Thursday, January 11, 2007

Results vs. Process

"No one can deny the fact that life in the world is one continual struggle. The one who does not know the struggle of life is either an immature soul, or a soul who has risen above the life of this world. The object of a human being in this world is to attain to the perfection of humanity, and therefore it is necessary that man should go through what we call the struggle of life." Hazrat Inayat Khan

Wouldn't it be nice if our lives had the musical cues that television dramas and movies have? You hear the ominous music and instantly know that you should not go into that room because there is a slasher in there. Or that gooey music plays and you know you are about to have a really cool love affair. Wouldn't it be great to have indicative background music that saves you all the trouble that life can bring? All you would have to do is listen for the music to know what the moment meant. That would be so much easier. You always know when watching a TV program exactly what is going on from the music. Gosh, I want some background music in my life.

On the other hand, the characters in the dramas never seem to listen to the music so maybe it wouldn't work.

I have been thinking a lot lately about results vs. process. As was noted in my last blog - friendship is the most important aspect of being a spiritual person. And that is process not result. A result is when you put an engine back together and it runs. Process is learning how to do it and getting better and better at it.

Once you learn to listen to the still small voice within, which does take some concentration, you actually do begin to hear the music of life.

I am very curious to know if those who read this blog have similar thoughts or feel much different. If you have ideas about results vs. process I would like to hear.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Thursday, January 04, 2007


About ten years before he died, I was driving my teacher, Pir Vilayat, to the airport when he said something startling to me. We were just chatting about something or other when he suddenly turned to me and said, "I am 75 years old and am just now understanding what a Sufi is." I did not quite know what to say to this startling statement so I mumbled something in agreement and drove on. But the statement stayed with me.

I have used the statement numerous times in classes to illustrate the fact that there is no ending to doing the inner work. The more I think about it though the more I would like to go a bit further.

My best friend, besides my wife, lives in Vienna Austria. She feels that what we do, living our lives, is always about the process, never about results. Since Western culture believes itself to be very result oriented, this is a somewhat unique point of view, one I share by the way. The other day we had a long car ride together and spent a good amount of the time talking about this very point. My friend has an analogy that I like very much. She says that life is one long dream, from one end to the other. She says that what we do within the dream determines what our essence will be when the dream ends and we move into the next phase of manifestation, whatever that turns out to be.

In Sufism, this essence, what Pir Vilayat called the quintessence, of our beings is called Qayoom, pronounced kai-youm. It is generally translated as Eternity but we use it to identify that essential kernel that lives beyond the death of a particular body. It is this energy that enhances the soul and which finally provides the one being with the information it needs to understand itself and its creation. It is not however a result. It is the accumulation of experience that we have while vying for results.

Just my saying this does not make it so of course. I could say that understanding this principle is a realization outside of the rational mental process but that would be putting me above all my readers and I do not like to do that. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that I am tossing this idea out there to see what happens to it.

I just wrote an email to a friend of mine wherein I stated that a person can do all of the practices assigned to them and become the most enlightened and spiritual person on the planet but if they do not have the ability to be a friend all the other stuff is wasted. So often we desire mystical experiences, something to give ourselves proof that we are doing something. We seem to need these results. Value received for effort expended. What is really happening though is that we are learning about ourselves and hopefully learning to be friends with ourselves. If, on the other hand, we believe that our efforts are making us lofty, or above it all – if we believe that our efforts have the result of making us somehow better or more informed or more spiritual than others – it is all a waste.

All too often, in the spiritual world, I have seen people, who have a wonderful realization and who suddenly find themselves with responsibilities, become parental. They act as if their word is better than all others and their students, assuming they get any, are treated like misbehaving children. Loving contempt is how it seems to me. What continues to surprise me is the number of people who buy into this. Mature adults with good careers and family responsibilities become little kids in front of these self appointed guardians of the mystical path. Everyone is looking for results.

What is really taking place is Divine Process. It is the struggle to understand. And we are all in it together.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir