Friday, April 15, 2011


I was just notified by my publisher of a new book review for Practical Sufism. Here is the link if you are interested:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


"If a person has learnt the manner of friendship he need not learn anything more; he knows everything. He has learnt the greatest religion, for it is in this same way that one will make a way to God." Hazrat Inayat Khan
'Friendship in the path of God, friendship in the path of truth is greater than any friendship in life.' Abu Hashim Midani

I wrote about this theme four years ago. Reading back over it, it seems rather self-serving and ego centric. Oh well, we all move along at our own pace and mine seems to be that of a moderately self-aware snail. So, moving on

In the past few months I have given five or six radio interviews about my book, Practical Sufism. The interviewers always begin by asking what Sufism is. My answer always is, "It depends on who you ask." I go on to say that Sufism is different things to different people but to me it is about understanding friendship. In this manner I make it clear that anything else I say is my idea and not any kind of doctrinaire expression. I also present the thought that understanding friendship is the foremost ideal to foster in this age of confusion and contention. But what is this friendship of which I speak and which seems to be so very important for the coming age?

First of all, let's establish that what we normally call friendship is really acquaintance. Acquaintances are people you know, in one way or another, whom you may or may not like. If you like them, you might think of them in various ways, often you will think if them as friends but you will also be thinking .what does this person do for me? How does this person enhance my own version of myself? As long as they are doing that for you, and you are doing it for them, you will remain friends. But, let that ideal slip in even the slightest way and then what happens? I had a hypnosis client the other day who firmly stated that she would be friends with a person right up until the moment that they hurt her. Then they were summarily ejected from her life with no more chances possible. That's it, done, never darken my door ever again. Because she has a lot of issues I did not point out that this might be a symptom of something deeper. But I think that it points out a fairly common way of thinking. Friendship is temporary, disappointment is always lurking, waiting to pounce. And then, when the expected disappointment appears, the only recourse is to defend and protect yourself. This is about as far from friendship as it is possible to get but it is our norm.

Friendship starts, must start, with being friends with yourself. That means knowing your flaws but still seeing that you are much more than your flaws, that you are a wonderful person who is living their life. Only then can you look to others and be their friend, unconditionally. The most important part of being a friend is overlooking the flaws of another. Knowing your own flaws you can easily see that the person before you is living their life, doing what they can and slowly understanding, just like everyone.

In Sufism God or Allah is often thought of as The Friend. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Most of mankind’s religions create an image of a remote, judgmental, more or less arbitrary God that might or might not deign to grant a wish or interfere in affairs. For God to be The Friend however is a whole different way of feeling. A friend is someone who is always there, supportive, happy to be with you, unconcerned with your many faults. The Friend is with you regardless. It is natural to want to please your friend but what can you do to please The Friend, even though The Friend is unconcerned with being pleased? . In this case the pleasure of The Friend is gained by becoming your true self. And what does that mean? Among the many aspects of becoming the true self, perhaps the most important, as noted by Pir O Murshid above, is the development of friendship, for yourself and for others

So, if your closest friend is God, how could you possibly feel that another person, also part of God, is anything less than your friend as well? See how this works? It isn’t hard at all but it does require some commitment on your part. Commitment you ask? Yes, commitment to The Friend.
Maybe commitment isn’t quite right. How about acknowledgment? Or, how about being friends with yourself? Since you are part of God, acknowledging God as The Friend is really acknowledging being friends with your own self. To acknowledge that God is your friend might seem like a stretch. But it isn’t really. If you already feel that you are part of the Universe and can see that your participation in the Universe is a worthy endeavor then it is not so very hard to see that the Universe or God likes you. How about that? You have already been told that God loves you, kind of like a parent loving an unruly child but God likes you and is happy that you exist? Think about that for a while and then let me know how that feels.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Everything Matters

Nothing Matters

Everything Matters Exquisitely

Nothing Matters Exquisitely

"The consciousness is the intelligence; the intelligence is the soul; the soul is the spirit; and the spirit is God. Therefore consciousness is the divine element; consciousness is the God-part in us. And it is through consciousness that we become small or great, and through consciousness we either rise or fall, and through consciousness we become narrow or we expand."

Hazrat Inayat Khan

The above four stages of consciousness contain my very first lessons in metaphysics and spirituality. The fellow who explained them to me could be seen as my very first teacher, though that did not last very long. He was a very strange guy who was convinced that demonic possession was the cause of most mental illnesses. That would have been okay except that he worked as a counselor at the local mental health clinic and tended to tell clients this. Never the less he did give me the above, which I have used as a bench mark ever since.

Let's go through it.

Everything Matters: Think of your immediate environment and how you feel about it. How important is it to you. How much do you invest in demanding that the environment, the people you know, the things you do, conform to a certain standard that you have set? This is the stage of Everything Matters and we all go through it. It is a stage of total self involvement in which we believe that our very limited world is all that there is.

Nothing Matters: Many people move from the above into nothing matters. I hear it a lot from people who are getting ready to push through. It is one of the stages that a teenager goes through when he/she begins to question the dictates of parents and other authority figures. It was the guiding light of the early alternative movement. It is a misunderstanding of Maya – the veil of illusion spoken of in the Upanishads. Never the less we all must go through this stage of suspecting everything around us if we are to move on to the further stages.

Everything Matters Exquisitely: This is a place where a lot of spiritual type people tend to stop and feel content, which is fine. It is a place in which the world has expanded, the horizon has been pushed back and many new ideas and feelings are now evident for the spiritual seeker. It is where you are totally immersed in the sunrise and feel the life energy all around you. It is also a place where compassion for others really begins to become important. And it is a place where one might establish a very rigid set of rules about life and the Universe, which are not as limited as those still in the Everything Matters stage but are none the less limiting.

Nothing Matters Exquisitely: Imagine gazing at that sunrise mentioned above, appreciating it, in the moment, but not being at all attached to it. It is a stage beyond all stages because one realizes something very important. All of this is transitory. Only the soul matters in the end.

The above is how I think of these four stages of consciousness. You are free to make up your own definitions of course. I often change how I explain them when I am working with someone. There really is no fixed explanation, they exist as they are and then we attempt to give value with our words. So do as you like. I am simply offering them to you as a gift, as I was given this gift 35 years ago. Sometimes we need these kinds of things to help us gauge where we are in the pursuit of understanding consciousness. As Pir O Murshid says above – it is through consciousness that we become narrow or we expand. Which, when you think of it, was exactly what Pir Vilayat continually taught.

I will be curious to hear your comments.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir