Tuesday, March 17, 2009


"Our ability to achieve what we so wish to accomplish is poised precariously upon our self-esteem, and our self-esteem is constrained by our self-image which is a sliver of who we are. Consequently the unfurling of the bounty of who we are potentially is blocked by our refusal to recognize all the dimensions of our being."

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

The above quote is very typical of the way that Pir Vilayat spoke all the time. It came to mind after I had a nice conversation with my best friend the other day and we were noticing how vast the vision of Pir Vilayat had been. He often spoke in very broad terms but with very specific objectives, explaining in a concrete manner just what was possible for the person who was willing to follow his lead and deeply explore the inner workings of the mind and soul. One of the points about this teaching of his, that we both noted over and over, was that following his lead took courage.

As I have pointed out in previous blogs, any time that you challenge your idea of who you are, there will be instant psychic resistance. Your personality is quite happy with who it thinks you are and does not like change. So, to follow Pir Vilayat's dictum above, and reach for those dimensions of being that we refuse to recognize, is to go into areas of extreme psychic peril.

He had a number of very simple examples that he used to illustrate what he was eager for his students to understand. One of them was the following: A mother has a small child in her lap and is looking at a picture book. On the page before them is an illustration of a tree. Hidden in the leaves but still visible is a pixie and the child is trying to see it but cannot. The mother keeps encouraging the child to find the pixie, which is very obvious to her but not to the child. Suddenly the child spots the pixie and his face lights up in delight. And the mother hugs the child and tells it how wonderful it is for having discovered the pixie in the tree.

This little illustration seems simple to our adult minds. Obviously the child will have a hard time seeing the pixie in among all that foliage. I wonder though if you can also see that it applies to the adult mind just as well. It is very easy to say, "Yes, I understand what the teacher means." Our task is to ignore this voice that insists it already understands and to truly do the work of discovery that is open to all.

As a spiritual guide myself I am often struck by how long it sometimes takes a person to see something that, to me, is very obvious. I have learned patience but I also wonder what I personally am not seeing. Now, that is a humbling thought. But it is also the kind of thought that helps me along and pushes me over and over again into that precarious ground where the mind is unsure of what it is experiencing and wants to recoil from an examination of the next step in its development.

One thing that my friend noted, in our conversation, that I hadn't really known about the Pir was that he was always surprised when people acted generously or wisely. He was so used to people operating from the small ego and demanding their own version of acknowledgment of the self that when people acted with compassion and understanding he was genuinely surprised; delighted too of course but mostly surprised. I am pretty sure that what surprised him was this very idea of his student acting with courage.

Some of you may know that I am a professional hypnotist. I will not explain how hypnosis works here, perhaps in another blog but for now I will tell you one thing that all hypnotists know. What we do is work with the subconscious and because of this we also know that the subconscious has one job and one job only – its job is self protection. For the purposes of this discussion we can say that its job can only be fulfilled if it protects our version of ourselves that we hold dear. Pir Vilayat used to say that one of the purposes of the meditations and practices that he prescribed was to re-program the personality. Hypnosis is essentially the same. Only in the case of hypnosis it is very case specific while meditation is much more general. Both have their uses.

What excites me is noting that our modern culture is working hard to discover ways to access these unrecognized dimensions of being and implement them in ever more creative ways. The growing acceptance of hypnosis as a viable therapy is only one of these ways. We make a lot of missteps and false starts but we keep trying. If it were not so the Self Help section of bookstores would be empty. We really want to know how to be who we really are. The most important thing you can do is to keep asking, never totally accept your personal version of who you are. It is an amazing experience when you discover that not only are you magnificent, you are also quite capable of manifesting this magnificence.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Some years ago I was complaining to a friend about the inordinate amount of unfairness that I saw in an organization I belong to. She recommended that I read a book by a Jungian analyst called "Up From Scapegoating," the author is Arthur D. Colman. It was an eye opener about how organizations really work. In the book he uses a story from Ursula LeGuin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” It is the story of a perfect society, one in which everyone is completely content. But there is a catch. Here is a description from a web site I found:

"This society is founded on the misery and degradation of one child, imprisoned in a dirty, dark cellar room furnished with a bucket and two mops, kept from human contact and sunlight. (A number of critics have seen Christ-like symbolism in the description of the child). What is worse, everyone in this “joyous city” knows about the child; they are complicit in its inhumane treatment."

Here is the url if you want to read the rest of the synopsis: http://jeffersonflanders.wordpress.com/2006/07/26/summer-reading-ursula-k-le-guin/

The point Mr. Colman was making in using this story was that every association, organization, company or non-profit, apparently requires one or more scapegoats in order to pretend that it's existence is valid. As I read his book I began to see the parallels between what he was speaking about and the behavior I had observed in my own organization. And I felt sad. But then I read something that he wrote that gave me a lot of encouragement. He said that the one most important aspect of scapegoating that people often miss is that the one who is assigned the role need not accept it. In fact this person, who does not accept the role, will often turn out to be the teacher of the group that had once thought of him/her as inferior. I do not expect that but I can certainly understand saying NO.

Spiritual groups seem to be ripe for scapegoatism. I have a theory about why that is. Such groups tend to attract fairly intelligent people who do not do well in normal society. Since they have little chance to be given kudos in contemporary culture, they will look for it within this very limited group. I know this because, at one time, that was my motivation. When I realized I was doing that it was a great shock. And I found myself withdrawing more and more from the center of things. I got angry at people; I told them what I really thought of them and their actions. I ended up being branded an iconoclast, which made me feel good. And now, I know how to say NO. No, I will not support you in your insistence on a doctrine that turns away from Universality and needs the solace of…………..well that is another blog. Whew, that was close, I almost fell prey to anger again.

So, I say to you, all you scapegoats and all of you who scapegoat people, this is not the way. If we cannot find another way then the Universe will grow tired of us and replace us. And we will have earned our fate. If we cannot listen to the voice of creativity; if we demand that all conform; if we limit our experience to what is safe then we have not fulfilled the vision that was set out for us. Otherwise we are no better than that fictional culture that kept the little girl in the dungeon, mindless, ridden with sores, in a constant state of pain.

As I wrote in another blog, there is an arrogance of knowledge that we are subject to. I have seen it and, to my shame, I have participated,. But there is hope. There is an exercise that we can do to stop the arrogance and begin to see what is really important. We can listen. No matter how mundane, no matter how sad, no matter how depressive the content of the statements of the person before us, listen. Within all of that pain is a message, all this person really wants is a friend. Esoteric knowledge is nice, friendship is ever so much better.

I searched a program I have of the works of Hazrat Inayat Khan and was amazed at the number of times he mentions friendship as the most important thing. It isn't spiritual accomplishment or any of those nifty things, just friendship. The following is just one example.

"There is outer expression and inner expression, and we do not always know which is which. We may think many people are far removed from the God-ideal while they are much nearer to God than ourselves. It is difficult for anyone to judge who is near to God and who is not. It is difficult to know even in our own lives what pleases our friend and what does not please him. The more conscientious we are in wanting to please our friend, the more we find how difficult it is to know what will please him and what will not. Not everyone knows it, but then the light of friendship has not been kindled in everyone. Sometimes it remains a word in the dictionary. One who has learned friendship has learned religion. The one who has learned friendship has attained spiritual knowledge. The one who has learned friendship need learn very little else; morals in Persian are called friendship."

And another:

"It is in this way that self-denial is learned; not always by fasting and retreating into the wilderness. A man conscientious in his duty and in his obligations to his friends is more pious than someone sitting in solitude. The one in solitude does not serve God, he only helps himself by enjoying the pleasure of solitude; but the one who proves trustworthy to every soul he meets, and considers his relationships and connections, small or great, as something sacred, certainly observes the spiritual law of that religion which is the religion of all religions."

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, March 02, 2009


Life is what happens while you are making other plans.
When I first heard that little cliché I thought, yeah sure, I know that. Still I went on making plans. Silly me.
Now I find that the older I get the less I know and life keeps going on with or without my approval.
All of which leads me to wonder.
Is it me?
Or is it a recording of me?

When the film The Matrix came out, I noticed that a lot of people were all agog at the concept the film introduced. I have been reading Science Fiction since I was 12 so the idea was not startling to me. In fact it was rather ho-hum and, to me, not very well done. It was rather cartoonish, not at all the kind of science fiction that I enjoy. Still, the movies did introduce an alternative way of thinking into people, worrisome though it may be to think we are really controlled by some kind of super computer. For perhaps a nano-second or so, people had a look at their concept of themselves and wondered – am I real? The thought did not last long, in part because it is not at all safe for the psyche to think in this way. I seriously doubt that this thought was more then a momentary blip in the consciousness of most people who saw the movies. It would be there and then they would settle back into their normal state of being, studiously ignoring the small voice within saying, "What if it's real?" It's not real, but it is an interesting metaphor describing what is real.
If we are paying any kind of attention, we have a problem, a quandary. On one hand we have our personal life to live and, to our individual consciousness, it is of supreme importance. On the other hand we are aware, to a greater or lesser degree, that life does go on, whether we pay attention or not; whether we even exist or not. This paradox is probably the source of most of our deeper anxieties and is also the probable source of many of our conflicts with one another.

One of the great consolations of any religion is being told that you are privy to a wonderful secret that only the few are allowed to discover. This is even truer in esoteric groups. We are told that we are special; even though a part of the doctrine will be that we are not. It is another paradox. I suspect that a subconscious reason for this kind of thing is what I mentioned above; the sneaking suspicion that we do not matter at all and therefore must find a reason to matter; just as in the movie The Matrix. This is silly.

We each of us matters because each one of us individually has our own peculiar relationship with the Universe as well as our own particular collection of experiences and attitudes. We are each unique and the Universe needs each and every one of us to understand itself. Never the less, because of the apparent size of things, we continue to wonder if we really matter. So what can we do to counteract this suspicion of ours? The intellect won't do it because an honest person always suspects what the intellect tells him. The emotions won't do it because the fear of being wrong is always there. What will work?

I have been trying to think how it is that I have no problem with the idea that I matter. All I can think of is that it was a gradual realization. Some of it comes from deep meditation but perhaps more comes from observation of how I have changed over the past 30 years. So, once again we come to the conclusion that what really works, in almost every endeavor to understand ourselves and our environment, is simply paying attention. Constantly asking yourself what you are doing, not why, just what, why comes out of what. The problem with why is the possibility of self deception and that blocks realization. Just ask yourself what you are doing at any given moment and something happens inside that I cannot quite explain but it's a good thing.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir