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