Tuesday, December 29, 2009


"People may become friends, they may become acquaintances, relations, they may become connected through industry, political friendship, partnership in business or any collaboration, and yet they may be separated. Nearness in space does not bring the nearness of real friendship. There is only one way of coming near to one another and that is by way of the heart." Hazrat Inayat Khan

I have just had the most remarkable experience. As some of you may know, I guide Sufi retreats. For the most part I use the alchemical model developed by my teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. When I work with someone not in this country I usually avail myself of a web cam and mic. We, the retreatant and I, establish a set time that I will connect with them daily and we talk over the computer. That is how I usually do it; but not this last time.
I just led a retreat for one of my students that was a true collaboration. This person wanted a healing retreat which is a very specific model and not at all alchemical. I am not conversant with it but it so happens that my wife is. Secondly this person really wanted to get away from their house and do it somewhere else. So I arranged with someone I trust to give her a space, feed her, and monitor her progress through the retreat. This is not something I have ever done before. Next, the person monitoring is also in training to be a retreat guide so, in a way I was also mentoring them through the process. Lastly, the person who is their mentor in the retreat guide training was also in the loop and wanted reports. So we had a five way retreat process; the actual person doing the retreat; my wife who wrote the retreat; myself as the fulcrum so to speak; the person hosting my retreatant and monitoring the progress and the hosts mentor. Got all that? It was a remarkable experience. I admit to being a little concerned how it would all work out but I need not have worried.
The key to it all was the host. This person became my voice, my hands, and my intuitive responses. They gave me the most complete reports I believe I have ever seen on this process. The most remarkable aspect was that, when the retreatant had a question about something or a worry, the host, as it was reported to me, seemed to give the exact same answers that I would, often almost word for word as I would say them.
We all felt something deep flowing from heart to heart.
And that is the point of this article. When you trust someone and they actually come through - there is a heart connection that is much more valuable then any kind of intellectual or societal friendship. It is often said that we are all connected but who really believes it. Seriously, in your heart of hearts do you really think you are connected to all other beings and things? It sounds good but who wants to actually do it. But, there can occasionally come a true meeting of hearts. We have the capacity to work together, to collaborate in a deeply meaningful way. We occasionally can have the privilege of working with people deeply sincere in their desire to serve and who have the wherewithal to actually follow through in a genuine effort to merge with us and become more.
I decided to trust this person. I gave them one of my most precious friends to care for and they did not disappoint. What more can be asked of a friend?

My heart is full and my blessings continue to unfold.

May the coming year find you as a friend.

Love and Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


"The further one goes, the more difficulties there are; one finds greater faults in oneself as one advances along the spiritual path. It is not because the number of faults has increased; but the sense has become so keen that one regards differently faults which formerly one would not have noticed."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

I am very fond of saying to people who inquire about wood working that an amateur looks for short cuts while a professional adds steps. It is exactly what Pir O Murshid is saying above. As we become more and more adept at our chosen path, we will of necessity begin to notice many flaws in our character that we had not noticed before. It does not mean that we are accumulating them, they were always there but we blocked ourselves from seeing them. It is the same with any craft. As I grew more and more skilled at woodworking I noticed things that I would have skipped over impatiently in the past. I was and am still impatient but I curb that emotion and take the time to correct anything that may impede a project from being the best I can produce. I hate to sand for instance, I really do not like it at all so I force myself to take the time and do it right. It becomes a true spiritual exercise since I am demanding that my impatient emotion relax and let me create the beauty that the creative part of my mind desires.

It is very common for someone who has taken a spiritual initiation and is seriously working with a guide to go to that guide in deep distress over the above. They suddenly find that they are really a jerk. So many things that they do are either pointless or petty or inconsistent or truly nasty. What I tell them and what I hope most other guides say is that they are really doing the work now and that it just gets worse! Sorry, I bet you thought I would say that it gets easier. Nope. If you are truly paying attention and you really want to become the being that you have always been meant to be then a deep awareness of the truth of the human condition is one of the requirements. There is hope though. It may not get easier but you do get used to it. Finding yet another flaw is kind of like finding an old friend that you never really liked all that much but you tolerated. Now you have the opportunity to realize that this old friend is really someone who is very much a part of you but is growing smaller by the day. That is if you let it. If you are determined to hold on to this old friend, well then they will definitely stay around and help you remain a jerk.

What to do? Laugh it off. Everyone has faults. It is so very easy to see the faults of others but much more difficult to see our own. So, when yours do appear you might, instead of being appalled, be thankful. It is the best option. And the reason is that the more conversant you are with your own faults, which are really just the human condition manifesting through you, the more empathetic you will be toward others. And, the best part is, now you can actually be of service.

One of the things that I have noticed as I continue to work on being a Sufi is that the Universe provides more and more examples of my jerkdom. It is fascinating, also annoying but that's part of the deal. It would be very easy to go back to sleep and be the sad loser I was for the first 35 years of my life. Well maybe not so easy. When we are doing spiritual work, if it is honest we do actually form a habit of paying attention and shifting our emotions about to better respond to the environment around us. For instance I float in and out of crankiness. There are times when I cannot help myself and I am totally cranky and not that pleasant to be around. Other times, more now, I am neutral. Occasionally I am nice to hang with. You will notice that I am totally aware of all of these states. That's what doing the work is all about. Pretending to be spiritual, whatever that means, is not doing the work.

One of the most important practices in all esoteric schools is self forgiveness. You acted badly; you apologize and then forgive yourself. Beating yourself up is wasted energy. That habit of self-flagellation that is still around to some extent is pretty useless to my mind. So for the next little while why don't you have a go at it? Think of something you find uncomfortable in your being and forgive it. If it needs an action, even if it seems humiliating, do it. But mostly forgive.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


“The great Self of the Universe is to be found within the human heart, and the task of the Sufi is to perceive that his own soul is identical with the Universal Soul. When the illusion of separateness, which is the cause of all trouble and pain, disappears, the soul, awaking from the dream of life, will know itself one with God.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan

I had this idea to write about tradition in a kind of condescending manner. I wrote a whole article in this vein, but I cannot publish it. The small ego wants to shout its disillusion but the greater ego says no, that is not the way. So, let us look at tradition as an aspect of what humans need. What do humans really need? They need love.

Everywhere one looks there is a calling to accept some form of traditional thought, behavior or faith. This seems to be how humans operate. We need to know that there is something that we can rely on to tell us what is true. It is so very difficult to know what is true without some kind of guidance.

Both of my parents were orphans and I had no extended family, which is where I believe tradition really originates, so I have little experience with a feeling of tradition. Additionally American culture is still confused about just what tradition we should follow since we are a mish mash of all traditions. So, growing up, I really had no sense of any kind of tradition sustaining me. I have come to see that this is not true for most people.

As I am coming to understand it, tradition is a kind of anchor that we have, that we may not know we have, that we rely upon to tell us who we are. Even if we say we reject the tradition that very rejection is an identity. How often for instance have you heard someone say, perhaps you have said it, I am a lapsed Catholic or I am a non practicing Jew or a non-observant Muslim. Apparently we truly need some form of identity, positive or negative, to give us shape and form. And, even if we reject it, we seem to need to know that there is some form of Divine Love there that gives us depth. We may say that the institution supporting whatever particular tradition we were brought up in is corrupt but the ideal itself is pure.

I freely admit that to me this is a strange idea that I have only recently begun to explore. As far as I am concerned tradition is Geo. Washington never telling a lie, which I later found to be a complete fabrication. Religions and their traditions simply do not resonate within me at all. What does resonate is what I have come to call the Intelligent Universe; a place where we exist and discover and create. For love I have my current wonderful family and my many beautiful friends .

I am beginning to believe that much of what we reach for in our spiritual quest relies very heavily on this idea of identity that formed us. It may even be that we demand that our quest take a particular shape so that we continue to feel that internal comfort and love that we felt in our very early years. Assuming of course that one's early years did have some form of comfort and love.

So tell me, what resonates within you. Do you even know it is there? I am very curious to understand this aspect of humanity and would appreciate any feedback that anyone may care to offer.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"By higher spiritualism we do not mean that which is occupied with occult, curious or magical phenomena. Such spiritualism keeps man away from progress. Higher spiritualism is that in which the soul is enkindled and illuminated."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

There are five chapters in my original manuscript which did not make it into The Sovereign Soul. The chapter on phenomena is one of them. Today I was rereading it and I could see why the editor did not want to use it. In the first place it is kind of confusing and in the second it flies in the face of conventional wisdom that we must have phenomena for validation of our spiritual understanding.

Human beings want evidence. We want to know that the effort we are expending is having an effect and we want to be able to point to something that proves it, to ourselves and to anyone else that we might want to impress. We want to know and we want others to know that we know. It is a natural desire. When a person has embarked on a spiritual path one of the very first things they look for is evidence. The interesting thing here is that the human mind is quite capable of producing it for us.

As a hypnotist, I am very aware of my capacity to create an illusion for a client in order to help them solve a problem. It does not really matter if the illusion has any basis in reality as long as the inner mind accepts it and creates the scenario that enables the client to alter some aspect of their life that is affecting them in a negative way. So I know that the mind can do amazing things to prove to us that we are doing something effective. In spirituality however, this kind of thing gets in the way.

There is a category of phenomena that is useful, as long as you do not give the means of manifestation too much credence. It is when subtle information comes to you from your deep inner being. By the time it percolates to the surface your mind will give it some form of reality that it can use to process the information. Discovering what the illusion represents can be a challenge but it is something that certainly can be done. Then, when the actuality is discovered, the illusion will become a kind of icon that you can refer to while, at the same time, knowing it is a representation and not the reality.

The deepest and most powerful of experiences have no icons, they simply are there as experiences and you know them to be such. All of the visualization exercises that we do leading up to these experiences are very helpful in training the brain to organize how it feels about things. We want the brain to be comfortable with extraordinary experiences, which is probably why we love to have phenomena. It helps us to work up the courage for the really vast understandings, which we have no way of grasping if we are totally committed to how the Earth sees things. So we get phenomena to help us transcend physical reality and experience the truth of creation but then we have to let the phenomena go in order to have this experience.

Obviously this is all very subtle. It may or may not happen in just the way I have described. However; it will be something similar. So, enjoy the phenomena as it appears but do keep in mind that one day you will discover a depth of understanding that stands on its own, no phenomena necessary.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Golden Rule

"What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn"
Rabbi Hillal the Elder, 110BCE-10CE

"To be really sorry for one's errors is like opening the door of heaven."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

I just watched a video of Karen Armstrong, one of my favorite authors, on ted.com. If you are not familiar with ted.com I urge you to go to it right now and watch and listen to something. It is a truly remarkable web site with all sorts of fascinating and informative lectures by brilliant people. What Ms. Armstrong was saying in essence was that whereas religions should be leading the way in creating an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, what they really seem to be doing is getting in the way. They seem to be more concerned with being “right” then with implementing the basic compassion which is at the root of all religious expression. So, what she proposed was that we just do it. Without waiting for someone to say it is okay; that we institute the Golden Rule ourselves.

There is a practice within Sufism called Muhasaba. What it means is examination of conscience and what it asks is that we constantly check out how we are thinking and what we are doing. Much of what we do is based on habit -- habit of thought, habit of behavior, habit of attitude and so on. Along with these habits comes what we in the hypnosis business call the Rational Mind. It is a part of waking consciousness and has only one job really. It gives us reasons for our behavior and for our habits. They don't have to be good reasons or even based on any kind of reality. As long as we believe them then they work for us.

A classic example of a bad reason for behavior is 'white people are superior.' A whole culture believed this and caused untold harm as a result. I am not sure that it was avoidable at the time but it certainly is avoidable now, yet there are those who continue to believe it.

Muhasaba asks that we observe our own behavior, not someone else's, with total detachment, without judgment. But, as you do the practice, just watching, you will find yourself dismayed at some of the things you say and do, apparently with no thought at all. They are just your habit. What the practice does, however, is teach you the truth of the Golden Rule. There is nothing magical about it, implementation is difficult and requires constant attention. What does happen is that you will begin to notice when you say and do things to others that you would hate having done to you. Viola!

I thought to give an example from my own extensive list of bad behaviors but there is no need. Any honest person can easily see their own without my examples. And, I guess I have given enough examples in other places. I think the important thing to pay attention to is the idea of being right. As long as you are convinced of your rightness in any issue, moral or otherwise, you have a problem. Being right is really good for assembling things, engines and bicycles and things like that. For all other issues being right just gets in the way of being truly human.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


It is a sad thing but I guess it wasn't enough. So now I will vet all comments posted to my blog. Sorry but I guess a little effort was not enough. Eventually such people get tired and move on to other areas. Sad really.

Dear Friends,
I feel I must apologize but I also feel I have no choice. As you may have noted we have on this blog what a friend of mine refers to as a troll. A troll is usually a very unhappy person. For whatever reason they feel that they have a right to pester from a place of safety so there is no danger to them. As all of my readers know, I am very open and will accept any comment or criticism given. But I do not feel that you, my readers, should be subjected to notifications from a troll. Therefore I am shutting off the Anonymous Comments setting. Any one of my friends who wants to comment without signing up can do so by sending an email to me personally. I will post the comment for you.
Again I apologize for this action. If it were just me this person was harassing I would not mind but since everyone gets the comment I felt it was not fair to you.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Saturday, October 31, 2009


"True change is very natural. it is not like buying something new but is an organic experience that, once implemented, seems totally normal." Me

"I have the right to grow and become who I am and I have the obligation to use the potentials I was given." My Friend Karin

An editor once told me that I could not use my own quotes to begin a chapter in one of my books. Somehow that is a bad thing. But I don't see why. I am quotable after all.

I have just finished going through my book, looking for places I want changed. There were not many but the ones I want changed are important to me. Oh, if you did not know, Quest Books is going to republish The Sovereign Soul next year. They will re-title it as "Practical Sufism: A Field Guide to Spiritual Life". I like that title because it is much closer to my original intent. I never wanted the book to be a paean to Sufism. It was always intended to be much broader and be accessible to anyone on any spiritual path. So, I went through the book looking for the few references that I wanted to change. There weren't many as the original editor did a great job. There were just a few things that I missed from the first publication that are now fixed.

I was talking with someone this morning who expressed a bit of dismay to me. They noted that they often feel as if something is just about to happen or some form of inner change is taking place and then, poof, the energy dissipates and it seems as if nothing happened; which is when I said the quote at the beginning of this blog.

It is something that I have just begun to really understand. We in the West tend to think of spiritual change as some kind of thing we can acquire through effort. In a way that is true but we also tend to think of it in much the same way as we would if we were to purchase a new roof for our house. The men come, the old shingles are tossed in a dumpster and the new shingles installed. Then we can look at our new roof with happiness, even though we are annoyed that the workmen crushed a favorite rose bush. But then, after awhile we stop admiring our new roof and the rose bush grows back, slightly different then before but still the same plant. That is the process as I see it. However; spiritual change is not quite like that.

I wonder if it is strange that someone like me is still finding new aspects of spirituality to observe and marvel at. I hope it isn't strange because I am continually discovering newness. What a wonderful life this is that we can continually explore and create and discover. I was very aware when writing my first book that once published, it became a kind of fixed icon with no chance for continual growth. It was stuck. Much like scripture is stuck with no chance of revision or change or growth. But humans are not stuck, not at all.

The chance to go through my first book and make some of the changes was an interesting experience. I can see many places where the way I think and feel now is slightly different from the way I felt when I first wrote the book. There is nothing totally dissimilar but there are some subtle differences that perhaps only I would notice. It is still a good book.

Our changes are organic. As long as we continue to pay attention things will happen. We may not notice them as discreet experiences but they happen just the same. Maybe the important thing is to realize that what we are doing is totally natural and it is our insistence on evidence that is a barrier to this natural process. Just let it happen.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Friday, October 16, 2009


"When you can think of yesterday without regret and tomorrow without fear, you are near contentment."
Author Unknown

"I have often regretted my speech, never my silence."
Greek Platonic philosopher (396 BC - 314 BC)

I want to thank everyone for their responses, public and private. It is always good to examine our assumptions in the face of an unusual concept and the concept I posed is apparently unusual enough to evince some interesting commentary.
Several people wrote privately to me and one publicly and asked about the Christian concept of the perfect, all knowing God. It is true that God, in whatever shape or form you prefer, is in fact omnipotent and omniscient. God is also learning and curious and waiting to see how things turn out. It is the basic paradox of existence. It is also true that a paradox can be upsetting to the psyche. But see if you can get hold of this one. I believe it is extremely important.

Another thing that was asked was how we can examine our actions each day to determine the good, the bad and the ugly. I was asked if there is a practice or meditation that one can use to do this examination. Yes there is a practice; in Sufism it is called Muhasaba, examination of conscience. What you do is pay attention to your thoughts. So that when resentment or regret or disappointment appear you notice it. That is all that is necessary. The idea is to give actual attention to your thinking and emotions. When we think we generally do not give thought to paying attention to the thinking, we just do it. And much of our thinking is unnecessary. So, paying attention will give you the information you need to discover your own inner processes and begin to alter them.

I want to give a caveat here about the above instruction. It is not magic, it requires real effort. If you take it seriously you will notice moments of extreme discomfort as you struggle not to give blame but just to notice that you want to give blame, and so on. This is an interim phase that must be gone through as you train yourself to pay attention.

I mentioned resentment above. Resentment is a cousin of regret. It's not the same but it is related and can often be intermixed with regret. Pir Vilayat often said that the great barrier to realization was resentment. But he also said that there was at least one circumstance that he resented deeply that he could not shake. He simply could not forgive the person he resented. And he obviously had a pretty deep realization. So perhaps it is again a matter of being aware.

And that is probably the whole secret to all of these questions, awareness. The more you are aware of your emotions and modes of thinking, the closer you will come to a basic calm attitude about your life. And that, my friends, is exactly what the Pir was talking about when he mentioned becoming a co-creator. If you are calm, then all around you have the possibility to also be calm or calmer. If you are agitated and unsure and constantly waiting for the next problem to arise, well then that is what you create around you. Which means, according to this general theory that we are all part of God, that God is agitated and uncomfortable?

I find more and more that I much prefer to say The Intelligent Universe rather then God. God, as a word, has so much baggage attached that it ends up being useless. However, as members of the Intelligent Universe, we certainly do have the right to co-create. We are intelligent beings, participating in a Universe of unlimited ideas; therefore we might as well do something useful.

So, work on your awareness, notice what you feel, how you think, how you respond to those around you. Do not, I repeat, do not beat yourself up when you find something inappropriate. Just notice. In this way you will slowly change the patterns of behavior that seem so ironclad but are really just chimera of the mind.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Friday, October 09, 2009


"The perfect man uses his mind as a mirror.
It grasps nothing. It regrets nothing.
It receives but does not keep."
Chuang Tzu

"Oh my Beloved, fill the cup that clears
Today of past regrets and future fears.
Tomorrow? Why, tomorrow I may be
Myself with yesterday's seventy-thousand years!"
Omar Khayyam

I should explain that last line. In Sufism, depending on the source, there are either 22,000 or 70,000 veils before the face of God. Omar Khayyam is probably saying that he is waiting for the clarity that will remove all these veils and reveal his true self to his current self. That would be a very common theme in Sufi poetry.

Now, getting to the point of the blog:

We all do stupid stuff occasionally. You cannot be human and not eventually do something that you would rather you had not. Often they will be things that, in the moment seem, if not totally okay, at least somewhat responsive to whatever is taking place. Thinking back on my own regrets I can see that I probably could not have acted in any other way at that time. In retrospect these events seem foolish or harmful or downright idiotic but, at the time, they seemed normal. So, in a way, regrets are reevaluations of events that are now gone and cannot be changed.

My very first Sufi teacher, besides Pir Vilayat that is, was a woman named Iman Ibranyi Kiss. I also had a Sufi guide named Azimat, who gave me my spiritual practices, but I lived in the same community with Iman so she became my de-facto instructor into the mysteries of Sufism. She was fond of saying that she had the right to rewrite her personal history. I puzzled over this because I knew she had had a rough time in the early years and I wondered how she could rewrite it. What I did not realize then was that she meant she was rewriting her attitude toward the events that had taken place. Iman was killed in a car accident at a very young age. I still miss her.

Iman's idea that we can rewrite our history intrigued me for many years. I have a number of incidents in my life that I deeply regret and I could not see how I could experience them as other then awful. I still have trouble with it but occasionally I can see her point.

Imagine for a time that your life, not as you perceive it but as it actually is, is one long dream of God. From this point of view your experiences, however you judge them are also the experiences of God. Among the billions of experiences occurring every day, yours still have value because God, in the Sufi point of view, is kind of like a massive computer, absorbing data and processing the results into a coherent idea of its own existence. This is at least one point of view of the mystics, there are obviously others. But it is helpful. If you can hook into this point of view, even briefly, it gives you a completely different take on some of your more stupid or silly actions. You get to see that they are also the silly or stupid actions of God. And isn't that interesting?

From this we can extrapolate a certain idea about the true nature of reality and our place within it. If we are of the being of God, each of us is an active participant in the drama of the Universe, so every action of ours is also a part of that drama. So, all the stupid stuff we do is also a part of that drama. What do you think is God's point of view in all of this? A part of God, kicks his dog, or beats his wife or causes an accident. What can God be thinking to do such a thing? What does God learn?
It is a great puzzle. It becomes a difficult problem when we begin to realize that we are contributing to the over all knowledge of God, even when we do something silly. Is this our goal then to continually disappoint ourselves? With each regret, disappointment is right there helping. So, do you think that God is disappointed?

The Sufi point of view is that God is simply interested. God watches and experiences and learns and constantly evaluates in some manner that we do not understand. So perhaps it is possible for us also to see in this way and not be quite so hard on ourselves.

So, examine your regrets and see if you can see them as simply a part of your being. You learned, hopefully, and you now know not to do that again; which means that God also learned. You might say that God has been learning the same lessons over and over again and it may look like that but there has been a very slow evolution.
Next blog we will look at this a bit deeper. In the meantime your comments will help me write the next blog.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Saturday, October 03, 2009


"Limitations and boundaries are inevitable in human life; forms and conventions are natural and necessary; but they none the less separate humanity. It is the wise who can meet one another beyond these boundaries." Hazrat Inayat Khan

Can you imagine being totally free? Completely unfettered by any of the various concerns, responsibilities or restrictions that plague you daily? Is it annoying to know these boundaries exist or are you comfortable with your life as it is?

Our limitations are obvious. We have bodies which must eat and breathe and bathe occasionally. We have relationships that are wonderful or annoying or both. And we have the whole experience of living in an increasingly complex world of amazing possibility and incredibly difficult choices. All of this is happening and all the while we are also feeling the inner impulse to understand ourselves and our environment in an ever deepening way. It may be that we are so involved in solving the puzzle of limitation that we ignore the call from within but it is still there.

I was talking to a friend the other day and mentioned the theme of my next blog. She said that to her limitations is a vase holding her potentials. I liked that very much. It embraces the knowledge that limitations exist while also realizing that they do not limit one in the ultimate sense. She also said that if we didn't see our limitations we'd have nothing to compete against, to grow. And perhaps that is what I want to point out.

I suppose it is inevitable that when a person has a spiritual guide one of the impulses is to tell them all your troubles. And it is certainly valuable in the sense that it gives the guide indications of what the person needs to work on. Sometimes the troubles are pretty difficult and there is not much that the guide can do other then express their sympathy and support. Most of the time however the troubles or limitations are the sorts of challenges that give the opportunity for deeper self discovery and expansion of awareness; often though it does not feel like that.

What we tend to do is give much of our attention to the many obstacles in the way. We know that if only this or that or the other were not in our lives we could be so much more aware or spiritual or successful or happy. What is interesting is we also know that this is silly. Never the less we use these perceived limitations as definitive excuses not to push through and discover our true self. Personally I believe this a self protection mechanism. We protect ourselves from becoming because we might find that the limitations we are so fond of are no longer important and, if that is the case, we will not know what to do or who we are. Then what is the answer? Are we doomed to forever feel as if what we want is unobtainable because we are afraid to release our ideas of our limitations? And just exactly what is a wise person as mentioned above?

I do not know as there is a precise answer to any of those questions but I do know that what is needed is courage. Each person must find their own way. Even a revered spiritual guide can only suggest. The guide can never tell you exactly what you must do. In the first place that is very inappropriate and in the second the guide can never really know all of your inner processes. What the guide really does is honor your being. And, when you think about it, having your being honored takes you beyond all limitation and into the realm of the wise.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This has been a really interesting week. Eight or nine days ago, I'm not sure exactly, I received a message from someone who wanted to know if I would help some younger people in Istanbul establish a Sufi group. I will not go into details about the ensuing conversation but I did want to talk about the means by which this person found me. It turns out that my book, The Sovereign Soul, had been translated into Turkish. I had no idea this had happened. I was both really excited and worried that my book had been pirated. I could not understand why a pirate would go to all the trouble of doing a translation however. Pirating CD's and DVD's I can understand but translating a book is a lot of work. As it turned out, my publisher had sent the Turkish publisher a word file of my book and a contract was in the works. I was left out of the loop but I guess it gets that way sometimes. But there is more. The really cool part is that the book is selling really well in Turkey. Apparently there is a very real hunger in Turkey for Sufism sans Islam. This causes me to wonder how many other countries, filled with religious assumptions, have a sub-culture of dissatisfied seekers, wishing for something beyond the normal, traditional religious associations with mysticism.
If someone really seriously desires religious association then that is fine. But when they also insist that anyone who approaches them for esoteric instruction also embrace their particular version of spiritual reality then they are making mysticism small.
Those of us who offer instruction in mysticism must be extra cautious not to impose our needs on the consciousness of those that we teach. Our task is to aid those we instruct in discovering their own dormant qualities. It is not our task to demand that someone anyone become our clone.
There is a real potential within the esoteric community to embrace those who feel disenfranchised by their own culture. They are crying for teaching, for something real, but they do not want to be told what they must believe. And isn't that how evolution really happens? When someone says, I want but not that, then they are reaching beyond what they know into the unknown and asking for something that they sense but cannot quite grasp. Maybe it is time for those of us who teach to catch up with those who are seeking instruction.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

ps: next year there will also be a Hindi edition of The Sovereign Soul translated by Readworthy Publications

Friday, September 04, 2009


"The idea of justice is based upon good and bad. Where there is justice, there is injustice. That means: there are two. Truth is only one. The idea of justice and injustice is from man's conception. When a person rises above justice and injustice, which is subject to change in his every evolution - when he gets above this - he will reach the knowledge of truth. Our conception of fairness and unfairness belongs to our particular evolution. The less intelligent a man is, the more he sees fairness and unfairness, and the more he thinks about it. A stupid person is always ready to judge. In heaven there is only truth and truth is one; where there is no comparison, there is no fairness and no unfairness. Something is greater than fairness and unfairness, and that is truth. It cannot be explained. Truth cannot be acquired. Truth is that which is discovered." Hazrat Inayat Khan

I was having a conversation with a fellow the other day and we happened to touch upon fairness. This man has a deep sense of righteous indignation about any perceived unfairness toward any person or persons and gets very upset when he sees such things happening. I like that attitude and think that it is very important that there are people who feel this way and are willing to do something about the unfairness that they see, which he is. The problem as I saw it was not that he did not have a valid and useful point of view. No, that is okay. The problem was that it became very obvious to me that the above statement by Pir O Murshid was and would remain totally alien to him.

It does not happen often but occasionally I do disagree with Pir O Murshid. In this case I do not believe that a person is more prone to seeing fairness and unfairness because of lack of intelligence. In this I believe he was mistaken. It is not about intelligence at all, it is about awareness. The person that I mentioned above is very intelligent. But, like most Americans, he has little exposure to the broader form of consciousness that we call spirituality. In fact it is becoming more and more apparent that, as the world becomes ever more complex, the tendency to view conditions as unfair is also becoming more and more apparent.

Perhaps we want to believe our own ideals, or maybe we want to think that the world actually has a kind of balanced attitude toward all life. The reality is quite different, as any sociology student should know; people will always tend to view others as either victims (read prey) or as superiors who control you. Of course we also feel kinship with those who are close to us, friends and relatives, but even then we can feel these inner forces at work. And we convince ourselves, over and over, that it isn't fair.

It isn't fair that so many people do not have health care. It isn't fair that old men create wars that young men then must fight. It isn't fair that people must struggle with abusive partners. And on and on. We have a long list. But what if there were another way to look at it?

While it is true what Pir O Murshid says above that Truth must be discovered, it cannot be acquired, still there are ways to look at what we think of as fairness and unfairness and perhaps see them as two parts of the same thing. It is a matter of standing back and seeing the play on Earth exactly as Shakespeare described. The wise have always known that all is not as it appears but it is up to each of us to find our way into this very subtle means of thought and understanding.

I will await your comments and then write a follow up blog perhaps going a bit deeper into this issue.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Sunday, August 16, 2009


“It is a most natural desire of the human soul to seek for happiness and comfort. Man desires principles to guide his life, and he wishes for a moral standard to regulate the life of the community. He wishes for a balance of activity and repose; he desires union with the one whom he loves; he wishes for security of all that belongs to him, a settled reciprocity, a fixed give-and-take, and all things which bring about happiness and peace at home and in the nation.” Hazrat Inayat Khan

“Authority prevents the understanding of oneself, does it not? Under the shelter of an authority, a guide, you may have temporarily a sense of security, a sense of well-being, but that is not the understanding of the total process of oneself. Authority in its very nature prevents the full awareness of oneself and therefore ultimately destroys freedom; in freedom alone can there be creativeness. There can be creativeness only through self-knowledge. “ Jiddu Krishnamurti

"The word security is derived from the Ancient Greek "Se-Cura" and literally translates to "without fear". 'Security' is therefore the state of being secure, or the actions employed to achieve that state, i.e. to be secure is to be without fear of harm." Wikpedia

Imagine for a moment that it is possible to truly be secure. What do you suppose that would be like? When you imagine total security in body, mind and spirit do you find your mind drifting to all the ‘what ifs’? It seems to be a natural impulse to seek security while also being aware of the many things that can go wrong in one’s life. A significant portion of our modern culture is based on this impulse. There is a whole industry devoted to milking this impulse for corporate gain. I do not necessarily see anything wrong with this and I am not advocating anarchy: however I do wonder about some things.

As I have stated in the past, the spiritual life absolutely requires three things if there is to be any expectation of change; Patience, Discipline and Courage. It occurs to me that the last one can be very hindered by our need for security.

One of the things you learn when you take a lot of hypnosis training as I have is that one of the most basic needs of a human, perhaps the most basic is the need to feel safe. Our inner mind or sub-conscious has a lot of jobs but its main job is to protect us from danger, real or imagined. It does not matter whether or not the danger is real because the inner mind is very literal and accepts whatever you tell it. One of the dangers that the inner mind can perceive is change. I do not think that it will come as a surprise to any of my readers to note that change is always uncomfortable. We tend to want our changes to be easy, smooth, no real effort involved. In fact we would pretty much prefer that any such changes just kind of happen without our conscious knowledge. We want to be spiritually aware and to manifest all of the dormant qualities within us but we also want it to be fun with no associated anxiety. But, anyone who has made any kind of effort to expand their state of awareness will know that the above ain't gonna happen. Since this is the case we need to understand the process.

It has long been evident to me that most spiritual training ignores these most basic needs of a person to understand just what is happening to them. There is often this attitude from the teacher that somehow you should just accept and do what you are told. Even when they say that you need accept only what is comfortable, still the attitude is there. I suppose this is a holdover from the traditional way of doing things that held true for so many centuries. But, there is a huge difference in this age. In this age we no longer live in little villages where everyone knows everyone else and is totally supportive. We live in isolation from one another. And even if we are in some kind of village there is still an undercurrent of distrust. Why is this? Because we no longer feel safe. Our world has changed so very rapidly over the past 400 to 500 years that we are still catching up. This is especially true since WWII. Our psyches still are adapted to life in a small village. Almost every single person alive now, with very few exceptions is descended from peasant stock and the one true thing about peasants is that they live in constant fear of the Hun coming over the hill to rape and ravage so they have a very deep dependence on their neighbors. But now, in our modern culture where we are told constantly that trust is misplaced, we are even more fearful. Whew, so what to do?

I think the very first thing that a person should do is decide whether or not you are worth the trouble. Will your safety be increased by self-knowledge? Will you feel more secure by going within on a journey of self-discovery? You see the problem? This is something that you cannot know until you actually do it. So begin with the first one, are you worth it? I am not going to say the obvious because you are the one who must decide. If you look to someone else to reassure you that will only last for a short time as Krishnamurti says above. If you need someone, some authority figure, to maintain your self worth, then it will never ever been secured.

When I am working with a hypnosis client, what I will often do is help them create a safe place, a place in their mind that they can retreat to if the hypnotherapy becomes difficult, which it can at times. So here is a clue for you. You have the capacity to create a safe place in your inner mind that you can retreat to if things get too scary. And, from this safe place, you can venture forth into the unknown and truly discover the wonders of your hidden attributes. There is no need to do it all at once either. Little increments are best.

It is important that we feel safe. It is also important that we exhibit courage in our quest. So, as Pir O Murshid continually says, seek balance.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Part 2

"Every experience on the physical, astral, or mental plane is just a dream before the soul."
"Man's pride and satisfaction in what he knows limits the scope of his vision."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

My best friend is often saying that all of life is a long dream. From beginning to end the dream flows and the quality of our dream is determined by how we decide to see ourselves, others and the whole of creation. As I have been thinking about this theme of belief dreaming becomes more and more important. It was pointed out to me, by someone reading the last blog that people go through various stages and often a sincere belief in something will be their next best experience within this dream. There is a hidden factor here though.

In the last blog I mentioned that I was reading "Reading Lolita in Tehran", by Azar Nafisi. One of the points that she makes several times is that the women of Iran are living someone else's dream. When Khomeini arrived in 79 he had his own dream of how he believed things had been at one time and how they should be in this new Islamic state. Then he imposed his dream on everyone else. In this way a sincere belief became a theocrats means of demanding that the world conform to his particular dream. To be perfectly honest, I am not sure if, in the long term scheme of things, this is good or bad. In the short term it is good for those who need to know they are more right then anyone else and bad for those who want to simply live their lives with basic freedoms. In the long term I can see people discovering two very separate dreams. One would be the dream imposed upon them, especially the women, and the other would be the dream they have of themselves that knows the first dream is an illusion that they must give obeisance to but which has no fundamental meaning in and of itself.

Oh, the hidden factor? It is simply this, whose dream are you dreaming? Your own; or that of someone else.

Isn't that an interesting question? I imagine that many, even most people would say that they are not dreaming, they would say that this is reality. Well, we can debate that some other time but the essence of the question remains. Are you giving belief away? Or, is it truly yours.

What seems to be true is that we, as humans, go through various stages.

I have this person who looks to me, more or less as a guide. She is very pesty. She consistently contradicts me and makes me explain far beyond any reasonable persons need for explanation. Yet I love her. I love her because she will not just accept, it has to feel totally right to her. When we first met she was very sure of her rightness and knew just where she stood. That is no longer the case; now it has become a wonderful stage of questioning belief and discovering dormant possibilities. And it is exciting to watch. For me it is a very difficult challenge because in order to answer her questions I must also question what I know to be true. In this manner Truth becomes this vast arena of ever changing realities. What I continually wonder in this constant reinterpretation of belief is where will it end?

As Inayat Khan says above, our pride keeps us from expanding the scope of vision. So maybe the kinds of people who continually question and demand are the ones who aid us in expanding our scope. I am reminded however of how often I have seen someone, some spiritual teacher, demanding that some student or congregant just accept what they are told with no discussion or argument. Granted, occasionally a student will be obstreperous and question just to show they are clever but that is not always the case. Even then I wonder if there is not purpose in the questioning, annoying as it may be.

From my point of view then, belief is always a variable, never fixed. As anyone who reads my blogs knows, my main point is always that there is nothing fixed, everything is variable, and there are no rules. We can say, from a certain point of view that God or whoever the prime motivator happens to be, watches us as an interested observer. It could be said that this being, assuming there is such a thing, is paying attention to the actions of an aspect of itself that has been given the right to do as it likes, just so God can see what happens. If this is true, then anything that we may believe that depends on some outside source of inspiration or relies on someone else to inform us, must be suspect. Obviously their information is no better than ours. So we each have a responsibility to say what we know to be true for ourselves, not for someone else.

I await your comments.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Friday, June 26, 2009


"True spirituality is not a fixed faith or belief; it is the ennobling of the soul by rising above the barriers of material life."
Hazrat Inayat Khan

"In the realm of religion most believers are still locked into traditionally accepted beliefs... Since these beliefs differ, they are often a cause of political conflicts with the trail of avoidable human suffering... The future perspectives of spirituality are based upon experience rather than belief systems..."
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

I bought a copy of Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi and began to read it. This does not always happen. Often I will buy a book because I like the title or the theme appeals to me. But then, in some strange form of imposed osmosis, I will believe that I understand the book without reading it. Sometimes I will break through this odd form of self denial and read, often discovering that my preconceived notion of the content is a great barrier to actually absorbing the ideas therein presented. It is this barrier that I must overcome in order to participate in the world of the author. Sometimes I will fail in this effort, deciding that I am smarter then the author and understand more then he/she does about whatever the issue or theme happens to be. There are a number of books in my library that I feel this way about and occasionally I look at the spines, imprinted with title and author and reprise my superiority. Then, if I am in a good mood, I laugh at my own presumption.

In the case of Reading Lolita in Tehran, unlike my usual m/o I began reading it right away. Why? Because, unlike many of the books I buy, it is about something that I truly know nothing about, the world of women inside a severe theocracy. Plus, the author has an author's note in the beginning of the book that I adore.
She says:
"Aspects of characters and events in this story have been changed mainly to protect individuals, not just from the eye of the censor but also from those who read such narratives to discover who's who and who did what to whom, thriving on and filling their own emptiness through other's secrets."

Isn't that wonderful though? And it brings me to the point of this particular blog. How much of your belief is based on the need to know you are better than others?
That may seem like a specious question but I am quite serious. I have been thinking much about how nice it feels to know that you know something that others do not know. How nice it feels to be in on some secret that only a very few can truly understand. And then to go further, how nice it feels to be able to tell someone that your belief is waiting for them, if only they will stop and listen for a moment to the wonderful message you have for them.

In the case of Ms. Nafisi, she was dealing in a system that not only is totally sure of its righteousness but also was quite willing to flog anyone who does not agree. Unfortunately for the floggers, eventually people will begin to see that there are serious holes, hypocrisies and inconsistencies in the system. So, we come to the next point I want to make, how invested are you in the belief system that tells you that you are wonderful and others are lacking? Do you depend on this belief system for your identity or to consistently inform you in some way?

I suppose we all do this to some extent; probably because we need some form of anchor to help us feel safe. Fundamentally that is what we are always doing, creating a safe place for ourselves with our interpretation of what we are experiencing or what we are told. When we get high or feel the increased flow of endorphins through our brains, brought on by the meditative or ecstatic state we have found, we will tend to attribute the feeling to whatever is taking place around us. It may be a religious ceremony, it may be a meditation class, it may be something quite individual but our tendency will always be to give credit to whatever or whomever the ecstatic state arose from. And we will then create a system to support our interpretation because that is what humans do. The much more difficult course would be to not create a system or a foundational belief.

It is almost impossible to avoid interpretation. We rely on language and cultural information to orient us and those will always be restrictive. Again the constant question, what to do? Well, back in the day, when I was a hippie, we questioned everything. Our battle cry was, "Question Authority!" Of course that only lasted until one was required to make a living, then authority became useful. I am not advocating such extremes but I am advocating having a look at what you think you believe and why you believe it. Only you can know what that is and how you arrived at the conclusions you have decided are real. As Pir Vilayat states above belief systems, even new ones, are passé; experience is the real teacher. Therefore, have your experiences but avoid creating a system to support them.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


"So for a system to change, one has to dislocate it and assemble it again in a new way."
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

I know of this woman, a Presbyterian minister, who made a very pointed statement about the normal course of events for a spiritual group. I do not remember her exact words so I will have to paraphrase. She said when the founder of the group appears there is a lot of enthusiasm and deep dedication to the message he/she brings. Then his/her successor will tend to expand on the original message, going even deeper. When the third generation comes a distinct change takes place. There is what might be called a regression or a movement toward creating an orthodoxy. So the original message of freedom becomes one of rigid doctrine. Apparently this sort of thing is fairly inevitable. I suppose that what happens then is a shift toward devotion to the orthodoxy. This means that the sort of person who is, what we might call, a spiritual pioneer is no longer welcome.

I was reminded of this when one of my friends was watching me do the movements to a prayer. She told me that my movements, which I had learned 30 years ago, were no longer correct. She also told me that the prayer I was saying, also learned 30 years ago, had been changed and I needed to change how I said it. And, she also told me that two of the teachers I revered and had followed for the same number of years were not academic enough; which kind of shocked me since both have PhD's. But in listening to this I recognized what I had heard above. When someone starts telling you that how you are doing something is wrong, that is the beginnings of orthodoxy. It is also the beginnings of entropy for the group that is making this shift. Or so I believe.

In looking over the various definitions of entropy it would seem that they all mean essentially the same thing. When a system, the cosmos, or something mechanical or a political or social system gets to a place where no more growth is possible it tends to collapse in on itself. Here are the definitions if you are interested: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/entropy

So, what to do? I remember feeling; I think it was last year or maybe the year before, that my home was being taken away from me. I did not understand what was happening and kept fighting against it. I would make comments on the leader's forum which caused all sorts of difficulty. Finally someone accused me of being a constant negative influence and called me a bunch of names, so I quit the forum. After all, from their point of view they were right. I came to realize that what was happening was a kind of heat death and I could not stop it. For that matter, why would I want to?

Everyone is allowed the right to choose freedom or orthodoxy. For many orthodoxy is really the only choice because it gives security and that is the preeminent need of the sub-conscious. To choose freedom means choosing insecurity and a bit of terror in your life as one is never sure of the outcome.
Pir Vilayat used to constantly emphasize that one must free oneself from conditioning in order to become who one really was. Yet what seems to be happening is a determination that tradition is the important thing and that what must take place is an acceptance of what is being taught. Or so it seems to me. I have never been comfortable with someone telling me that it must be this way or that way but that is what is being said. So, I guess I am homeless.

The longer I realize that I am homeless, the more I come to appreciate the truth of what Pir Vilayat once said to me, "now you will discover who you really are!" He said this to me after having given me an unusual initiation. What I have come to understand is that there is absolutely no safety in a group ideal. A person must discover their own ideal. As long as a person is relying on a group ideal to inform them they will always be less then they could be. Being with a group is fine but allowing the group to tell you what to believe is giving up your power. Yet, I also understand that it is a very powerful impulse because there is deep security in accepting the group interpretation of reality.
Spiritual Freedom is apparently a state of being that is not really suited to everyone even though Pir Vilayat called it the ultimate longing of the soul. There is such safety in the group that the group is extremely compelling. And people also want equilibrium. They want to know that there is total balance and that boat rocking is definitely not allowed. Unfortunately a system in a state of equilibrium cannot allow change and with no change death is inevitable. Spiritual Freedom on the other hand is scary.

When I first realized that I was becoming homeless it was very very scary. I felt a deep sense of abandonment. Now I realize it is a gift, perhaps the most precious of gifts. It is still scary at times since the system and the group that I had come to rely on is no longer valid to me. But perhaps that is how things need to evolve. It is a very human compulsion to give one's loyalty to an individual or to an ideal and when the ideal begins to seem too structured or fails us in some way we feel isolated and alone. That's the monkey brain I suppose. But we are much larger then the monkey brain. We are also celestial beings. And, as celestial beings, we are quite capable of the ultimate statement, spiritual freedom is the goal. As Ibn al Arabi has said, as paraphrased by Pir Vilayat, "When God created mankind God had to allow for free will, because to do otherwise would not have allowed for any kind of discovery." This quote is from my memory so please excuse any imprecision.

I just realized that I have not defined Divine Entropy. It's simple really. All things eventually dissolve, even ideals, into the Unity of Existence. So it should not be a surprise to anyone to discover that a large part of existence is in a constant state of flux. As one thing dies another grows. As it happens I believe that the age of spiritually superior beings is drawing to a close and an age of democratic equality is arising. It will not be easy because nothing dies without some kind of struggle and those who have come to rely on the existence of their spiritual superiority will need to let go. Some will, gladly, others will fight on til the end. All in all the world of spirituality is in for an interesting time.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Thursday, May 14, 2009


What is it? Why is it so elusive?

I went looking for an appropriate quote from someone for the theme of this blog but……. There are lots of quotes saying how nice tranquility is and how a person needs to find it in order to feel safe and secure and loved. Apparently though a person is supposed to just know what it feels like and to understand that he/she can do it when desired. That line in the US Constitution, "to assure domestic tranquility," was intended to make it lawful for the federal government to step in if two states went to war with each other, a distinct possibility in the beginning. In fact I think it was this line that was Lincoln's justification for pursuing the Civil War. But that little factoid does not help us in discovering just what tranquility is. All we know at this point is that it is an absence of war.

There is a totally separate meaning to tranquility which appears in spiritual literature and is referred to quite a bit. The word supposedly describes a state of complete peace within oneself, or so I understand it. It is akin to serenity but not to bliss. If I am correct, tranquility might be how you feel after you have an ecstatic experience of Unity. If you are reading along here maybe you can see the little problem with all of this. It all sounds so very nice but how do you do it? Serenity, bliss, ecstasy, tranquility; what do they really mean? How do I know if I am doing them? The answer almost always is, you know it when you feel it.

I have a confession to make; I have never taken any of the buzz words very seriously. I am always skeptical of someone who appears to be spiritual, or shows what we have come to expect is a spiritual mien. I have always been pretty sure that authenticity is self evident and there is no need to adopt a blissed out look on your face except to prove to other people how cool you are. On the other hand I have known people for whom there is no need to prove anything to anyone, they truly are angelic or very gentle and sweet. They just naturally walk around with this look of otherworldliness on their face and everyone knows they are unique. But, for most of us, it is an assumed role.

I once told Pir Vilayat that I was advising my students to just pretend to a state if they did not really feel it. He got very upset at me and told me that it must be authentic otherwise it becomes a habit to assume something that is not real. I was properly chastened and revised my teaching accordingly. That also taught me something about who Pir Vilayat really was and I began to wonder about the people who cozied up to him. Some were authentic I was pretty sure but most? Then I began to wonder just how much I was faking it. As I applied muhasaba, self examination, to my being it turned out that I was faking it quite a bit of the time. Not as much as some but a lot. And that was a shock.

What I have come to realize in the intervening years is that the true states of being that we discuss and that are talked about in the literature are natural. When we are in them in a very pure way we are just in them with no awareness of any kind of uniqueness. When it is over we are not sure just what the state was but we want to find a way to describe it; thus the words evolved. Perhaps the problems come when we find we need to alert others to our wonderfulness. I suspect this is also a very natural thing to do and it does not have to be overt either. We can be very subtle about it.

I started out trying to define tranquility. That didn't work out but maybe I defined something. I invite your comments about just what I did define if anything.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


"The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals." George Orwell

I asked a friend of mine what they would like me to write about in my next blog and they instantly responded LOYALTY. I then asked them what aspect of loyalty they were thinking of and they said, "the one demanding sacrifice of oneself."

Now, I am not totally sure what they meant by that last statement but it is still an interesting theme and one which we can certainly give some attention to.

There is a web site you can go to which has a list of famous quotes. I typed in loyalty and, among all the statements about loyalty to country and abuse of loyalty, etc. I found the quote above. This quote struck me as particularly sensible. Here is another way of saying essentially the same thing:

"Man proves to be genuine by his sincerity; to be noble by his charity of heart; to be wise by his tolerance; to be great by his endurance throughout the continually jarring influences of life." Hazrat Inayat Khan

So, this blog has been sitting in my computer for over a week now while I try to figure out what to say. Maybe I just did.

Yesterday I got an email from a young lady, the daughter of an old friend, asking me to initiate her into Sufism and to be her guide. It is always a deep honor when this happens and this morning, as I was driving my daughter to work, I was going over in my mind the words you say when you initiate someone, as it is not something that I do all that often. At the beginning of the little initiation ceremony you ask three questions. One, Is it your wish to be initiated into the Sufi Order International? Two, will you give your allegiance to the message of unity brought by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Three, will you view this initiation as a most sacred trust given to you by God? As you can see, of the three questions, two involve loyalty. Granted the third question is more about how you see yourself but loyalty is there. Notice that we do not ask that the one initiated give allegiance to anything other then an ideal. There is no demand that one be loyal to a flag for instance or a guru figure or anything like that; just an ideal, Unity. But then an interesting thing happens. Humans have a hard time giving loyalty to such an ephemeral ideal as Unity. We are much more comfortable with a more solid object. Country is about the broadest ideal that most people can feel comfortable with and even then loyalty to country will often be given more substances by coming to mean a particular political party's assumptions about what that should be. In spiritual groups it almost always means loyalty to the leader.

Another thing that occurs to me, that is not a requirement of the second question I mentioned, is sacrifice. Somehow loyalty has come to have this secondary notion attached to it that one may, probably will, be asked to sacrifice something. I think this is what my friend was asking when they mentioned the internal demand that one somehow sacrifice oneself. I think that just about every person that I guide has, at one time or another, asked me what they will have to give up to follow the spiritual path. The classic Zen answer to that question is, "Give up giving up!" which of course also ends up being a kind of sacrifice on their part. Humans can certainly be persistent.

What seems to happen is that we need to over simplify the ideal and to give it a kind of structure that may or may not have anything at all to do with the ideal itself. We surround it with rules and demands and buzz words to the point that it is no longer the ideal that matters; it is all the attachments we have hung off of it.

For just a moment then ask yourself what your true ideal is. Loyalty to the ideal is a given. Then ask yourself how many attachments go with it. Make a list if you have to. Consider all of the various ramifications of your ideal. Let's see what happens.

In rereading I see that I did not touch on Orwell's last statement and it is certainly something that needs mention. One of the aspects of loyalty to individuals that is always there is our tendency to make them more then they really are. For instance; the spiritual student will always idealize the teacher/guide and will give them a wholly unrealistic kind of super human reality. Then, when the student discovers the all too human sides of the teacher, extreme disappointment results. And this happens in all aspects of life. So, if you recognize from the beginning that the object of your adoration is human and is subject to the human condition then there is no need for disappointment. Wry amusement may be more appropriate.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Sunday, April 12, 2009



"Our usual sense of personal identity has the effect of encapsulating ourselves in a limitation - with the consequence that we fail to fulfill the purpose of our lives which is to realize and unfurl the divine perfection invested in our being."

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

As some of you may know, people I guide live all over the world. Once, at the behest of someone who was curious, I counted up and discovered that there are at least 15 different countries represented in my circle of friends. Many of them talk with me via instant messaging, usually on Yahoo. One of my friends, on the other side of the world, was chatting with me the other day and told me that she had been speculating about her usefulness in existence. The question was would it matter if she had never been? My first reaction, of course, was to say that certainly she would be missed but I didn't say it. What I did say was, "Do you believe you have a soul?" There was a long pause, the little cursor on the dialogue box kept blinking. Then, the answer appeared, "Yes I have a soul." I then asked if she could see that the soul expresses itself as it wants or needs to. That was a bit more complicated and we talked about that a bit. Then I pointed out that if she did not exist we would have had to invent her.

The argument goes something like this. All aspects of creation have representations within ordinary reality. They may be very evident or just blossoming but they will be there, at least to the limit of our capacity to notice them. I suppose that means that there are aspects of creation that have yet to be represented. Perhaps they are waiting for combinations that do not yet exist in ordinary reality. That is as may be but, for the purposes of this discussion, we might say that all representations, once they are focused into a single life form, are unique. Even in the most mundane of expressions there is uniqueness, small differences. Snow flakes are a good example. Since all representations are totally unique, in that they have a point of view and life's experiences that give them uniqueness, or at least some form of individuality, each is necessary to enable the Universe or God or whatever you care to call the Prime motivator to know itself. A mystic might argue that even a show flake has a certain amount of self awareness, in as much as the Universe is aware of the snowflake. The trick part of all of this is that there is a constant flow of learning through the body of the Universe. In the case of sentient consciousness, the interaction of all the myriad souls has a flow or perhaps an unfolding. Since the flow that created the person who inspired this blog existed, then it would follow that the particular qualities that make up her personality also had to exist. So, in that respect, her existence was inevitable.

I think my friend's question is also an inevitable one for those of us who want to know ourselves. Personally, I think that the need to know oneself is a fairly rare compulsion but it is a compulsion; there is no doubt of that. It is an inevitable question but it is also one in which a person can get stuck. I can easily imagine someone feeling quite proud of themselves for noticing this question and then thinking that they had discovered something profound. In a way it is profound but in another way it is simply another step along the path to self understanding. I suppose I might be a bit prejudiced since so many of the people I talk to, maybe all of them, are struggling to understand who they are and what they should be doing. I am in that group myself.

Maybe I should reiterate that all of these little articles I write for this blog are my speculations. They are not definitive answers to anything. However, if my speculations manage to rear questions in your mind and occasionally provide alternative modes thinking, then that is all to the good. I am convinced that what I call Internal Elegance is quite simply constantly questioning. Not in any pugnacious way but in continually asking oneself, what am I doing? There is a freedom to such questioning. It is a freedom of independence, even from one's own assumptions. The elegance arises when you push through your assumptions and allow yourself to notice your own elegance.

Every one, every single person now living, has a latent magnificence. We are all spawned from the desire of the Universe to know itself so how could it be otherwise. We have as many different ideas about ourselves as there are people but we all have one very important thing in common – we exist. And, because we exist, we have the opportunity to become all that we truly are. Isn't that wonderful?

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Tuesday, April 07, 2009



"Strive to discover the mystery before life is taken from you. If while living you fail to find yourself, to know yourself, how will you be able to understand the secret of your existence when you die?" Farid ud Din Attar

What would you suppose is the mystery of life that Farid ud Din Attar refers to? Take a moment and consider. I'll wait.

Now, notice that your mind wants to find a reason, a channel, some form of rational examination upon which to focus. The mind needs to understand, to grasp ideas, to have logic and facts that make sense. As it happens, in this particular case, reason is the last thing you need.

I was just thinking that when I am writing these blogs I tend to go to a place that is outside of my normal rational self. It is a place that allows the truth of being to push through the rational mind in order to discover one's breadth. Or that is how I think of it when I am back in the rational mind. What is also certain is that, even though I may be able to access certain attitudes and ideas that seem quite subtle and elegant in their own right, I don't actually live that way. I spend my life walking around banging into things and wondering why it hurts, just like everyone else. Which means, of course; that I am searching too. I am wondering what the mystery is and whether or not I understand even a small part of it the same as you.

If you have truly been paying attention to your inner needs you may have noticed that the level of assurance of place and position is inversely proportional to your state of awareness. In other words, the more aware you are of the Celestial realm, the less sure you are of your place within it. On the other hand, I have seen many people in the spiritual business who seem to feel the need to assure one and all, most especially themselves I suspect, of their very deep knowledge and fundamental surety of their place within the scheme of things. I would like to think this is a stage of growth for them but all too often it seems that people are stuck, or so it seems to me. I suppose that this is very reassuring to those people who gather round them in that it gives a kind of anchor to the drifting psyche and allows a certain composure or ease of emotion. But real spiritual evolution is just the opposite.

I think I have told this story before but I will retell it for the sake of this discussion. It was some years ago that I was once again driving Pir Vilayat to Kennedy airport. We were chatting about this and that when he suddenly turns sideways in the passenger seat to face me and declare, "I am 75 years old and am just now beginning to understand what a Sufi is." Needless to say this statement thoroughly surprised me as he had been teaching Sufism for the preceding 35 years. But it stuck with me as a kind of benchmark. If Pir Vilayat can feel this way, constantly refining and discovering and challenging the self, well then I certainly can do no less. To me that is a true internal elegance. The constant questioning of one's self assessment is a sure route to a deep understanding of, not only the self, but also the greater cosmos. And it is probably the answer to the puzzle posed by Attar above.

I am convinced that one of the stages in development of self knowledge for a lot of people is the N word. No. Self knowledge is just that, knowledge of the self, which means that you get to have boundaries. Granted, it is a stage and there are stages beyond but it is an important phase to go through. At first saying no can seem quite harsh and unforgiving of those around you but, after awhile, you get used to it. It is all part of learning who you are and, most importantly, as I stated last blog, that you matter. I am not advocating being obstreperous just for the sake of it. What I am saying, however; is that it is very important to have a look at just what you do accept and see if it aids you or hinders you. It is one of the ideals that the counter culture of the sixties and seventies was struggling with. We didn't really understand what we were doing but we knew that there was something wrong with what we were being told and we were determined to reject it, whatever it was. As it happens we made some serious errors but we did get the ball rolling as it were. Now it is up to anyone who recognizes that there is more, to learn to go deep within and discover that place of magnificence that is the true self and bring it forth. Not with pretense but with truth.

Remember; Patience, Courage and Discipline. With these three ideas in mind, you will do very well.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir