreement, just love.  She keeps looking for the catch and there is none.  For most of us, our relationships tend to revolve around agreements, e.g. ; I will live with you if you will live with me and reflect who I am in the manner that I expect.  That is how most relationships are.  However, when someone says they love you with no expectation of return, that is, or can be, intimidating.  It kind of puts you in the position of wondering what is going on.  Are they hustling me?  Is there something I don’t understand here?  And you might look over your shoulder and wonder if maybe this person got the wrong guy/girl.  What is funny is that a lot of people will deliberately do something to push the person who is doing the loving away because it just is too much to deal with.  And they will do this pushing away quite unconsciously.  So what can we do to accept Love in our lives?
The first and foremost step is to recognize that, despite our many flaws - all of whom show up at these moments - we are essentially lovable.  This may be the biggest hurdle to get over, that we are loved even though we are quite convinced that we do not deserve it.  It has nothing to do with what you deserve and has everything to do with Divine recognition.  Something about you stirs an essential response in the person who is loving you and they find it in themselves to acknowledge it.  In the case of a spiritual teacher or someone in that category this sort of thing is more or less expected though it can be none the less daunting.  When it comes from an individual who is shining the searchlight of their recognition directly upon you personally – well that can be quite uncomfortable.  
In the case of my young friend it was almost terrifying.  She kept telling me that no one in her life had ever allowed her to be who she is, and that may be key.  
People who express love to others almost always do so with some kind of demand.  It can be subtle but it will almost always be there.  Think about your own expressions.  Do you say, “I love you,” with an expectation of hearing it back in return?  Do you say it from an overwhelming emotion of deep recognition of the soul of the person before you or is it more in the line of some kind of need for acknowledgment.  This can be true even of a mother telling a child they love them, though that does tend to be closer to unconditional.  I suspect that, for most of us, any expression of unconditional love has to be preceded by a deep understanding of our own flaws and a willingness to be totally vulnerable with no expectation of any kind of response or return.  Which should give us a profound clue as to the true nature of the Divine Being or the Thinking Universe or however we accept the Over soul.  
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Yesterday I received the galley proof of my book, the final step before publication. Wow! I saw the mailman arrive at our apartment building and went downstairs to hover while he distributed mail to all the boxes. Finally he came to the magazines and packages and gracefully pulled mine out. Two copies of the book! This is my first look at the reorganization of chapters and seeing the whole thing, not just pieces and parts that I was expected to review and approve. Last night I read half of it. I would have read the whole thing but Majida demanded that I go to bed.

When you near the end of a project like this there is a kind of unreal quality to the event. You struggle and struggle to push through, not quite believing that it is in fact happening but still working to keep going. All through this process there has been a part of me that expects it all to collapse at some point. I am not sure how this would happen but something horrible will occur and the whole thing will collapse. I recognize that this is normal thinking for someone from my social strata, the lower middle class, and I labor to ignore the thinking but still it is there. On the other hand, occasionally I feel the coming success to be quite normal and deserved. Maybe not so much deserved as inevitable. There are times when I feel quite ordinary about all of this. That, I think, is the emotion to strive for.

Here is a quote from Hazrat Inayat Khan that has guided me for many years in overcoming my resistance to accomplishment:
You may think, 'But if I keep on with the pursuit of my material desires, perhaps I may never reach the spiritual goal and will never get beyond my desires.' The answer to this is that if you let the desire go unfulfilled and you lack the patience needed to accomplish the desire, your progress will be arrested. This failure will keep you back from spiritual progress. When once you have accomplished one desire, you will have that something which is needed for the accomplishment of something greater. Every desire you accomplish is one step further towards that final goal which every soul ultimately has to reach.”

So what he is saying is that any accomplishment is important, any one at all. Everything is ultimately a spiritual pursuit. So my journey with the book has been one of constant self examination combined with moments of pure creativity. In between were moments of doubt, large malicious moments which seemed deadly and horrible. Then they are over. What you can learn is to see these moments as part of the transformation that you personally are working through so that the whole personality of the planet, of which you are a part, can transform. Isn’t that cool? You work on yourself and work on the whole at the very same time. The trick seems to be patience. What you are doing for yourself doesn’t appear to have much effect on the whole but, with a bit of patience and a bit of optimism, it may be possible to see your accomplishments as a part of the personality of the planet and further the personality of the Universe transforming itself.

Right now, the whole thing is confused and upset because of all the stresses involved in becoming a whole planet rather then disassociated societies that barely acknowledge one another. Anyone who is paying attention can see this. It may seem that we each must become very politically active and march and demand change and what not but maybe that isn’t it at all. Well it might be for some of us but for most it is a bit different. Our attention to our own deepening also deepens the whole planetary personality. It takes awhile and it isn’t always that rewarding but that is how it really works.

Give some thought to your own sense of accomplishment and responsibility and tell me about it.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Many moons ago, in the early 1970’s, I suppose I could get the exact date if I cared to do the research, I watched the very first Saturday Night Live telecast.  It was a total shock - a howl - we had never seen anything like this on TV before.  Laugh-in paved the way and SNL created the expressway.  There is really no comparison between those early shows and the lame SNL production of today.  Anyway, that is not what I want to talk about.  The one bit I remember the best started out as, what everyone thought was, a regular Gillette commercial for a new razor.   The Gillette Triple Header.  At the time there was no such thing and the commercial was introducing it.  I was a hippie and had a beard so I was only paying moderate attention as the commercial extolled the magic of three separate shaving heads.  Then at the very end, John Belushi, as the announcer, says, “The Gillette Triple Header, because You will believe Anything.”   I fell over I laughed so hard.  Who knew that thirty years later we would have just such a product, which people buy, convincing themselves that it is better.  Schick even has a quad head.  Geeze.  
Myself, I have gotten along with a double edge safety razor since I was 18 and it is fine.  Granted I have a really good German made one but that is only because I could not find an American made safety razor of comparable value, in fact when the Gillette one I had used for the past 20 years wore out, I couldn’t find one at all.  Maybe at a flea market.  I expect the German one I have to be used by my grandson and maybe his grandson, it is that well made.  What do we have of comparable value?
It is the same in spirituality.  We tend to accept what we are told is true, maybe because we really want to.  We want to believe that the people we trust are trust worthy and have our best interests at heart, just like the Gillette company wants you to have the best shave and constantly strives to improve it’s product.  Uh-huh.  What I am coming to believe more and more is that it is individual.  
There is this young woman with whom I speak occasionally who lives in Chicago.  From my point of view she is really young to be delving into spiritual things but that is kind of beside the point.  She is constantly questioning me, demanding that I explain, criticizing my style, asserting other points of view.   It is very refreshing.  I wish more people did that.  What it means is that I cannot simply assert any ole thing and expect her to swoon in delight at my pronouncement.  Nope, I have to have my stuff together and be willing to go deep into a subject.  
I seem to find people like this, the ones who are not going to simply accept.  And that is what I wish for everyone.  We all want an identity, we want something to tell us what we are, baseball fan, mom, steel worker, Christian, Muslim, whatever.  All of these identities give reassurance but they have rules.  Even being a mom has cultural rules, standards that the culture expects a mom to follow.  And most do.  What the true mystic does however is participate in the culture he is in while knowing that it is just cultural and not fixed.  As near as I can tell, God has no partiality for any culture, though those cultures do tend to think, in fact often demand, that God does.  
The key I think is to honor the culture one finds oneself in while also recognizing that it is cultural and not the whole of anything.  God, or the Universe, or whatever you might want to call it is not cultural except in as much as the many cultures are part of the whole.  
Give it some thought and see what comes.
Love and Blessings, Musawwir

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Majida and I have a small class in our home every Friday night. We do a little meditation, then we read something from the works of Hazrat Inayat Khan and discuss it a bit to see how people feel about what is said. Lastly we do some chanting. The discussions always seem to bring out interesting thoughts and feelings. I enjoy watching people process their inner world. I think it is important to learn to talk about the inner world. One effect is that you get to describe it to a sympathetic and supportive audience. We have one rule for these discussion sessions. The rule is no cross talk. No one is allowed to comment on what another person says except for Majida or myself. And we are very careful about what we say. The reason is obvious of course. These deep thoughts are so very secret in us that we bring them out reluctantly and we want our students to feel comfortable in revealing them, especially to themselves. It is quite wonderful to watch someone say something that surprises them. The looks of revelation on their faces are worth all the effort we go to. If we were to allow general comments then things would rapidly devolve into attack and defense, the normal mode of communication among humans. We established the rule just because of this.
People seem to want two things in normal everyday communication. One is to be right and the other is to fix the opinions of others. We know they would be ever so much better if only they would modify their thinking to be more in line with how we see their lives. Just think about how you listen to others and your impulses when they state something about themselves. I will bet anything that you instantly come up with several solutions for them. And this impulse extends beyond problems.
I have a very close relative whom I have yet to tell that I am about to be a published author. The reason I have not told him is that I know he will immediately want to tell me all the things I should do and how poor my contract is and on and on. He knows absolutely nothing about writing or publishing but there is not doubt in my mind about how the conversation will go. We all have someone, or several someone’s, in our family like this. If you are that someone then perhaps a bit of personality modification is in order. I have often thought that it is cowardice on my part to not tell him of my sudden success. On the other hand, why should I care.
There are many people, most people, to whom I do not reveal much of anything about my life. What would be the point? It is almost always best to keep your own council, as has been advised by many mystical sources, including Jesus I believe. On the other hand, the opportunity to examine your thoughts in a safe environment is priceless.
The normal mode of instruction in spiritual circles is for the teacher to talk, the students listen and accept. No discussion is allowed. For many years I thought this was the way I should be doing things and conducted my classes accordingly. Then some years ago, Majida and I - feeling a bit naughty – began to allow a bit of discussion, then a bit more. Gradually we have created this safe environment. The key I believe is listening. Usually, instead of commenting or criticizing, we try to ask just the right question that will hopefully help the person talking to see more of what they are trying to express. It is a tricky place but it can be done if you listen with the heart and not the critical mind.
Here is a little snippet from Pir O Murshid.
The general attitude of man is that of listening to all that comes from outside; and not only are the ears open to the external world, but even the heart is attached to the ears. The heart which is listening to the voices coming from the external world should turn its back on all that comes from there, and wait patiently until it becomes capable of hearing the voice from within.”

Love & Blessings, Musawwir