Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I have a new grand daughter! Ain't she a darling? Being a grand father is quite a bit different from being a father. For one thing I am a whole lot more patient then I was at 22 when my son was born. Quite frankly I was not ready to be a parent, not even close. I freely admit that I was not a very good father. I guess that's the way it is. Now it seems, with grandchildren I have a chance to make up for it. It isn't a perfect solution but perhaps it means something. The perfect solution would be a reset button to go back and do it over, better. Too bad life isn't a video game.
On this Thursday, the 23d, Thanksgiving day, I will be flying to Belgium to meet my new grand child. For the first time in forever I am giving up the normal T-day festivities to travel to Europe. It feels like the most perfect thing to do.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers and a wonderful week to everyone else.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Rose is a Rose

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who expressed what is probably a very common idea.  She said, "Have you ever thought how language limits thinking?  You cannot think what you cannot express.  I have thoughts that language cannot touch.  Maybe it is my limited mental abilities or that I am not a very deep thinker."  
Do others who read this blog also feel this at times?  
In any case, I know this person to be very smart and that she is indeed a deep thinker so I had to come up with a way to show her and maybe others that there is a mode of thinking which has nothing to do with mental abilities.
I asked her how she would describe a rose.  
She answered as most people would by saying that she would describe its parts, its attributes, perhaps its aroma, etc.  And I said, "Sure, but can you describe the rose itself?"  The answer is that you cannot describe the rose itself.  A description of its components will give a person who has seen a rose an idea of what you are talking about and that is usually adequate but what I am seeking is a description of roseness.  
We know that roses and other flowers exist.  We are aware of their beauty and the quality of their being.  Can we talk about their essence?  
Another example is roundness.  Can you describe roundness, which we see constantly, without speaking of an object that is round such as a table or a wheel or even a circle?  All of these are examples of roundness but how would you describe roundness itself?
There are so many things that we just accept as realities without being able to think of them as other than descriptions of their components, yet they exist as qualities in the Universe.  So, what does this say about our thought processes?  
Imagine for a moment that these essential attributes are imbedded so deeply in your psyche that it is difficult if not impossible to bring them forth as thoughts.  Never the less you can in fact think roundness or roseness or any of a number of basic attributes that we are aware of.  Most often you will think of components that use these attributes but you can also think of the  quality itself.  Thinking roundness is not the issue, describing it is.  If I say roundness everyone knows what I mean.  There is no need to describe roundness as it is a basic quality of the Universe.  Perhaps instead the human mind needs complexity and gets a bit worried when something is so simple that no additional description is necessary.  
Spirituality is like this.  The fundamental idea of all mystical systems is to become human which is a very simple state of being.  The complexity comes when we ascribe method and system to this idea.  We always approach becoming human from our cultural point of view which assumes that a human being must have the qualities that the culture believes are essential to the perfected human.  Not so but our cultural imperatives will demand it.  As I understand it the perfect human being is a person who lives totally in the present, intelligent of course, capable of many things, but always in the present, meeting each situation or condition on the merits of the present moment.  How often do we meet conditions or situations based on history or what our culture tells us should happen.  So we tend to create systems that look as if they are secret or superior or somehow better than the average person is capable of understanding.  Let us instead meet each event and each person on the merits of the moment.

Love and Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


"True spirituality is not a fixed faith or belief; it is the ennobling of the soul by rising above the barriers of material life.
Faith reaches what reason fails to touch."
Pir O Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

I have been thinking much about faith recently. It is hard to tell sometimes whether what I think is real is actually real or is simply the result of habit of thought. For instance, I have met several people recently who have stated emphatically that they do not believe in God. They seem to feel obligated to say this to me when they discover what I write about. That is okay with me if they feel this way but it puzzles me just what they do have faith in. And then I look at what I think I have faith in and wonder at myself.
First of all I should make something clear. Sufi's make a distinction between faith and belief. Faith is a known thing, based on one's real experiences. Belief is something a person relies on to be true even though there is no sustaining experience. This is different from the normal uses of the words in that faith and belief are often put together but used in this way they support one another.
What apparently happens to people who give any thought to this subject at all is that they tend to rely on early experiences to inform them of what to accept. This can happen in all sorts of ways and each person will make decisions about their faith or belief based on their assessment of their early experiences. For instance my early experiences in the Christian Church were fairly benign. There was the normal teaching about the supremacy of Jesus Christ along with the other standard fare but there was none of the illogical demands and hypocrisy that so often accompanies dogma. People went to church and paid their weekly obligation to support the organization but I never felt pressured to be something that I was not. Religion touched very lightly on my life. Consequently I decided at some point that God was okay. Not some kind of looming, quasi human, judgmental being, but a fairly nice guy. And that is where I seem to be today except that my deeper ideas about God have gotten much more expansive. This leads me to believe that a person who needs to express their lack of belief in God might have had a very different experience as a child.
Faith on the other hand, as defined above, is quite different. I have faith in my experiences, which I define as spiritual. Maybe they are hallucinations of some sort but if so they are darned good ones. My belief in some sort of Universal Intelligence apparently requires me to accept these experiences in a particular manner. Another person, who professes another sort of God or not-God would define them quite differently. But there are more basic forms of faith. We have faith in our existence. By that I mean that we know what our hands look like and accept that when we grasp something we can pick it up, especially if we have done so many times before as in a pencil or a fork. Taken further, if we meditate in some way, we have faith that, by sitting still and doing a breathing practice, a certain calm will descend over us. We may have a very different faith, thinking that it is not possible to feel calm and nothing will ever change this. Again, this is a result of early decisions we make. If this sort of person decides that they want to understand calm and really works at it then it is quite possible to alter their faith in their ability to become calm.
But what if there is something deeper? If a person does make a definitive shift in their faith factor I wonder if it is possible to alter still more. Said differently, it might mean that there are aspects of a person's being that have been veiled and are just now becoming accessible. This is belief combined with faith. I have changed, therefore I can change.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir