Saturday, December 22, 2007


"A person, however learned and qualified in his life's work, in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant."

Hazrat Inayat Khan

I realized something the other day. It came quite suddenly. I was at a yield sign, entering a parkway, waiting for a space in the traffic to merge. Someone slowed down and flashed their lights at me to let me know they would allow me in. I merged and raised my hand in a sign of gratitude. Just at that moment, I realized that, when I do the same for someone, allow them to merge into traffic ahead of me, I more or less expect some sign of gratitude from them. A wave will usually do or a nod of acknowledgment. When you drive the interstate at night and a truck passes you and you flash your lights to let the driver know that the rear of his trailer has cleared the front of your vehicle and it is safe to re-enter the right hand lane, the driver will usually flash his running lights as an acknowledgment of your politeness. I expect it and almost always get it but not every time. When the truck driver does not flash his running lights I feel cheated. It is silly I suppose but the memory of disappointment is there.

Another part of the realization I had was recognizing my expectation of disappointment. It was strange to realize that the two emotions exist simultaneously. On the one hand I expect to see someone's gratitude and on the other I expect to be ignored. And there is another thing that occurs to me.

I have this habit, which I suppose a lot of people who lived thru the 60's have. When I go someplace where I know the parking is going to be tight I ask what I call my parking genii to find me a parking space. When I arrive where I am going and find the parking space, which is almost always there, I thank my parking genii. I think of it as expressing gratitude to the Universe for the experience of living, even in this small way.

I used to think God, now I think Universe but I suspect they are the same thing. To have this wonderful opportunity of experiencing physical reality on such a beautiful planet; to be able to challenge our assumptions and values; to create a life's dream in a strange land - all of these things challenge us in a way that is truly creative and nourishing to the soul.

These little moments of gratitude which are expressed between strangers on the road, as I mentioned above, or an indication of the possibility of gratitude that we need to express toward whatever we think of as the creator of this wonderful opportunity. It may be random chaos or it may be intricately planned but whatever did create it, there is no doubt that it is wonderful and genuinely worth the effort.

What is to be avoided is gratitude guilt. Ya know? Someone, usually your mom but it could easily be another authority figure in your life, telling you that you should be grateful. This spoils gratitude. It is easy to see that if a child is continually told that they should be anything they are going to resent it. It isn't a natural emotion if it is forced on you. One of the most special moments in my life was when my grand daughter, then just over two, crawled up into my lap and said, "I love you grandpa." I thought I would melt. No one told her to do this, it was quite spontaneous. How do you think she would do if she were told to tell me? I cherish this moment and how she has grown to be totally honest about her emotions, angry as well as elated.

I believe that most cultures have some kind of ceremony of gratitude. Our Western culture, mostly Christian, certainly has these. I can remember sitting in Lutheran church, listening to the minister talk about being grateful and looking around at all the stern unhappy faces. I was a kid but I would wonder why nobody looked all that grateful. It confuses a little kid to be told that he should be feeling gratitude for being forgiven for sins that he didn't even know he was responsible for. How lame is that, but that is the message that was given, is still being given I suppose. Gratitude should not be demanded.

The question then is what is genuine in our emotions? If we express gratitude in some way do we expect an acknowledgment? And if we do then why do we expect something that should be freely given? It is a challenge isn't it.

This all goes back to my last blog about questions. Ultimately what is necessary is that we continually examine our emotions, our thoughts and our subliminal beliefs. Everything comes under the mental microscope, nothing is exempt. And then, eventually, gratitude will come.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, November 12, 2007


"Great knowledge is broad and unhurried, while small understanding is cramped and busy"

Zhuangzi as quoted in The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong

I love Karen Armstrong's books. I always learn something new about history, religious or otherwise and I always enjoy the wonderful insights she brings forth when she writes about her subject. My fondest wish is to have a nice long conversation with her some day.

The quote above is one of those sayings that you can use to examine the self. Is my knowledge broad and unhurried or do I remain small? My teacher, Pir Vilayat used to say something similar. He would say that we see ourselves as puny and unable to affect anything vast while our beings are magnificent and glorious. We live in a small illusion when all the while our true reality is immeasurable.

As I read The Great Transformation I am seeing that one of the most important ideas or philosophies to come from the Axial Age is self examination or what the Buddha called Mindfulness. One continually questions oneself. To sit and contemplate, to examine, to pursue each thought to its ending, to ceaselessly pay attention to your own reality is perhaps the most important of spiritual practices. This I have believed for many years but I really did not know that it all started over 2500 years ago. Humanity has actually learned a thing or two.

It is our habit, in this age of disappointment, to look to the ancient world as a time of peace and unity and wonderful simplicity. We want to believe that there was a time when humanity actually was peaceful. According to history it was not so. In fact, when you read The Great Transformation, besides the wonderful spiritual philosophies that were being developed, the one very obvious fact was that every one was in a constant state of warfare. The sage would look upon this warfare in any of several ways but usually in one way, that the wars raging around them and in which they were sometimes unavoidably involved, were merely small cramped busy understandings. What is different today is not that the cramped understandings have gotten any looser but that there are more and more people who are reaching for that true broad knowledge. Just the explosion of spiritual books in the past 100 years should tell you that. The only real question then is, what are you personally doing to enhance the breadth of your understanding?

In my last blog I wrote about endings and how all things eventually pass away into dust. "What then do we accomplish in the world if eventually it is all swept away into the wind as ashes?" A couple of people commented that it was what we did in between birth and death that really counts and of course that is true. However, there is more. There is a state of being that is hinted at in the deeper spiritual texts but which cannot really be explained. For centuries humanity has been talking around it, trying to say that which cannot be said, continually reaching for the unknowable.

"This craving for the attainment of what is unattainable, gives the soul a longing to reach life's utmost heights. It is the nature of the soul to try and discover what is behind the veil; it is the soul's constant longing to climb heights which are beyond his power; it is the desire of the soul to see something that it has never seen; it is the constant longing of the soul to know something it has never known. But the most wonderful thing about it is that the soul already knows there is something behind this veil, the veil of perplexity; that there is something to be sought for in the highest spheres of life; that there is some beauty to be seen; that there is Someone to be known who is knowable. This desire, this longing, is not acquired; this desire is a dim knowledge of the soul which it has in itself." Hazrat Inayat Khan

You will notice that Pir O Murshid states that the knowledge is already there, that it is intrinsic to our beings, it is just up to us to discover how to unveil this unattainable knowledge. How then to do it when this wisdom is so obviously unknowable? Well you can't get there from here.

On the same page as the first quote I used is a conversation between Confucius and his student Yan Hui:

"I'm gaining ground!" Yan Hui had announced on day.

"What do you mean?" asked Confucius.

"I've forgotten Humanity and Duty completely." Yah Hui replied

"Not bad!" admitted Confucius. "But that's still not it."

A few days later, Yah Hui exclaimed: "I've forgotten ritual and music completely."

"That's still not it." said Confucius.

But finally Yah Hui surprised his master. "I'm gaining ground!" he beamed. "I sit quietly and forget."

Confucius shifted uneasily. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"I let the body fall away and the intellect fade." Said Yah Hui. "I throw out form, abandon understanding – and then move freely, blending away into the great transformation. That's what I mean by sit quietly and forget."

Confucius went pale; his disciple had surpassed him.

"if you blend away like that, you're free of likes and dislikes," he said. "If you're all transformation, you're free of permanence. So in the end, the true sage here is you! So you won't mind if I follow you from now on, will you?"

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Thursday, November 01, 2007


"Verily, the soul has no birth, no death, no beginning, no end. Sin cannot touch it, nor can virtue exalt it; it has always been and always will be, and all else is its cover like a globe over the light."

Hazrat Inayat Khan

This past weekend the whole family drove down to Virginia. My wife, my step daughter, her two children and I all went together. I had been going to go by myself but we decided it would be a good thing to go as a family so the kids could see a bit of Wash DC. This was a secondary reason. The primary reason for going was to meet my brother and his wife and to scatter our mother's ashes in a park she loved.

My regular readers will remember that my mother died last May and I wrote about it on June 6. A few weeks after that a package arrived in the mail from the funeral home, it was a box containing her ashes. For the next few months this box sat on my desk. Occasionally I would look at it and wonder about my emotions. What did I feel? I wasn't sure. It was a little strange to have the remains of my mom sitting in a small box on my desk. I did not feel her presence. When I tuned into her it felt like her soul was gone, that it was no longer anywhere around the Earth. I was and am quite content to allow her to experience the totality of the soul's journey. Unlike many, I have no desire to inhibit her soul's path by incessantly calling her back. But there the box sat insisting on reminding me of a presence of some kind.

After all of these months it is still not clear to me just how I feel. We are constantly reminded by our culture that we feel loss or grief or psychic pain but I do not seem to feel any of these things. The act of scattering ashes seemed surreal to me. They came in a plastic bag which was inside of a plastic box apparently fabricated just for this purpose, to hold human remains. I suppose the box could have some other use but I threw it away directly after.

By now, six days later, I imagine there is no sign of the ashes at all. I imagine it has rained at least once down there so they would have been thoroughly absorbed into the landscape. Perhaps this is a good thing.

We give much credence to the personification of death. Our cultures are full of all sorts of myths about the significance of death. We say that death is a kind of punishment or that it is earned for doing some awful deed. We reserve the death penalty for what we say are the most serious crimes. We look upon death with dread. And yet it is the most natural of acts. We are capable of creating all sorts of different ways of seeing the universe and of existing within our world, whether because of economic circumstance or with our own efforts. But death comes to us all, every one of us. What happens after is pretty much open to speculation for most of us. The one thing we might agree on, though not all will agree, is that there is not enough life.

I have been reading about Socrates. I never really did before and I am coming to realize that I should have. He had a very simple point of view with an extremely complex way of getting people to understand his point of view. His simple point of view was, "I do not know." No matter what the subject, no matter what the attitude he would deconstruct it to the point where you would have to admit that you did not really know and that your surety about a thing was based on illusion. In one of the famous dialogues recorded by his student Plato, he walks two army generals through this. The subject was courage. At the end of this dialogue he has shown these two men, no strangers to battlefields, that they could not really define courage. Yet he would also admit that courage is a real thing. This is an attitude that any esoteric student will eventually find, not knowing. Perhaps the real key then is to continually challenge yourself and your knowledge to the point that you discover that not only is 'not knowing' quite real it is also the only true means of self discovery.

We tend to layer ourselves with knowledge. We know who we are, where we fit in the world, what our role is, etc. All of these things are valid of course and give us direction that we need in order to participate in our family and in our culture. They are however illusions, convenient illusions.

What then do we accomplish in the world if eventually it is all swept away into the wind as ashes?

I will be curious to read your answers.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Sunday, September 30, 2007


One day two small boys decided to play a trick on Mullah Nasruddin. With a tiny bird cupped in their hands they would ask him whether it was alive or dead. If he said it was alive they would crush it to show him he was wrong. If he said it was dead they would let it fly away and still fool him.

When they found the wise old man they said, Mullah Nasruddin, that which we are holding, is it alive or dead?

Mullah Nasruddin thought for a moment and replied, Ah, my young friends, that is in your hands!

Mullah Nasruddin, why do you always answer a question with another question?

Do I?

Occasionally, I noodle around on the internet just for the fun of it. Today I looked up Mullah Nasruddin and found the story above. Reading it I thought of one of my friends, one of the people I guide, who is constantly accusing me of never actually answering a question. She says that I always reply to a question of hers with another question. She has been saying this to me for years and I kind of laugh it off, but of course she is right.

The whole purpose of spiritual guidance is to aid the guidee in their self discovery. This usually involves getting them to question their assumptions. It would be very easy to just give my own version of reality and expect the student to accept. A lot of spiritual teachers are like this. And frankly most people love to simply be told.

I have observed otherwise very intelligent people regurgitating doctrine as if they truly understood what it meant. They spout the very thing they just heard from this teacher or that teacher stating it as if it were their own. This is spiritual laziness.

The real seeker is never satisfied with someone's proclamation. They have to know for themselves through their own experience and discovery. I much prefer to guide someone who demands that I explain myself and show them how to do it for themselves rather than someone who sits at my feet, rapt in adoration. *SHUDDER* I suppose that sort of attention would appeal to some but I find it pretty annoying. Not that it happens to me often – or at all for that matter.

Our Western, mostly secular, culture has some very strange ideas about spiritual guidance. There is a definite tendency to accept what we are told, regardless of whether or not it actually makes sense or has anything at all to do with our personal experience. Yes, there is the myth of independence within US culture but that is exactly what it is, a myth. If it were not so, McDonalds would not exist. It is probably a holdover from feudal times when the great mass of peasants had no education at all and believed what they were told by those with power over them. A case could probably be made that this is a world wide phenomena and that the very recent rise of world literacy is only the very beginning stage of actual independence of thought. But Eastern cultures also have a tradition of true spiritual independence, unlike Christianity and its mirror Islam, which insist on obedience to doctrine. Oh oh, I just said something critical there didn't I? Perhaps I will deal with that in another blog. In any case, we expect to obey even though we also have a deeper tendency to spiritual and intellectual freedom.

This tendency to obedience is prevalent throughout all the esoteric/spiritual groups that I am aware of, including the Sufi Order. I cannot tell you how often I have heard the phrase, "Pir Vilayat said………. whatever" and now it is "Pir Zia said………. whatever," used as a conclusive argument. I guess I needn't state how annoying I find this tendency.

One of the bits of training that a spiritual student is inevitably subject to is status or levels of awareness. While it is true that a person who meditates regularly will find aspects of creation that are hidden from most, this is not universally true. And it is certainly not true that such a person is any better at living than someone who has not discovered these aspects. Or as Pir Vilayat consistently said about finding one's guide, "You see yourself in another yourself who is better able to manifest that which you already are." In other words it is no different from putting yourself under the tutelage of an experienced mechanic if you want to learn to work on automobile engines. He knows more than you just because he has studied and has been doing it for years. It does not mean he is any better intrinsically, just more knowledgeable. What is really happening is you yourself are training your self. Guidance is really about helping you avoid some of the pitfalls that you may slip into.

As the Mullah said, it is in your hands.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, September 03, 2007


This is a continuation of my last blog about hypnosis. While I was at the conference, I decided that it would be a good idea to get some hypnosis myself. After all, I am asking people to trust me as a therapist but I had never had any kind of therapy myself. I really did need to know what it was like to go to a stranger and ask for help with something I found difficult. So, I started looking around at the conference for someone to work with who lived in NYC. I met one young woman who has an office in the City and got her card but I wasn't really happy with telling my story to someone so young. No offense to the young but I could not see how she could understand what I was talking about. No, I wanted someone my age. Then something magical happened.
I was sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for my wife to finish up at her workshop so we could start the drive home. A guy about my age sat down beside me and started to talk. It turned out that he was a construction type guy, just like me, so we fell into shop talk. At some point he said that he was not a hypnotist and was just here because his wife wanted him to come along. Bells went off in my head. "Where do you live?" I asked. "Brooklyn." So I told him that I had been looking for someone my age to work with and he just happened to have one of his wife's cards with him. Magical.
I did go to see her, twice, and found things inside of me that I had not suspected. But that is not what I wanted to talk about. All of this explanation is leading up to a discussion about past lives. As a part of my sessions with the hypnotist in Brooklyn I regressed through a couple of past lives, ostensible past lives, and did learn some things. What I learned made sense in the light of my current personality and some of my firmer traits. No, I am not going to tell you. What I will tell you is my ideas about past lives and wait to see what you think.
I will start with a basic precept or possibly an assumption - that ultimately we are all one soul. This assumption states that whatever we call a creative force, Universal Intelligence or your choice of Deity, initiated this universe out of nothingness, or out of its own fabric of existence. This would seem to say that we all come from a singular event. After that, things fragmented. Despite this fragmentation and apparent individuation of energies, the mystics and prophets and those who claim to understand these things keep telling us that we are all interconnected. I suspect there is truth in this assertion so I will use it as a foundation for this little essay. The second assumption or precept is that the soul is a reality. It is very easy to talk about souls but I wonder how many people have had a direct experience of their soul; very few I imagine. You take it in faith because others say it is so. Even though the evidence is elusive at best people want the idea of past lives to be real and will talk about who they believe they were with great enthusiasm and conviction. But is it real?
Here is what I have come to think (I am certainly willing to modify my position).
The one soul exists and has fragmented itself into a zillion parts in order to experience itself and to learn. As a singular being there was no possibility of learning so fragmentation was essential. Never-the-less, Unity also exists. In other words two distinct states of being are in play - Unity and Multiplicity. This is not new information to most who read my blog I am sure. Now let's look at how it works.
Here you are. Your soul has occupied a body on a planet. This body has mobility as well as reasoning power and all of the other attributes of being human. It also has fantasy or a need to grasp abstracts. And, it lives within an intense energy field created by all of the billions of other bodies and personalities that are not only extant in this moment but which have lived previously and perhaps are living in some elusive future. Yet we feel isolated and alone within all of this energy. It is one of the great paradoxes. When an individual decides to allow their soul to begin to reach outward instead of being shielded by the armor of culture and habit, things begin to happen. One of these things is an awareness of the vast pool of experience contained within this Universal Unconscious as Jung called it. So, you go into a deep meditation, or maybe work with a hypnotist and you touch one of these lives. Why take it personally? You are part of a flow of psychic energy that has been growing for millennia. I am coming to believe that we have the capacity to touch almost any soul or personality or attitude. What we seem to touch are those personalities or experiences that are most applicable to our individual journey. But it ain't necessarily just yours. So, instead of saying, "My past lives," try saying, "Life."
Does the soul have a contiguous existence bouncing from life to life? I have no idea. But something is going on which I suspect is much more complex then we might imagine.
I am very interested in commentary.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, August 20, 2007


I have just returned from a conference. It was fantastic, as it always is. What, what, you ask? It was the annual convention of the National Guild of Hypnotists.

I do not think that I have ever mentioned here that both Majida and I are certified hypnotists. Some years ago we took a very complete course in hypnosis, passed the tests and were certified by the Guild. We also get CEU's every year to maintain our certification.

I am not going to try to explain hypnosis here. I will say that it is an extremely effective healing modality and that I have witnessed real healings, both physical and psychological. Hypnosis is also very technical and requires some serious study. And no, I have never made anyone cluck like a chicken, what a silly idea, and a waste of my time. The whole purpose in learning hypnosis was to be more effective as healers and that has proved to be the case.

What I wanted to talk about is a new technique being developed by a well known hypnotist, Gerald Kein. We have taken several workshops with him over the years and have found him to be a great teacher. He is developing something called Ultra Height which we are learning. In hypnosis the idea usually is to go very deep into the sub-conscious and finally, if it is possible for the client, into the unconscious, in order to effect change. There are different stages a client goes through reaching these states, all of which can be tested for. What Gerald Kein has been doing is using the very deepest state as a launching pad to go in the other direction. What he does is instruct the body to stay in this extremely relaxed state while he encourages the mind to rise up into the heights of consciousness. He helps the client leave the body and even the mind, with all its assumptions and cares, behind and enter into a place of pure light. Those of you with some experience will recognize this state as Samadhi or Satori. But instead of spending eight or ten days on a retreat attaining this state, the hypnotist can take you there in about half an hour. Since you are guided there rather than doing it on your own, the hypnotist can make suggestions to help you find your issues and correct them. What is truly interesting about this state is that you do it yourself. When a hypnotist takes a person deep into the unconscious he has to do all the guiding and talking, making suggestions to the unconscious mind that help it effect the wanted changes. In this Ultra Height state, the super conscious decides. Apparently it not only knows the problem it also knows the solution. This is quite different from the normal hypnosis session and is going to prove to be a total revolution in technique. Or so it seems right now. But there is a catch.

According to Mr. Kein there is a requirement. He says that it only works for people who are brave enough to let go entirely and allow their higher mind to take over. This is exactly what Pir Vilayat used to say. That you must have the courage to be who you really are and that the only way to do it was to push through your fears. I suspect that Pir Vilayat would be really excited about this technique. I admit that I am still learning this technique and have yet to really get into it but I have found that when I follow Mr. Kein's instructions exactly, they always work well.

I think that the reason I wanted to talk about this new technique, besides my personal excitement about it, is that it is important for spiritual type people to be aware of all of the wonderful techniques that are being discovered in this age but which do not necessarily have a label acceptable to the spiritual community. Honestly, I almost never tell Sufi's that I am a certified hypnotist. I will tell anyone else but not Sufi's, except for my own mureeds. I believe it is because people who have invested a lot of energy into learning meditation tend to refuse to believe that there are other ways unless they are very subtle such as energy healing. And of course they also tend to view hypnosis, or other fairly conventional healing modalities, as not cool enough. At least that is my experience. I am totally willing to be proved wrong.

I would encourage anyone who feels they have an unsolvable issue to find a certified hypnotist and see if that cannot help.

Certification in North America is from the National Guild of Hypnotists –

They have a list of all certified hypnotists in North America. I don't know about Europe.

Gerald Kein's link -

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Friday, July 13, 2007


"In order to acquire spiritual knowledge, in order to receive inspiration, in order to prepare one's heart for the inner revelation, one must try to make one's mentality pliable, like water rather than like a rock."

Hazrat Inayat Khan

"If you happen to receive Divine Inspiration don't be proud of it for it comes to you by permission of God. When you have access to a certain spiritual stage never say that it is sufficient because there are countless other stages still to cover. As Muhiddin al-Arabi says, "Any end is only a stage towards Unity""

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

I thought I would try an experiment. I am posting the two sayings above about inspiration and asking my readers to comment on what they mean to them. Or you might give your own thoughts on Inspiration. I often do this in classes I lead. I will pose a question and then sit back and see what happens. One of the things that I always point out when doing this is there is no need to feel that you must be profound or extraordinarily meaningful. Just say what comes into your heart. It is a fear that most of us have; we fear that we are not clever enough to say something that will be important. We all have our story and we all have our particular point of view. So, what's your inspiration?

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, July 02, 2007


"The greatest thing that can happen to a human being is to become conscious of the magnificence of the meaningfulness of life." Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

Isn't that a wonderful statement? I could add, to become conscious of one's own magnificence! Imagine what it is like to suddenly discover that not only does life have true meaning but so do you!

One of the things that I find myself saying over and over to people is that the first step in becoming who you really are is recognizing that you just may be magnificent, glorious, wonderful and exquisite. The response I usually get when I say things like this is denial. "You can't possibly be talking about me – can you?" Well yes, I am talking about you. Isn't it interesting that the finest aspect of God's creation, the final result of manifestation, the being that, according to all scriptures, was given dominion over all of creation, normally sees itself as unworthy of its own magnificence? Wow!

Let's take it slow. There is no need to shift from unworthy to magnificent in one easy step. You can work up to magnificent.

I guess we all have some feeling of unworthiness at some point. I am convinced that it is the heritage of Judeo/Christian guilt that we constantly struggle with. I can clearly remember learning of the doctrine of original sin when I was very young, four or five, and wondering how it could be. After all I was just a little kid, I hadn't done anything terribly bad, except maybe defy my mother and steal a cookie or two and here I was being told that I was born a sinner. Wow! Another wow. What a trip to lay on a little kid. Not only was I a sinner I was also headed for hell if I did not toe the line. And, as you grow, you begin to discover that you are never ever going to measure up to the standard that is set for you. This is the typical cultural message which is seen in various forms all over the world but most especially in the West.

I have often wondered just how it was that the Europeans decided on this particular interpretation of the Bible. There must have been some kind of cultural imperative that said that unworthiness is the standard and rising out of unworthiness is only possible through sacrifice of the self to a higher authority – priests. That whole grim interpretation which ignores the message of Love brought by Jesus and assumes that the world is essentially evil has warped our reality. Now it is up to us to bring it back to where it ought to be.

I was reading an old book of Pir Vilayat's, "The Call of the Dervish." In it he says a very interesting thing. He says that, "We can only really know God by loving – and that is a very painful path, because it doesn't seem to be reciprocated: we go from abandonment to abandonment – and even through betrayal." He goes on to say, "You can only manifest the divine Being by involving yourself in the trauma of divine love."

Imagine - the trauma of divine love! I suppose the first step here would be to learn to love yourself unconditionally – despite your inclination to sin uncontrollably. Can you do that? It is definitely traumatic to think of yourself as consistently lovable despite your many flaws. Now, take that idea and turn it on its head. Imagine God examining His body, noticing the incredible number of flaws yet still loving unconditionally. That is the trauma that Pir Vilayat speaks of.

Your inclination may be to look outward to express this ideal of divine love, to look to your significant other – if you have one – or your children or friends or family or even a pop star. It is a whole lot easier to look to someone else, to idealize them and declare your love then it is to love all that you are personally. That's okay I suppose but I think that turning within is really the key here.

If you can do this for even a moment, then it is quite possible to extend this emotion of internal acceptance to the discovery of the absolute magnificence of life itself. This is where the potential of deep meditation becomes so very essential. As Pir Vilayat would say, one is catapulted into a state of glorification. Notice the word catapulted. It is not by an effort of the intellect or even of the will, it happens just because it happens. It's your turn, it's your time and all the effort that you put into your meditations bears fruit in the most unexpected way.

So often I am confronted with someone saying to me that what they are observing of the world makes no sense, how can all of these horrible things be happening in a Universe of unconditional love? It is so much easier to feel sorrow, pity, maybe some anger and finally self pity or despair because there is nothing to be done and we are trapped in an insanity not of our making. Yup, all true, that is a way to look at it. But remember that ideal – the trauma of divine love. If you can tap into that, even for a moment, everything that you know to be true suddenly is useless and the experience of reality becomes completely altered. Magnificent meaningfulness then becomes real.

I invite your comments.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I read the following quote in a book I am reading and wanted to share it with you. It is from a chapter in the book titled "How Sufi's account for their being called Sufi's"

Yusuf ibn al-Husayn tells us that he asked Dhu'l-Nun: "With whom shall I associate?" He answered: "With him who possesses nothing, and does not disapprove of any state thou happenest to be in; who does no change when thou changest, even though that change be great: for the more violently thou changest, the greater is thy need of him."

(The Doctrine of the Sufis – Abu Bakr al-Kalabadhi – trans. Arther Johan Arberry
Kitab Bhavan,
New Delhi, India 2000 from page7)

One of the things that we strive for when treading the spiritual path is unconditional acceptance of the state of the person before us. But, Oh man is that hard. What the author of this piece, which was written around 960 CE, is pointing out is who a person should seek as a guide and with whom such a seeker should associate. One can assume that, in finding such a person, the people around him/her will be in various stages of understanding unconditional acceptance. They will therefore provide support for the one who is struggling to understand; which is the whole point. I am tempted to think that we have an intrinsic emotion that urges us to seek out such people. The knowledge may be intrinsic but if you think about it, it is obvious that there is also fear and a tendency to reject such people as unworldly, or strange, or damaging to our culture, etc. It is the reason that prophets almost always come to a bad end. The problem is that such people do not see the universe in the same way that the rest of us see it. This is a good thing since hanging with such people will expand our point of view. It is also challenging since hanging with such people will question our point of view. Not that such people will confront you deliberately but you cannot help but notice that your personal point of view is askew from theirs. At this stage a couple of things will happen. One, obviously, is admiration or even deep devotion to the one who is the exemplar of that which you desire to understand and perhaps become a bit of yourself. Another is resentment which can come out in all sorts of ways. Another is fear which I already mentioned.

There is a really interesting aspect to this fear that has intrigued me ever since I figured it out; it is the fear of change. I first noticed this phenomenon in myself not long after I joined the Sufi Order. I realized that there was a part of my personality that was seriously resisting the normal progression of spirituality in my being because it was terrified of having to change the personality. I was afraid because I had no references for how my personality should be if I were to suddenly become somehow more spiritual or something. How do you act when everything, all of your ideas about how the world works, suddenly changes? I think that one of the current difficulties in what we call the New Age movement, which subscribes to much of what Eastern spirituality has to teach, is that - when we are confused over just how to act - we tend to pretend. In a simple world, one without mass communication, no phones, etc., there is ample room for the inner work and for repose and, one assumes, for communing with nature. Our world is not simple, it is far from simple. Yet I notice that there is a kind of imperative that insists that simplicity should rule. In fact, I suspect that in that a simpler universe that we assume existed, things were just as complex though they may have been quite a bit slower. Humans seem to have a talent for making things complex, no matter what the condition is.

It is possible to imagine what it might be like to be that person who is possession-less and is endlessly tolerant of every person that appears before him. What is their inner life like? Can you emulate their calm accepting demeanor? Can you imagine yourself with such attributes? If you have such attributes how will it change you? Being in the presence of people who can do all of this can be a great blessing or at least it can give you hints as to how you might become who you really are.

"That purpose is accomplished when a person has risen above all these things. It is that person then, who will tolerate all, who will understand all, who will assimilate all things, who will not feel disturbed by things which are not in accordance with his own nature or the way which is not his way. He will not look at them with contempt, but he will see that in the depth of every being there is a divine spark which is trying to raise its flame toward the purpose." Hazrat Inayat Khan

One of the people I guide once said something to me that really struck me as quite profound. She told me that she had been puzzling over this guide business. She had been trying to figure just what it meant to have a guide and she told me she had finally figured it out. She said that the guide holds the being of the student in trust until the student can manifest it themselves: which is a pretty good retelling of that 1100 year old statement above.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Saturday, June 09, 2007


"Dreams and inspirations are open proofs of the higher world."

Hazrat Inayat Khan

I had a memory the other day that I would like to share.

A few years ago, on a nice summer's day, Majida and I decided to take a drive. We headed for the other side of the Hudson, to Nyack, NY, to look in the little shops over there. As we were crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge I noticed a bright red Ferrari in front of us. I have always been an admirer of sports cars and nothing says sports car like a Ferrari. So I was kind of paying attention to it as we drew closer and I paid more attention as I began to realize that there was something odd about the car. Ferrari lines are very distinctive and I suspect that every one who drives, while they might not instantly recognize the mark will still realize they are seeing a rare automobile. You know how when you are looking at something familiar you expect it to look a certain way and when it does not your mind will still insist that it does until the rational mind steps in and identifies the differences? Well that is what my mind was doing. I knew something was off but couldn't really see what it was. Then it resolved.

The top was down on the Ferrari, it being a beautiful summer's day and the driver looked to be a slightly over weight young man. What was wrong was that the right side mirror was turned fully in on its springs and the young man was, every so often, glancing over at the mirror to watch himself driving a Ferrari. What an image. I instantly made up a story for the young man. He had been asked to deliver this car to someone and was taking advantage of the opportunity to admire himself driving a car that he never would be able to afford. This is the story that I instantly made up in my mind. I have no idea if it is true. For all I know the right side mirror was defective in some way and he was glancing at it every so often to reassure himself that it had not fallen off. Or perhaps, like me, he had the habit of constantly sweeping his mirrors with his eyes and kept looking over out of habit. But I like the idea that he was admiring himself.

One of the things that I find myself constantly saying to people I guide is that it is important that they admit to who they are. We have this idea in our culture – the Judeo-Christian Ideal of humility that says that we are never to think of ourselves as special. I can clearly remember my mother saying that she/he is above him/herself, meaning that they were being prideful. We all have gotten this message in some fashion. Some of us have decided that we will ignore the imperative and go ahead and be special. There are any number of seminars and self help workshops that a person can attend that encourage a person to be special. There are people who make a very good living encouraging others to acknowledge their specialness. Still, I suspect that most folks who attend these seminars and become very enthusiastic for a moment or two, even for a weekend eventually find themselves struggling with the same sense of unworthiness that they had before they went to the seminar. However, their very willingness to go to the seminar or buy the books says something very important.

I am going to go ahead and assume that anyone reading my blog regularly will have some kind of idea about a creative force in the Universe, something which I have come to call Divine Intent. Given that position we could extrapolate that we are each a unique aspect of Divine Intent. So why would you feel unworthy?

Our young man in the Ferrari was definitely seeing himself as special, even if only for a moment. The human spirit has this deep desire to know itself as glorious yet we have imposed rules on ourselves that say we are not to do so. So we get confused. And then we have all the information that we absorbed early in our lives from our family and our culture. What to do, what to do?

My teacher Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan had a saying that I am very fond of quoting, "You have been invited to the banquet, why are you eating the scraps under the table?" It is a truly amazing aspect of this Divine Intent that there is a very large portion of creation that simply refuses to believe that it has the right to acknowledge itself as other than unworthy. One could even make an argument that the most violent sections of our world, the fanatics, are really expressing their grave doubts in the most destructive manner possible, like three year old children acting out their disappointment at not being given the candy they think they should have. It is a strange paradox of emotional destructiveness taken to the nth degree. I hurt; therefore, I will hurt you. And all the while the banquet sits there waiting and the beings that are partaking of it are patiently waiting for you to realize that you too belong at the feasting table.

So you can gaze into the mirror of the Ferrari or purchase the latest pair of designer jeans or any of the myriad things that our world provides to help you over come your feelings of unworthiness – or you can accept that you are the magnificent being that you are and set about learning how to manifest that which you already are.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I was going to write more about tradition in my next blog but something has come up that sets that subject aside for a bit.

On Saturday May 19th, at around 11 AM, my mother died. I guess for someone my age, 62, this is not that unusual an event and I was not that surprised but still it is strange. At the beginning of that week I had talked to her on the phone, she lived around 5 ½ hours from me and she asked my advice about going to the hospital. She was having trouble breathing and was almost immobile, having even more trouble moving about. I agreed that she needed to go to the hospital and called her friend to make sure that was going to happen. Two days later I drove up to see her. I also wanted to talk to her Dr. about what was really taking place and to speak to a social worker about the possibility of moving her to a facility closer to me. I had these visions of taking her great grand children to visit her in a nursing home, thereby cheering her up. There is nothing like a bouncy four year old girl to cheer someone up. I thought many things during the three days I was up there, in Watertown, NY. Another thought that kept creeping into my mind was what I would do if she died on the way while I was driving her to the hypothetical nursing home close to me. It was not a thought that I wanted to have but it kept slipping in.

She was very uncomfortable. She had been struggling with myasthenia gravis for many years and the disease was advancing in her body. In case you do not know, myasthenia gravis is a disease that creates anti-bodies that interfere with the signals that nerves give to muscles. Because of this disease she was now unable to swallow, her throat muscles were not getting the signal to contract. The hospital inserted a tube directly into her stomach, called a Peg of all things, in order to get nutrition into her.

I stayed in her little apartment and went several times a day to visit her. Whenever I visited I would find her sitting in a chair beside her hospital bed. So far as I know the staff left her there as moving was also very uncomfortable for her. She looked so much like she was sitting there waiting.

We did not have much to talk about. It was odd really. Here I am a spiritual teacher of sorts and I cannot talk to my mother about death. I really have no idea what her thoughts were during these last days. I suspect she was aware that the sand was running out but she did not make any reference to death and I did not feel it was my place to bring it up if she did not want to. So I bought her a large print bible. She really liked that and hugged it to her chest. I do not think that she actually opened it but she did hold it as a kind of talisman.

Almost the last thing she said to me was, "I want to go home," meaning her apartment but I sensed a sub-text as well. She was tired and wanted it all to end.

On Friday of that week, I drove back home. On Saturday her friend called me to tell me she had died. Apparently the hospital staff was taking her to X-Ray to check on the location of the Peg. She was chatting with the technicians when she just stopped.

I cannot say that I have been close to my mother. There was never much overt affection in our small family and over the years I kept my distance for many reasons. Still I did call her occasionally and visited her when I could. Every few months I would drive up to see her, listen to her discussion of her various neighbors many faults, and drive back home. I knew she was increasingly uncomfortable in her body and kind of knew that the moment of separation from physicality was approaching. But the reality is very strange.

I would like to write something deep and philosophical at this point but nothing really comes to mind. So much has been written about death that I doubt there is anything that I can add It is the natural order of things and something in us knows that it is okay. It is obvious I suppose. For me it is okay.

The day after she died my wife and I drove back up to Watertown to sort through her things and make the various arrangements necessary. Most of her furniture we gave away, keeping just a few small things. I think I was in some kind of numb state so Majida more or less took over and made sure things were done. I did what I was told to do. People would say, go here, do this, go there, do that and I would do as I was bid. And everything got done.

And now? Now I feel normal I guess. As I said, it is strange knowing that she no longer inhabits a body here on Earth. I did get a sense of her right after she left. I had this fleeting vision of her in her 40 year old body feeling quite happy. I liked that.

Love and Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I have been reading Karen Armstrong's new religious history, "The Great Transformation." I love her books and have read them all. This newest book fills a gap in the history books as it is an explanation of what is called The Axial Age. The Axial Age is a peculiar stage in human history, from approximately 800 BCE to 200 BCE, when the major regions of the civilized world; Greece, China, India and the Mesopotamian Basin all shifted how they approached religion. It was an age when numerous prophets suddenly appeared in all four regions and began to talk of the inner world. It is a great book. But it is not what I wanted to talk of other then as a starting point.

As I read the book I cannot help but reflect on what I see happening around me. One of the things that I hear frequently is the need for a return to tradition. That puzzles me. I wonder what tradition they mean. How far back should we go? Humans are funny, funny peculiar that is – not funny ha ha, about tradition. A tradition needs to be only a week or so old and we will assume it has permanence. A tradition that is a hundred years old seems hoary with meaning and one a thousand years old, no matter how much it may have been modified in the intervening years, well that is awesome. It never ceases to amaze me that, just because someone a thousand years ago wrote something, it must be full of inner meaning that we today cannot possibly totally understand but we know it is significant. What if it was just stupid? There are a couple of these ancient tomes that I have read that are just that – stupid. Yet they are revered texts. Oh well.

As I read the book and learn how our solid traditions evolved I wonder why we think they have value. As Ms. Armstrong explains so well, but which any thinking person should already realize, traditions are cultural responses to changing conditions and values. They are the way that a culture defines itself in that moment. In and of themselves they mean nothing other than as a cultural response.

One of the things that I really liked about my teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, and his teachings was that, though he would use historical references and an extensive knowledge of the ancient Sufi's, he always insisted that what he was about was the creation of a new paradigm. He continually stated that we are the mid-wives of the Holistic Age (his word for what we usually call the New Age). I would think that means that we are obligated to stretch ourselves out and discover what has not been yet done.

Now I hear that we should return to tradition.

As a Sufi I feel that it is my job to not only know what has been done in the past but also to respond to the future energy pulling us forward. Anything else is turning ones back on the future, embracing the past and creating a comfortable cocoon which protects us but has no value to evolution. But it is scary; after all the future is essentially unknown. Oh, you might get some precognition I suppose. Lots of people do but the wholeness of it is unknown since, in the real world sense, it has not happened.

I think that a lot of people do sense something unfolding and are trying in various ways to make it clear. That happens in all sorts of ways; from nostalgic yearnings for Lemuria to crop circle divination to whatever seems neatest to the individual. It is difficult to just let the future unfold. Since it has not happened yet, though the potential is there, we do have options. We can pretend we know what it is. We can retreat to a traditional model that ignores this new energy and reassures itself that all is well. We can notice the small indications that are appearing in the remote depths of our consciousness and be glad. We can be scared. Oh there are all sorts of things that we can do.

I suppose that a part of this advice to return to tradition might be to get people to actually read some of the old material. Another thing that never ceases to amaze me is people believing that the individual they believe is responsible for their current state sprang full blown from the brow of Zeus or something similar without having done any study of his own. For instance, there is a cult of personality for Hazrat Inayat Khan. Some otherwise very intelligent people seem to believe that what he spoke about was all his. It never seems to occur to them that most of what he taught was a restating of normal Sufi thought made palatable for the Western ear. He took out most of the cultural references from the Middle East and India and substituted European and American cultural references. Anyone who has done any reading of the ancient's will realize this. That he was brilliant is a given but let's not go too far. So maybe it would be good to get people to read some of the ancient material and figure this out for themselves.

I am now very curious to hear what others might feel about what I have written above. I am still in a state of speculation about this and am just beginning to form my ideas. Any contributions? More to come!

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Saturday, May 05, 2007


(Part 2)

I was walking through Manhattan the other evening on my way to meet Majida for a light supper before going to the theater. It was early evening, there was still quite a bit of daylight and it was a pleasant walk. Since it was mid week there were a lot of people on the street heading home from their jobs. They all had the look that commuters over the world have, determination, annoyance, focus and the stare that says they are already thinking about dinner. It was a perfect Spring day so the look was softened somewhat, though not a lot. I was walking along, avoiding the rushing hordes, feeling the cool fresh air when a memory came stealing into my consciousness. At first it was a feeling with no event attached – a sense of satisfaction or possibly elation – a feeling of being young again. I walked between the soaring buildings, barely noticing the street life, before I remembered the source.

I was raised in Minnesota, on a lake a few miles outside of Minneapolis. I just looked at a Google Earth image of Medicine Lake and it is just a bit more built up than when I lived there. In fact I doubt I would recognize anything. In any case, as everyone knows, Minnesota is known for its winters. Winter is great for a kid. You play outside all day, come home to the pain of thawing fingers and toes and go out the next day for the same thing. Spring is a different thing. The air is full of promise, the deep snow is melting, the ice on the lake starts breaking up and the mud comes – lots and lots of mud. Any rural denizens of northern states or Canada know all about spring thaw mud. But finally the day comes when the mud is more or less over and a magical thing happens, you get to take your bicycle out for the very first time in months. This was the memory that flowed through me as I walked through Mid-town Manhattan. It was the smell of freedom.

For a 12 year old boy freedom is simple. The first bicycle ride after a long Minnesota winter does nicely. As a person matures freedom becomes more elusive. We accumulate responsibilities and attitudes and assumptions and firm ideas about who we are and freedom seems remote or, at best, a philosophical condition not very related to real life. But for a 12 year old boy, or girl, none of that is real, freedom is very basic. It is the wind in your hair and the sheer joy of flying down the road on your bicycle.

This memory of freedom, so simple and pure, flowed through me with all the gentleness of a feather lightly drifting down to alight in the palm of my hand. I was charmed. And I realized that this too was part of my life's texture.

As the quote from Hazrat Inayat Khan in the last blog says: "The journey one takes in the inner life is as long as the distance between the beginning of life and death, it being the longest journey one ever takes throughout life; and one must have everything prepared, so that after reaching a certain distance one may not have to turn back."

Some preparations are quite natural – this perfect sense of joy and freedom that a child experiences is certainly one. Remembering these states is another. Most of the preparations really are just this simple – balancing your breath, noticing beauty, focusing your mind, ignoring the tape loops of worry and resentment. As adults we tend to create extreme complications for ourselves due to the above mentioned accumulated responsibilities but really it is very simple. If you constantly practice remembering these pure emotions that you very naturally experienced as a child then you are doing the necessary preparation. I am constantly reminded of Christ's dictum to be as a little child. I have come to believe that he was very serious. My teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, was probably one of the most intelligent people I have ever met yet he was quite capable of extreme childlike delight. You hear the very same thing of the Dalai Lama and other beings at that level of spiritual responsibility. I suspect this attitude comes from acceptance of life's texture as well as discipline and meditative skill.

As I write this I am listening to the Woodstock album and Richie Havens is singing about Freedom. We want it, we know it exists in some form, we remember from our childhood as I did and, as we go deep into the Inner Life, we can sometimes remember the freedom of our eternal souls.

So, look around, see what is eternal in your existence and enjoy the rest.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


(Part 1)

"The inner life is a journey, and before starting to take it there is a certain preparation necessary. If one is not prepared, there is always the risk of having to return before one has arrived at one's destination. When a person goes on a journey, and when he has to accomplish something, he must know what is necessary on the path and what he must take with him, in order that his journey may become easy and that he may accomplish what he has started to accomplish. The journey one takes in the inner life is as long as the distance between the beginning of life and death, it being the longest journey one ever takes throughout life; and one must have everything prepared, so that after reaching a certain distance one may not have to turn back." Hazrat Inayat Khan

One of the things that a spiritual guide hears frequently is how awful the people they guide think they are. When a person begins to do spiritual work or even when a person begins to get serious about introspection, their mistakes will come up. We all have sinned in one way or another. By sin I mean we have all done something that harms another. We may not want to admit it but our subconscious knows we have some things in our past that we are not proud of or happy about. On the other end is the victim, the person who knows they have been abused by people more powerful than they are for their whole life. So we have sinners and victims and often a combination of the two. And then something happens and the Inner Life beckons.

What happens when the Inner Life beckons isn't nearly as important as the impact that it has on your assumptions about yourself. What the above quote says is that a certain preparation is necessary; I kind of laugh at that part. How can you know? It's like preparing to drive when you have never seen an automobile. What you can do, however; is see the life before the 'what' appeared for what it is. This is your texture.

All of the experiences that go into making our life what it is become our texture. All of it is us. When we discover our Inner Life, assumptions tend to arise that things will suddenly be peaceful, wonderful, sin free. Upon reflection, we will realize that nothing really changes; in fact, now that you have discovered an extra dimension to living, things suddenly seem even more complex. As I mention in my book, it is not unusual for a person who has recently embarked on a spiritual discipline to suddenly realize that they are the world's worst jerk. This person will begin to see all of the flaws in their being and nothing at all seems nice or right or even remotely possible for them because of their many many imperfections. On the other side wonderful things are also happening. There may be realizations about the nature of the Universe, or understandings about the beauty of everyday life. All sorts of things suddenly become clear. One of the things that certainly should become clear is the amount of work to come. Strangely enough this is almost never the case.

It has been my observation that people get a tiny taste of alternative reality and suddenly feel that they understand all of it. I suppose this is normal enough human nature. It seems that we really need to know that we know. That's okay; the kicker is that we also have these flaws that keep creeping into our consciousness. At least they should if we are paying any attention at all. What to do?

I used to try to fix people. I used to try to show them how to stop being flawed. I finally came to my senses and realized that was not very intelligent of me. Flaws are only flaws when you think they are. If you do something when you are 20 that you would not do when you are 40, it does not mean that the 20 year old was wrong. In the 20 year olds world what he did was perfectly normal. You do the best you can with the information you have at the time. And experience slowly teaches you that maybe there are alternatives. Continually going back to the 20 year old with pain and regret is, however; a losing proposition. It's just your texture, it isn't you.

It is a basic of humanity that we learn through our mistakes not our successes. So perhaps our greatest mistakes are those that lead us to examine our truth and thereby discover the Inner Life. Isn't it interesting that it is apparent failure that does this and not wondrous success?

Next blog we can talk about the journey and the accomplishments one may have along the way.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


Sunday, April 15, 2007


I was never very good at friendship: or at least I thought I was poor at it. I was thinking about it the other day and realized that it is hard to admit but I had to train myself to be friendly. It is a strange thing to realize. I still feel uncomfortable in party type situations – I never know just what to say - never know just what to do. I seem to always be afraid of saying or doing something stupid and have always admired the sort of person who is comfortable in group/party situations – admired and hated of course.

It is a mystery – a life long mystery. If you are trying to understand just what it is that you need to learn or to do while at the same time feeling paralyzed, you are certainly in a pickle. I never was good at snappy comebacks or being clever in a crowd. I suppose it came from feeling unworthy. But it does not matter so much where it came from as it does what to do with the information.

When you feel uncomfortable but do not know you are uncomfortable, that is a terrible stress on the psyche. When you feel uncomfortable and know you are uncomfortable, that is slightly better.

So, what does the above have to do with friendship? The older I get and the longer I am involved with Sufism the more I realize how precious friendship is.

"When, in friendship, a thought arises, 'I will love you as you love me', or, 'I will do to you as you do to me', this takes away all the virtue of the friendship, because it is a commercial attitude, prevalent everywhere in the commercial world: everything is done for a return, and measure is given for measure. Friendship should be the contrary pole to the practical side of life; for when a person is tired by the selfish surroundings of the world he feels inclined to take refuge in the love and kindness of a sympathetic friend. But if there is a question of selfishness in friendship, where can a soul go who is tired and annoyed with the selfish surroundings of the world?"

"Friendship as the average person understands it is perhaps little more than acquaintance; but in reality it is more sacred than any other connection in the world. To a sincere person, entering into friendship is like entering the gates of heaven; and a visit to his friend is a pilgrimage to a true loving friend."

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Realizing all of the above gave me a clue as to why I was always so uncomfortable in group situations. Most group situations are just like the above, entertain me and I will entertain you – as long as it is within this secret set of rules that only the specific group understands. But it always makes me uncomfortable because I can sense the insincerity. Then I realized that it wasn't insincerity per se, it is more of a situation in which I really did not belong. The conditions were fine for the people involved but not for me. That was a difficult thing to realize.

It seems to be axiomatic that the deeper you go into the inner being the less company you have. If your inclination is deep to begin with, which you cannot help, then you will constantly find yourself at odds with the culture around you. Some of us learn to adapt, many do not. On the other hand, when you are graced with a true friendship, as described above, all of the experiences of the past seem remote and unimportant. I am so graced.

I am married, as many of you know, and that is a particular form of friendship. But that is not the friendship that I speak of. No, there is another, of just the type that Pir O Murshid speaks of. It was a surprise when it appeared and continues to be a blessing. Suddenly I understood what all of the literature referring to friendship was really about.

So it is real – friendship is real.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Saturday, April 07, 2007


According to Pir O Murshid Inayat Khan there are five things necessary in the attainment of a spiritual life. You can see the whole list here

I would like to concentrate on one part – morality.

"The fifth necessity in the spiritual path is the loving of the everyday life. There are no strict morals which a spiritual guide enforces upon a person, for that work has been given to the outward religions. It is to the exoteric side of spiritual work that the outer morals belong, but the essence of morals is practiced by those treading the spiritual path. Their first moral principle is constantly to avoid hurting the feeling of another. The second principle is to avoid allowing themselves to be affected by the constantly jarring influences which every soul has to meet in life. The third principle is to keep their balance under all different situations and conditions which upset this tranquil state of mind. The fourth principle is to love unceasingly all those who deserve love, and to give to the undeserving their forgiveness; and this is continually practiced by them. The fifth principle is detachment amidst the crowd; but by detachment I do not mean separation. By detachment is only meant rising above those bondages which bind man and keep him back from his journey towards the goal. " Hazrat Inayat Khan

I just happened to think that mystics are fond of making lists. When you read Pir O Murshid's works for instance you find all kinds of lists – the five most important things – the three things you need – and so on. I guess that was the way he tended to speak. Most of what you read in his works is really transcriptions of lectures he gave. So, I suppose, in the moment, lists were helpful as a way of making a point.

Okay, ask yourself what myth you follow. We all have a myth that we believe is reality. It isn't but we convince ourselves that it is. Then, as spiritual maturity begins to arrive, we are confronted with the myth that we accepted in order to get to this place but which no longer can support us. It can be pretty distressing when our myth fails us. That is what I suspect may be happening.

The above quote from Pir O Murshid can be seen in a couple of ways. I have noticed that often people will read such things, take them to heart and assume that they not only understand but they also have deeply absorbed and follow all of the suggestions outlined. At the other end of things are the people who read these suggestions and feel totally intimidated. Both have a myth about themselves and the world around them.

Probably the reality of what Pir O Murshid is saying lies in the constant examination of one's point of view. It will occasionally happen that a person will discover that they are actually comfortable in the chaos of everyday life. They will find that nothing rattles them and the demands of the selfish people all around them are simple annoyances to be tolerated with good cheer. It can happen that you suddenly notice you have found this place of calm detachment quite innocently. To assume this state is a bit like saying you are a fantastic lover without ever having been with anyone. If it isn't natural, it isn't.

On the other hand it is important to notice where you fall short of the outlined ideal. Not to beat yourself up over your failings but just to notice. Noticing is the first step in discovering the aspects of your being that truly do understand friendship and detachment. It is all there inside of you and only needs a bit of work to unveil itself.

Love and Blessings, Musawwir