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