Monday, March 29, 2010


I have had several people mention to me that they cannot seem to post comments. It is true that Google has made it way too complicated. However, if you post your comment as Anonymous and sign your name I will know who it is and it makes no difference to anyone else.
Blessings, Musawwir

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Ask any Sufi you know what Sufism is and you will get an answer. Ask another and you will get a different answer. Go on line and look up the many Sufi sites and each one will tell you what Sufism is and they will all be different in some way, often in significant ways. Ask a scholar of Sufism and you will get an academic answer filled with convolutions, comparisons and allusions that leave you gasping for air. Some will say that it is the mystic aspect of Islam and that you cannot be a true Sufi if you are not a Muslim. Others will say that is not true and that many people over the centuries have embraced Sufism without embracing Islam. And on and on go the discussions and arguments.
It seems to be one of the major traits of humanity to need to define things. And, we will almost always define things or ideas in light of whatever cultural baggage we happen to be toting around. This is a problem when the thing we decide to define defies definition. There’s alliteration for you. In any case, it is certainly a possibility that if Sufism has so many ideas about what it is then it is probably true that the definitions that appear are almost certainly based on the opinions and ideas of the people doing the defining.
Way back in the dawn of time, when I first discovered Pir Vilayat and Sufism, I thought that I knew what it was. To me it was the path I had been looking for, the teacher I needed and the means of unraveling all the strange experiences I had been having for the previous ten years. I really did not care at all about its origins or any of the definitions. I only cared about processing the inner turmoil and creating something understandable of my life. I liked the idea that it was ancient and not some New Age thing that someone invented from their own ideas of what ought to be. And, I really liked the fact that occasionally Pir Vilayat would say that he did not know something but would find out. Then I began to study Sufism seriously and discovered all the controversy, all the opinions, all the insistent definitions. So what is it? The problem seems to be focused on which direction we approach the idea from.
From our ego's point of view Sufism must conform to our cultural understandings. We need it, or any spiritual discipline for that matter, to be recognizable by our sense of self. It can be exotic as long as we are able to accept its exotic nature as something we can process internally. It can be defiant if that is our tendency. Witness the apparent need of some Western followers of Sufism to adopt Arabic dress even though it is pretty inappropriate in a Northern climate. There is also a tendency to display our commitment in other ways and demand that others recognize our enthusiasm. And I could go on. But that is not where this started. It started with the idea that Sufism is and should always remain individual, that's why it is mine.
My Sufism does not care about tradition or the need to define. It seems to me that, if a person wants to do all that then that is okay, but it is not for me. To me it is what works. As some of my readers know, I have a very extensive library of Sufi literature. It is helpful in that it gives me inspiration and I enjoy the mental stretching I must do in order to understand some of the references. But, as Pir Vilayat once instructed me rather sternly, you can't get it from books. You get it in the here and now. Yes, we rely on practices that have been developed over the centuries and God bless all the beings who worked so very hard to create these meditations and practices but, we also live in the present. We live in a complex culture; perhaps the most complex ever and our needs are quite different from a seventh century seeker. And we know more.
In the seventh century a person's outlook would be pretty truncated and the world view would have been quite limited but not now. In the 40 odd years that I have been paying attention we have seen the availability of spiritual literature and access to meditation techniques explode in a manner unprecedented in any other age. So why look to the past?
As near as I can tell from this extensive library of mine, Sufism has always been about being in the Now. Its major proponents wrote books yes, but the great majority of followers were living in the present moment, content to be who they were while continually working on the self in order to understand and become the whole integrated human they were meant to be. At least that is the ideal that comes forth in the literature.
This is what I have finally come to understand. We need to define ourselves but this very defining ends up limiting our potential and undermines the very core of our being by insisting that we must conform to a definition. If we can let go of the need for definition for even a moment then the freedom that is our soul's truth can shine forth and all that we are becomes the reality that we all seek.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Monday, March 15, 2010


"The pull of the future is stronger than the push of the past."
Leonhard Euler

We were in the car the other day, listening to the one of only two classical stations available to us. The DJ announced that the next piece would be Grieg's Piano Concerto and I automatically hummed the first few opening notes. This is probably not unusual for a classical music buff but I had no idea that this information was stored in my memory. I like classical music but I cannot say that I ever bothered to really learn who was who, etc. It really surprised and pleased me when the opening bars came and they were the notes I had hummed. I am still pleased and a bit excited to realize that something that I had known, the power of the inner mind, and that I use all the time in my hypnosis business, was actually true in a way that I had never suspected. The second part is that right now, in this moment, I have no clue what those notes are. So were did it come from?

One of the things that we tell a new hypnosis client is that the inner mind, what Freud called the Id, is the store house of every single experience we have ever had. Every thought, action, event, etc., is stored in there. This information is available to us but only on a very limited basis. It seems that the human mind has a very heavy set of filters that keep us from being overwhelmed by trivial or even important information. We don't remember things because we apparently do not need to. Or that is the way it seems to work. It would follow then that a person with a so-called photographic memory isn't really remembering things we would ordinarily forget, he just has selective recall of information that we also have but are blocked from accessing. In the hypnotic trance however; it is quite possible to access almost anything, probably including being able to hum the whole Grieg Piano Concerto, not just the opening bars. It also means that the innermost aspects of our beings, the truth of who we are is also available for access.

From the Sufi point of view, none of this really matters. It does matter that we heal our psyches but for a totally different reason then the one you may imagine. As the quote above implies, the future already exists. In all esoteric systems everything that ever was, is, or will be exists within the Celestial Dream of Creation. This is a tricky idea to hold in our minds but there is one way of seeing it that can be helpful. I was talking with a student the other day and I found myself saying something new. I said, "The Future Self looks at the present Self and says, 'We have to do something about that.'" In other words, the future Self remembers the present self and recognizes the things that the present self must do in order to become the best future Self that it possibly can be. It is not easy to think of memory as being fluid and existing in all the dimensions, all the time. And those who subscribe to predestination might say that there is really nothing they can do to alter what will be. But that is not true. The future Self exists yes but in the present we are determining the quality of that future Self. We are creating the future even though it already exists. This is the place where we separate the true mystics from the wanna-be's.

I am very fond of saying to people that spirituality is not about puffy white clouds and pink bunny rabbits. Lovely as that image is, it is wishful thinking. We cannot deny that life is a struggle and we are continually challenged to uncover an ever deeper means of observation that understands this struggle in an ever widening manner. It is like a spiral of awareness that continually grows – if we are truly paying attention. Or you can pretend that your particular way of seeing is the only right one and continually demand that the world conform. It should be obvious even to the most hide-bound New Age believer that that does not work. Therefore it might be a better expression of our potential to continually work on one's Self in service to the future Self that is looking back on the current self and remembering what could have been. How's that for a confusing sentence?

The future Self will have the very same filters that we currently have and may only remember small snap shots but deep in its psyche will be the programming that we are currently shaping in our deep desire to become who we really are.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir