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

Thursday, April 02, 2009


"Love is the nature of life, beauty is the outcome of life, harmony is the means by which life accomplishes its purpose, and the lack of it results in destruction. When we reflect upon this whole creation we cannot but see that its purpose is to express an ideal of love, harmony and beauty. Love could not have manifested itself if there were nothing to love, eyes could not have seen if there were nothing to see. What could love have done if there were no beauty? Love would have been silent." Hazrat Inayat Khan

Do you find yourself, from time to time, wishing to express something but knowing that the words will fall on deaf ears? Not deaf exactly, but ears that are not yet ready to hear what you wish to express. If this happens to you then you also are probably struggling with whether or not it makes you somewhat superior to those whom you realize will not hear. It is often an effort to avoid feeling this. And, more often than not, I suspect that you may convince yourself that you have avoided feeling superior while a part of you manages to hold onto it. The mind can be very sneaky about these things.

When you begin to understand the above it is a big step in discovering your own internal elegance. What do I mean by internal elegance? It is quite simply the discovery that you matter. In this discovery, if it is true, there is no need to inform anyone else or to brag or to give the impression that you have attained a higher state of consciousness. It just is and that makes it comfortable.

There is this famous statement that Sufi's often quote when it seems as if complacency is beginning to settle in, "comfort is the enemy of the dervish." For many years I believed this to be a kind of ultimate truth. Now I know it is only a stage. Yes, we must go through an often difficult period of self examination and discipline which can take many years. But, eventually you can come to a place where you realize that your self examination process has become fairly automatic, requiring only the occasional tweak of deep honesty. A great deal of the struggle has to do with pushing through the idea that your self worth is limited. As I have stated many times before, our culture insists on the whole idea of original sin and demands that we feel small. We may even realize that we have been programmed badly but still the programming is there and we must deal with it. And then we get into several bad habits. Having realized that the programming is there we can tend to think that we now understand and can dispense with it. Nope; that's not how it works. I can once again use Tai Chi as an analogy.

It is common knowledge among the really good Tai Chi teachers that many people come to the initial classes and, once they have learned the basic moves, think they now know Tai Chi. The leave, never to return and tell everyone they know that they practice Tai Chi. A lot of people treat spiritual knowledge in just the same way. If however; a person continues to study with a good teacher, such as Majida and I have been blessed with, they will discover that they have just begun. After ten years of study I can honestly say that I am maybe, kind of, possibly beginning to discover the depths of Tai Chi. I can tell you that now, after ten years, I do, very occasionally, for a second or so, feel totally comfortable while doing the Tai Chi form. In those moments the Universe exists and I exist within it. It is exactly the same with reprogramming the psyche.

I hope you understand that this is all developmental, it takes time and the only real way to this discovery is with patience, courage and discipline; the big three. But, occasionally, along the way, it is quite possible to experience this Internal Elegance which is another way of saying that you have touched your soul.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir