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