o I think that for clarity’s sake, it is sometimes good to identify the different personae in one’s being. Let’s say, to try to simplify things, one could distinguish the priest—that I already talked about—the hermit, the knight and the householder. I know we have all of these things in us, so, but some of them are more developed than others. But it’s a question of identifying that … the part that these different roles play in our lives.
So as I said, we normally are so enmeshed in the commonplace living that we find it very difficult to give vent in our lives to, for example, even the knight. Well, of course, as I said, that division that is made or was made in the traditional Hindu … customs of the Hindus between the sannyasin and the householder, well, it has its usefulness. But we’re living at a time when, as I said, it’s important for us to find a way of introducing spirituality into life rather than just separating things into categories like that. And, anyway, just think of the words of Christ, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and God what belongs to God. And so there is much I suppose, much of our activities are purely that of the man or woman of the world who has … takes responsibilities and family situations, and earns money, and has to do house chores or whatever it takes to build, let’s say, the support system that makes it possible to survive on planet Earth.
And then, however, Christ said, “They are in the world but not of the world.” Now, that’s a very interesting distinction. So then, he made a very clear distinction between those who being in the world, however, were not of the world. So, I suppose that means that one does the things one needs to do to survive, and so on—responsibility. The same time one is following a path which is … which the Sufis call the path of saintlihood. As a matter of fact, the Sufis make this distinction between the path of prophethood and the path of saintlihood. There’s a very rather well-known now talk between a Muslim mullah and dervish, and the mullah was reprimanding the dervish for not wearing cotton because he was supposed to … supposed to follow the example of Mohammed, who was wearing clothes in the fashion of the day, which was cotton, was fashionable in those days and wool is, you know, is for the poor. So he said, “No, I am following the example of Jesus.” And so, of course, from the orthodox point of view that might have been very, appear very shocking: he’s a Muslim and he’s following the way of Jesus.
Well, you see, in those days in those countries, the Christians were … all that was known of Christianity was that there were some monks in the desert who wore wool, and they were poor. And so what he was saying is, I’m following the path…. Oh, yes. Yeah, that’s right. And you see, according to the Sufis then, while in … according to Islam, Mohammed is the Seal of the Prophets, Khatam rasul lillah; Jesus is the is the seal of the saints, Khatam al-auliya. And if you study the works of Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan, you notice that he speaks about three lineages: one being the lineage of the prophets, the other that of the masters and that … and the third one being that of the saints. So the way of the Prophet Mohammed was he was giving instructions to people about, well, rather fundamental modes of behavior in everyday life. He was like a reformer. It’s very, I think it’s very hygienic to wash one’s hands at least, and feet at least five times a day if one is walking barefooted. And it’s good for arthritis if you bow several times a day. Keep your line within trim. So those are … there were some very fundamental things that were, you know, like people must take punishment for their acts, must take responsibility for their acts and so on, but they’re rather a very fundamental thing.
Whereas, the path of the saints was the path of selflessness. And for the Muslims, of course, Christ was the example of selflessness, the path of the saints. And so the Sufis were those who were following the path of selflessness, of the selfless, which is the way of the hermit. Well, it’s the way of the saint, of course. So, that is a criterion, whether one can pursue whatever one needs to pursue in one’s life while at the same time finding a way of being selfless without allowing people to abuse of one’s kindness to … which is bad for them and that … for one, of course, which is a fine line.
Then of course, is the way of the knight which is definitely standing to protect the weak against the abuse of the strong. Or to redress any injustice, and that is, of course, the way of dedication to service. So that’s again, some question you might ask yourselves in your life: just how much in your life do you attribute to this to an action in service of humanity? It’s a very definite question one can ask: “Well I’m … it’s true that I’m doing a lot of work in order to be able to sustain myself and others and so on, so forth. But then what am I doing for, for example, the prisoners of conscience? What am I doing, for example, for the homeless? What am I doing for…?” And so on, so forth. It’s incredible [the] number of cases where our mercy is being called for and we pass by without doing anything about it.
Now there’s a very interesting connection between this kind of dedication to service and the acquisition of that knowledge that we’re talking about, which is the way of the initiate. The arif— the initiate— is in the search of understanding. It’s our birthright. It’s part of the evolutionary process that we should become more and more aware, and more realized. So you would have thought that this path is … doesn’t have anything to do with the path of service. But, just like in Hinduism, you have jnana yoga and karma yoga. But it does, and the relationship is this and that is that…. Well, of course, perhaps you remember … I don’t know whether you all were present when I told … I have told this story many times of the … Ganj-e-Shakar, and he was ascribed divine powers and people came to him for help. And this man came to him asking for help because he didn’t have a job and he had to look after his old mother and, well, he said, how much money do you have? And give it to the poor … and then after one week, he found a marvelous job. He always ascribed it to Ganj-e-Shakar. And then this man came who wanted money for himself, and Ganj-e-Shakar said, well, say a few prayers and nothing happened. And the reason was, he said that in the first case, this man wanted help to help someone else. And therefore he could help him to help someone else. The second one wanted help for himself. And he said if I use this power to help myself it won’t work. I can only use it to help someone else, and even to help someone else to help someone else. And what is more, that second man thought it was my power and that if I asked him to say certain prayers … but since he doesn’t believe in God, it didn’t help. So this … what this story is telling us is that there is a power that is gained by selflessness. But the correlate of this is that there is a knowledge that can be only acquired if one’s motivations are unselfish. And that’s the reason why intuition cannot be used for selfish motives. Because it would be like trying to rob a secret that is only revealed to one in the measure of one’s readiness to receive it.
In fact, Niffari, who was a dervish who lived in the desert and occasionally came to visit his daughter and son-in-law, and he used to say weird things nobody seemed to understand, that what he was saying really is that—he calls it Mawaqif and Mukhatabat—he says that we’re going through life … as we go through life we pass through different maqam, which means stages. And perhaps you might be aware of this, that in your life at certain times, certain qualities are particularly important for you. For example, there might be a time when knowledge is important, there might be a time that compassion is important, might be time that truthfulness is important, time that joy is important, time that peace is important to you. You go through different maqam, different stages in your life. And each one corresponds to … something is revealed to you of the importance of something that didn’t seem to be quite important to you before—it’s revealed to you. And what Niffari is saying is that one is … one remains in waiting at the threshold until one is ready to be revealed the next stage. And so many of us spend a lot of time at the threshold of the temple not entering the temple. So as I say, intuition isn’t something one can grasp. It’s something that one has to wait, well, wait patiently. One has to prepare oneself, be very clear as to one’s motivations, and purify one’s heart so that one is ready to receive the intuition. So, that would be the way of the initiate.
The way the hermit is, of course, it is withdrawal from life. It has the advantage of curing one of one’s pain. Unless it’s just an escape from pain, but there are times in one’s life when one needs to go through what in our modern days is called therapy, and to deal with one’s pain. And those are the moments when I find that the way of the hermit, that we could illustrate by Buddhism, comes in very handy. It’s … the key to it is to be found in these words of Buddha himself, when he said that you unclutch the … how could one call it? …. the stump of one’s … of your being away from the trunk. Let’s say … I better say this more clearly. Imagine a tree, you’ve cut the tree down to its stump, and it grows again. And, well, is it the same tree? Another tree? It may look very different. So then you … there’s an aspect of yourself that is much more fundamental than the other aspect that you could call your personality. And so if you’re in pain, it is your … it is at the level of the personality, let’s say, that part of yourself that is represented by the trunk of the tree or the branches of the stem, or the root. Now, if you unclutch the stump of your being from its … from all that has grown out of it, in other words, you get in touch with your real being, it’s a magical cure for pain. It’s extraordinary, it really works. That’s the only way to do it. You get to a point when you say, “Oh, people can do what they like, can’t touch me, they can’t affect me.” Because in that, there’s a strength in that stump that is not to be found in the branches and the leaves. So the leaves fall apart and so on. Branches may die, but there’s some resilience in that trunk of your being, and so the ascetic in you is there. It’s to be found in your peacefulness, your immunity, in your integrity. In your aversion to mundanity is the word, to worldliness, to profanity, to vulgarity. That is what you find as you turn within, as you turn within the temple, keep going deeper within. You discover the hermit in you. And that’s why, of course, the way of the Buddha was the way of the hermit. And it has its place, a part to play in our lives.
Now there’s the way of the priest. The way the priest, as I said, you … it’s … you cannot disconnect it, of course, the whole, I would say, well, the word is realization of God. Now in this respect, Pir-O-Murshid has some very, very clear ideas about this. You .. I suppose you have come across those arguments of commonplace minds who say, “Oh, you believe in God? Oh, really? You must be very naive. I mean, how do you … either He is all-powerful … well, if He’s all-powerful, then how does He allow things to happen the way they do? And if He’s compassionate, well, then how does He allow things to happen as they do? So, what … you know, why do you …. it’s really … actually, it’s really very naive to believe in God.” That’s the sort of ordinary kind of mentality that you find amongst people. We all have a bit of that doubt in ourselves too. Well, one would really have to go in deeply into Murshid’s teaching to find the tremendous help that accrues from being very clear about this. First of all, he said, “Do not confuse your concept of God with God.” We’re always saying, “God this and God that.” We think it’s God but it’s our concept of God. We must be very clear about it. And that is particularly important when one starts saying, “God told me to do this, or God told me to do that.” We have our projections, our mind projections. It’s very, very dangerous. There are cases of people killing someone because they said God told me to kill so-and-so. Can be very dangerous.
But then of course, it’s true, as he said, if you start speaking about God, well then people say, “Well, what do you mean by God?” And so we can understand that the prophets and teachers of the past used to try and convey some kind of metaphor that would illustrate what they mean. Or they would say like it’s a Sphinx. Well, of course, the Sphinx gives a sense of immutability against all the disturbance around, and so on. Or then, it’s like the king. So there again, you have the idea of some great power, and so on. So whatever description is given is just a help in order to assuage the needs of people to understand what they can’t understand anyway. Then at a certain stage, Murshid says, “Instead of believing in God, you actually experience God.” And that’s the threshold between the common mentality and mysticism. And what does that mean to … actually, he said experience or see God … what does he mean by that? Well, to interpret what the Sufis are saying, one grasps that which transpires behind that which appears. Because if you try to judge by what you see, then, of course, there’s no way of believing in God. If you begin to…. Of course, the scientists recently have been through a lot of statements by a very well-known great scientists about their meaning of God. They never cease to be amazed by the intelligence with which everything is organized. It’s so amazing they feel that they are in the presence of a miracle. They’re in a sense of awe and reverence confronted with what they discover. So that is that what transpires behind that which appears. Now, it’s not always easy to see what Pir-O-Murshid called the hand of God, because things happen, incongruous things happen, where one feels one has been let down by God, or other people have been let down by God. And you know, the brute triumphs, and the saintly one is victimized, and so on, so it’s very difficult to understand all of that.
Then the next stage is where you start discovering the Divine inheritance in yourself. So it’s not looking outside, but looking inside. And then, of course, one will never cease to be amazed by what one discovers within oneself, the things that one never thought one had. And so much of the work of the Sufis consists in just this discovery. And by discovering it one is able to make it happen, or by making it happen, one is discovering it, because there’s always a relationship between knowledge and doing. There’s a knowledge that comes by doing; not just doing as a result of knowledge, but the other way around.
But then the great moment comes when Pir-O Murshid said, “God awakens in one’s being.” Now that’s a very important stage, when you are not just discovering something that lays latent within your being, and which is trying to manifest, but you discover that it is really awakening in you. You’re not discovering it, it’s awakening. That is the kind of thing that, for example, Catholics were trying to convey when people, having had communion, move back to their seats as I described a little earlier. They feel that something is awakening, that the Divine Being is in some way much more vivid in them than ever before. The feeling of harboring something sacred within oneself that is becoming more and more lively, more and more real. The power that comes from that is just incredible. It accounts for the power of the dervish. The confidence that you have when not only you have been able to earmark the traces of the defining features in yourself, albeit, of course, distorted. But still, the traces are there. But then, to actually see that these are live forces that are awakening and unfolding in your being without you’re trying to do it. That is a great clue because, you see, in our work there are many of the members of the Sufi Order here and, of course, we are working with wazifas, that is, drawing our attention to a particular quality. But there is always a danger that we try to develop a quality that we think is there rather than facilitate the divine operation upon us. So it’s not, it’s not our own effort that does it. But it is not either that we become totally passive toward the Divine operation, but we facilitate the divine operation. That’s very important. That’s again the High Virgins preparing the way—something to do…. [End side A of recording.]
[Begin side B of recording] … which he describes as God-realization, when one could say that the sense of the unity behind everything has become so strong that, for example … I’ll give you an example. For example, you’re walking in the streets. This happened to me after a retreat, I think it was in India, in Ajmer. We were walking in the streets, and normally you would see a lot of people rushing about. But now you see that those people are really the cells of one Being. So it’s just a different perspective. So that will give you some idea as to what one means by God-realization.
Now, then we come across the real metaphysical crunch and that’s where, like, if one says, “Well, yes, well, of course, I mean, what I mean by God is that, of course, it’s the whole universe is … I mean, the physical universe is the body of a being and, of course, that being is endowed with a mind, and intention, and emotions, and so on. So for me that’s God, right.” And then one is … feels that one has just found the answer now, that’s it, that’s God. Until one realizes that, of course, once again, one is projecting one’s anthropomorphical concept of God upon the universe. And that is the reason why there’s always been this theological and metaphysical problem about the dichotomy between the concept of God as immanent and the concept of God as transcendent. The Sufis get very close to this. For example, I mean, Pir-O-Murshid does. Ibn Arabi, when he says, “Since everything is one, well, of course, you are the being of God,” you see. And then, of course, people get shocked and say, “Well, how can you say a thing like that?” “And a person is not God.” And Al-Hallaj was crucified because he said “Ana ‘l-Haqq.” And then Ibn Arabi, realizing the enormity of what he was saying said, “Know whereby you are God and know whereby you’re not God.” So then, well, then what is it? Oh, we won’t enter into that. Murshid says it very beautifully when he says, you know, a drop of the sea. Well, it’s of the nature of the sea, but still, it’s not the sea, but it is of the nature of the sea, so it’s not different from the sea. So, our minds will never understand that but at least….
When we discover the priest in us, in ourselves, then we realize that it is not good enough to have theories about what we mean. Well, first of all, we realize that our job, our mission, is to enlist the sacred. And that means to awaken in oneself and amongst other people the sense of the Divine. And one realizes that one comes across the inadequacies of one’s mind, and consequently one begins to realize that the only way in which one can serve this, let’s say, at the altar, is to really, well, to complete these stages, you see. That is the … first of all, the ability to convey some idea of what one means by The Divine while realizing that it could never convey it. And secondly, by always being aware of that which transpires behind that which appears. And then finally, discovering the traces, the word is ayat, the signs. You see the signs of the Divine Being within one’s own nature. And then finally, letting this awaken in one. And then, I think that the later stage of God-realization is, yeah, of course, it’s indescribable. But it’s though we have those moments. We may be gifted, granted with those moments when all of a sudden our perspective all of a sudden shifts from the usual perspective of the world into a whole different dimension. And we find ourselves in a state of ecstasy. Those are the great moments.
The word extasis—ecstasy—extasis, Latin, means beyond the station. So that means beyond the maqam, the states in which one … that one goes through. Now, what the Upanishad says is that it passes before you realize that it was there, so that one would like to hang on to one’s experience of ecstasy, or try to find it again, and of course there’s no way in which one can do this. Just like the bluebird: you try to catch it and [it] flies further and further away. Turn away and it flies … it follows you. And it seems to me that, obviously there’s some validity in our wish to reach beyond the beyond. And so that I think one needs to go through these stages one by one again, go back to the stages right from the beginning and experience them fully. I think the reason why we … that moment our ecstasy is so short lived is because it immediately … it’s too powerful for our vulnerable nature to be able to contain or to withstand. And that’s why the Sufis say that one is in a state of fana, which means the annihilation of one’s … one is absolutely shattered by the discovery.
So, rather than trying to hold it, the attitude that is fostered by the Sufis is let yourself be shattered by it. And also let yourself be reinstated by it. The two words of fana and baka. We all know this. We are more familiar with being shattered than with being reinstated, but both of them need to balance each other so that every time that one is shattered by an event or situations that are overwhelming, one needs to honor the breakthrough of a new potentiality in one’s being. It’s like the passage, the threshold, from one state to another—new beginning. The other reason for … against … well, why we can’t hold this so long is because it does affect our ego in the form of what is called sanctimoniousness. So that what happened as a real spontaneous experience eventually becomes self-destructive and self-defeating—sanctimoniousness. And that is, of course, worsened by … when the Spirit is institutionalized, then, of course, the sanctimoniousness have … becomes a social trip, and what was just the ego satisfaction [of] one person becomes the ego satisfaction of a whole group of people, then becomes … can be really devastating.
So now is it possible, then, to be very deeply sanctified, to feel sanctified by religious experience and at the same time to play the game of the children of the world without any pretense? That is what we are being tested in. Now, we find that particularly true with the leaders in our groups. It’s so difficult to be able to reconcile a sense of, how can I say, of the statute … the status that one derives from the sense of sacredness with an egoless way of handling problems. So, I’m saying this at this moment because I feel that many of you are beginning to … are having an experience of the sacredness in your being. And we have difficulty now in translating it in terms of how we build a bridge between this and our worldly … our way of handling situations in the world.
This leads us towards the Sufi meditations. I would call them meditating downwards instead of upwards. Perhaps if you look at some of the pictures of Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan you see that he’s looking down from high up. And most of us meditating, we think that we have to … we’re trying to reach upwards.
Now, this is fostered by the whole Sufi way of looking at things, as I said. It’s never the subject who knows, it’s never the subject who can reach up, it[‘s] never the subject who gets in contact with God. Never. It’s always the opposite. That is the principal. God knows Himself through us. God actuates himself through us or as us. God acts upon us, who are His actuation, and so on. It’s always the other way around. So, there are two ways of doing it. One [would] be to just consider yourself passive with regard to the Divine action. That would be the simplistic way of doing it. But one’s still in the state of duality. And that’s why, rather than saying, “I am the eyes through which God sees,” you must think, “I am the Divine glance,” that has become limited, focalized, distorted, all you like. But not say, “I am the means.” And that’s the reason why Ibn Arabi says, “He is both the seer, and that through which He sees,” or, “the eyes through which He sees.” So … see, in our sense of, I suppose it’s false humility, I don’t know what it is, but we tend to say … we establish an artificial barrier between God and ourselves. There’s God and there’s us and we are the instrument through which God … and so on so forth, and we [are] very happy that we think that way because we feel that that’s the gauge of our humility. But one is not … the Sufis say one is not honoring God by denigrating oneself.
So could you just, for this last meditation, could you just … well, why don’t you just stretch a little bit, because I think everyone , because everyone….and lack air in this hall…
Meditate downwards. That is, imagine that you’re looking downwards. If you could try to imagine that your glance is the Divine glance that has become focalized. And so it’s like a funnel. It’s funneled down.
And now think of a particular problem, like one of your own problems, for example. And you realize that what one is generally trying to do is one is trying to figure it out. One is trying to make sense of it. Sometimes totally flummoxed by it. One is using one’s interpretive mind. Now, supposing that we do … so that means that one is caught up in one’s personal vantage point. And one is trying to sort things out from that vantage point. That vantage point can never give one a solution because it is just a vantage point. If you see a house from a certain vantage point, you haven’t seen it; you’ve only seen it from that vantage point. So alright, now, supposing that you give up that way of trying to understand your problem. And you start thinking that, indeed, you are casting light upon the problem. That your intelligence is the Divine Intelligence—has been funneled down, as I say—and is thrusting light upon the problem.
It would be like, supposing that you had visited a building, and now you visit the building accompanied by the architect. And the architect is telling you what he or she had in mind, why he or she did this or that or the other thing. Now you’re beginning to understand it. So, you couldn’t figure it out totally with your mind. So now you’re looking at it from the vantage point of the builder. Now look at your problems that way, instead of trying to figure them out. And that does not mean to try and figure out the reason why things happened the way they did. But rather, what is gained by this rather regrettable situation? What is enacted behind the scene of the trauma? The qualities that you are developing, or the insight that you’re developing, or the lesson that it is for the other person or for yourself—whatever it is. Try to see, rather than the facts, realization, qualities, insight, power, the truth coming out. Just assume that one is biased if one is trying to … one tries to understand things from one’s personal vantage point one is biased.
What Al-Hallaj says is that the Divine Understanding can descend from its transcendent pinnacle and shatter your understanding, and replace it by a flash of the Divine Understanding. So, it can come as a flash. All of a sudden you see something that you hadn’t seen before. That happens when your own understanding has become shattered. You’ll also see that knowing the problem from your personal vantage point, you had circumscribed it within a narrow range. And when you let the Divine Understanding shatter your understanding, all of a sudden you see the infinite ramifications, connotations, implications of the … elements of the problem … elements that are intertwined in the problem, on a vast scale—in fact, in infinite regress. Because you’re not referring the problem just to your personal self anymore. [It] involves other people, and still other people, and principles that are being enacted on the planet this moment—enormous implications.
How about gauging the problem in terms of emotion rather than in terms of concepts? What are the emotions involved in the problem?
Now you could even make a further step, and that is: What are the principles involved?
[It] might be helpful, those of you who are familiar with the different wazifas—wazaif is the correct word for the plural of wazifa—to assess what are the qualities that are involved in this aspect of the problem, that aspect of the problem and so on, all the implications.
And now recognize these qualities potentially latent within yourself, and see how your handling of the problem this way or that way is going to either enhance or impair the unfoldment of that quality in you.
And you can at the same time assess the sacrifice involved in a decision. There is almost invariably a sacrifice. There’s sometimes a sacrifice that one extracts from other people. And then there’s a sacrifice that one needs to pay oneself. Rather, be wary of sacrifice that you demand of other people. But this is where one can see oneself as the priest at the altar, offering the sacrifice on the altar.
When it comes down to it, of course, one realizes that this is where the crunch is: the interplay of joy and pain. And then all the different levels or dimensions of joy and pain, sacrificing a more personal joy for a more cosmic joy. And where is the pain exactly? There’s no way of figuring it out with the mind, but there can be coexistence of joy and pain at the same time.
Of course, the motto is not to make a sacrifice if one regrets it. So if one doesn’t regret it, it isn’t a sacrifice anymore.
And then perhaps you also feel the power that comes from availing yourself of your freedom, because a decision is a feature of one’s freedom.
Maybe the joy of finding one’s true self. Through one’s decision, one’s true self becomes known to one. Because that’s why what one values becomes obvious to oneself and to others.
One feels as though one were dragging one’s nature to the altar. Tremendous fight for the ascendancy of one’s higher self, over one’s lower self.
The curious thing is, as I said, there’s an … understanding comes by doing, whereas one would assume that one has to first understand for deciding what one wants to do. And so it has implications in decision making, because by taking a decision, one discovers values that were enacted in the problem that one had not seen before.
And, of course the emotions come up very strongly. In fact, this is a more realistic way of fostering ecstasy, than in just trying to reach ecstasy by one’s own will.
Faced with the reality of life.
I wonder whether you have that piece of music of the crucifixion of Christ, the Qawali. You don’t have it there do you? No. We’ll leave it for another time then. I have it but we’ll have to queue it.
… for lunch now and begin this afternoon.
[Editor’s Note: We’ve included the last few lines for archival purposes, as they provide additional context for the material and setting.]
It takes many hands and hearts at work to breathe life into the Archive Project. Our transcription workflow is still a creation in progress — to submit any corrections, please email [email protected] and note the title of the page in your message. If you would like to volunteer as a transcriber, please email [email protected] Many thanks and blessings!
thought it would be good for us to do practices once more. You see, it can’t be done with one’s will, because one’s will is, of course, linked up with one’s personal consciousness, and here one is going into an impersonal consciousness. The power that causes this shift is ecstasy. Every time that one is free from a limitation there’s a breakthrough of ecstasy, whether it is hang gliding, or listening to music that turns one on, or whether it is seeing something that one hadn’t seen before, or whether it’s forgiving someone or being forgiven, or whether it is discovering that one is free when one thought that one was bound. Any time that one is free from a constraint of any kind, there’s a breakthrough of ecstasy. And, as you know, ecstasy is the energy that brings about transformation in a human being.
So, samadhi is the expression of our need to free ourselves from constraint, from the constraint of the self image, from the constraint of the personal vantage point, from the conditioning of the environment, from one’s assessment, of course, of one’s situations, from one’s assessment of the physical universe. So, it is the way of moksha, which means freedom. That’s why it is pursued in India, and it is the way of the sannyasin. The sannyasin is someone who has, according to the tradition, who has lived and fulfilled his or her life, to the age of 60, for example, and has a grown-up child who can take over the piece of land to cultivate it further, and therefore has contributed to life now and up to the present, and can now retire and discover what Hazrat Inayat Khan calls another kingdom, what Christ calls another kingdom. So, remember that it is your nostalgia for freedom that will carry you.
The first thing that one does is what we did this morning. It is to withdraw from the impact of the environment—turning within. But then, further, to withdraw from the impact of the thoughts, the concepts. And the best way to do that is to “de-validate” our personal thinking; to realize it is limited, and therefore not absolute—relative. I don’t say it’s wrong, it’s just limited. And, perhaps, a deeper thing is, of course, to find … to … let’s say, to liberate ourselves from our storms in our teacups. And once more realize that they are due to the fact that one is assessing things from one’s personal vantage point, and that things are not the way they appear. And as soon as one does that, one finds relief from one’s chagrin and pain. One finds freedom from emotion. It’s ecstasy. It’s bliss, rather than what one understands by emotion.
Now, one is discovering one’s … remember this, that it’s the idea that “I am an entity” that stands in the way of this experience. That’s the reason for the anahata teaching of Buddha. There is no “entity.” It is all … it’s the same thing as the Sufi Zikr—it’s all one being. There is no “entities” there. You know, it appears as though there were fragmentation, but ultimately it’s all one. So, that is a way of … to overcome this idea of separateness. One … just think that you are the Nameless, and the Formless, and the Timeless and the Spaceless. And Spaceless does not mean infinite, but that means that you … while some aspects of your body are space-like, you exist, ultimately, irrespective of location in space. You have an existence which is not definable in terms of space. And that does not mean that you’re lifting your consciousness upwards, because that’s … there’s no up and down, because there’s no space. Space is only relative to the concentration of mass, matter, otherwise it collapses.
So just imagine that space collapses now, but the only way to do that is to shift your consciousness from “body-ness,” and try to recall … it’s like the rebirthing practices, which consist in the regression in time. So, think of, like, you’ve always existed, since the beginning of time. But, of course, that’s the way of thinking, but, in fact, that beginning of time is still now. There are two dimensions of time.
And that all these things have accumulated, like your personality. You’ve borrowed that from your parents. Now where before that there was some personality that you had acquired, some heritage, inheritance, that you’d acquired through the angels. But all these are things that have accumulated. But now you are … kind … I can’t say that you’re stripping yourself of those … body, and so on and so forth, personality … no, but you’re shifting your consciousness to earmark what is essentially you, behind all that has accrued to you in the course of time.
And you have a feeling of awakening from your personal perspective. You think, how is it possible that I thought that I was caught up in this, and I thought that I was this, and I thought this was happening, and I thought I was what I thought I was, and so on. You awaken from that. And the way to awaken is to think, “Oh, that’s just the way things looked, and I was caught in a perspective.” Just like when you go to sleep you’re awakening from a perspective—changing perspective.
That’s the meaning of maya. It doesn’t mean that physical matter doesn’t exist, it just means that it’s not what it seems to be, which is what, exactly what, quantum physics is saying. But it’s also what you thought you were as a person, your self image. “That’s what I thought I was.” You suddenly discover a whole dimension of your being which has always existed, and you had forgotten that.
And that eternal aspect of yourself is very impersonal. It’s like, it is the reality behind all that appears. And it is sublime. And it is pure splendor. It is that which is trying to transpire behind you’re … through your personality, but doesn’t quite make it. And that’s what you’ve always been: beyond time. Your personality is just like the body of Edgar Mitchell. It was constricting him. Personality is also like a straitjacket that is constricting one’s being. Pulling one, pushing one, constraining one.
And at last you can really be yourself. You don’t have to put on a mask, or a show, or live up to expectations. In fact, your real being is much more beautiful than anything you could put on in your personality. But it’s not like the personality. It’s not like idiosyncrasies, as we call them. It’s like the quintessence. It’s like a pure essence. Can’t define it. Can’t categorize it.
But be careful not to attribute too much “I-ness” to this discovery of the essence of yourself. That’s where we have to be careful. I have always existed, yes, but not as what I used to think myself to be, like, that personality. It’s like the trunk of the tree, as I said—impersonal. So, think of, for example, one does never say, one should not say, Siddhartha or Gautama, but one says the Tathāgata. It means the one who has become impersonal. So, think of yourself as impersonal. The word “I” does not mean what it meant before. There is peace rather than personal satisfaction. And there is harmony rather than strife.
Now you could draw your memory right back to (this is a metaphor, of course, but, it’s helpful) to the time prior to the Big Bang, like when there was not a physical universe. That’s the reason why it’s in metaphors that we’re thinking, in terms of the arrow of time, whereas, there’s another dimension of time, which is still now. And you’re awakening in the night of time, beyond the dream of the present. And even universes could be born, and universes could be dislocated, and new universes could be born, and you remain unscathed, but not individual, individualized, throughout the whole process. You have freely extricated yourself from your existential condition. And experience what it’s like to not have a body, or what it would be like. And even not be battered by one’s personal thoughts, but thinking universally.
Let’s discard personal thought as being, denigrate them as being, devalidate them, as being only a relatively valid, like just, personal vantage point. Then, all of a sudden, you get into the thinking of the universe.
There are two steps here. There’s the thinking of the universe and there’s the thinking of which the universe is the expression. The first one is cosmic. The second is transcendent. Like, for example, the thinking of a tree, and the thinking of a butterfly, and the thinking of a hawk, and the thinking of a whale, and the thinking of an atom, and the thinking of a galaxy. That would be the cosmic dimension of thinking. And one has access into that thinking by what we did this morning, turning within.
But now, we’re working with transcendence, and so it is the thinking that has materialized as the universe. It’s like the software that has materialized into the hardware. You are experiencing the hardware and now you look at the hardware as just a manifestation of what you’re grasping now, which is a software—the intention behind it all. And remember that your mind is completely … is not just a fraction of that thinking, it is that thinking, limited and distorted, and so on, but still is that thinking. Oh, this is a level of experience that I described yesterday, when quoting St. Francis, where he said, “That which sees, is that which is seen.” In scientific terms, the physical world is isomorphic with our mind … has the same form, has the same structure as our mind. That’s why we understand it.
The brain has somewhat the structure of the mind, and, therefore, it’s a good tool for the mind. The hardware of the computer, has something of the nature of the programming, otherwise, it would not serve. So, this is self-discovery instead of discovery of other-than-oneself.
Remember that consciousness gets resorbed in its ground, which is intelligence. There was a word of Hazrat Inayat Khan that illustrates this. He said, “The object of consciousness limits consciousness.” Consciousness is limited by it’s object. So, when you’re thinking of an object or of a thought, that thought limits your consciousness. That’s why we are questioning the validity of our thinking, as we know how limiting the mind is. And so, we reach into a place where we’re thinking beyond the mind, or we’ve (?) the thinking beyond the limitation of mind. We are the thinking that is beyond the limitation of the mind.
And that is the meaning of chit in Sanskrit, which means pure intelligence, and it’s the same thing as aqil in the Sufi terminology, which means pure intelligence. That’s what I am, not a consciousness. Beyond that, I am pure intelligence, pure insight, pure realization. That’s what I am.
You think you are perceiving objects? You’re projecting the light of your intelligence upon the intelligence that manifests as the object. It’s a communion. It’s a self discovery, an act of self discovery. You’re discovering yourself in the object, you’re not perceiving the object. Hazrat Inayat Khan again: “Light that we thrust on an object is more important than the light that is thrust by the object upon us.”
In the act of consciousness one is perceiving, in the act of intelligence, one is self-discovering. When you’re overlooking the universe, you’re an overview; you are consciousness. When you grasp meaningfulness, irrespective of the universe, then there’s no consciousness. It’s just an act of intelligence, “intellig-ing” itself. The word of Aristotle is intelligence “intelliging” itself. That’s that higher knowledge that the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad speaks, when it says, where there’s duality, one sees, the other one smells, the other one hears, the other one understands, the other (?) become one. Of what kind of understanding are we talking about? That’s aqil, the direct act of knowledge without the intermediary of the physical, the physical universe, a kind of pre-knowledge. So, it’s not the input processing from information one is receiving from the environment, but the light that one is casting upon objects.
Okay now, beyond this, there is something further, and that is, the emotion that has become the universe. And that’s the ultimate samadhi, beyond intelligence … the emotion that became the Mass of Bach, or the emotion that became a symphony of Brahms. It started with emotion. The universe started with emotion, and then became worked out with a great acumen and “ingenuosity” … ingenuity, but, originally, pure emotion. And that is what the Sufis call ishq. Emotion that became, that manifested as objects, as events, as landscapes, as creatures. So, once more, it’s not the emotion of the butterfly, or of the caterpillar, or of the hawk, or of the tree, or of the flower. No, it is the emotion that became the hawk, or became the caterpillar, or became the butterfly, or became the crystal, or the atom, or the galaxy, or that manifested as such.
There’s a difference between cosmic emotion and transcendent emotion. And again, it’s not a matter of perceiving that emotion; it’s realizing that one is that emotion. And the ultimate (?), the ultimate strata of one’s being, that’s what one is. Let’s say, the creative emotion. One’s personality is the expression of that emotion. One’s body is the expression of that emotion. It’s true one has borrowed from one’s parents and so on but … features and so on, but the whole of one’s being is permeated by the emotion that becomes the universe.
Okay, now we’re going to reverse things and get into the second awakening. It’s again a rebirthing experience like, do you remember having been born, having been born out of the act of glorification of an angel who tried to express his/her glorification in that music, piece of music that you are? Being thought of, you see, instead of being the one who thinks. Imagine that you are thought of, that you were born out of being thought of. Just like a piece of music is thought of, or “felt of” it’s better, instead, of course, than “thought of.” The expression of a prayer, of an act of glorification, and then you were born out of that. You’re … that’s what you are.
According to the Sufis, you, one, exists in the mind of God. What Al Hallaj says is, referring to a very wonderful meditation that he made, in the beginning of time God started to discover the qualities within His being. And every time that He, let’s say, earmarked a particular quality, that quality became actuated as a being. And so, we are the beings that are born, out of the act of auto-contemplation or auto-discovery, whereby God discovered Himself through us. Through actuating Himself in us, as us. (?) a different way of looking at oneself, and that is, of course, Sufism. It’s always a permutation of terms. Like, God knows Himself through us, inasmuch as we know of ourselves through Him. That’s a permutation of terms, two complimentary terms. We always think of just we knowing God, you see, and the Sufi always takes the opposite view, like, it’s God who knows Himself through us.
It’s our limitation that makes us always think of things from our vantage point. The Sufi overcomes that. How would it be from the Divine point of view? Well, from the Divine point of view, we are the ones in which He sees Himself, He discovers Himself. So, if you could regress your memory right back, right back to that point in time, which as I say, it’s not necessarily thinking in terms of reversing the arrow of time, but, as I say, that … to at least two dimensions of time, so one is getting from transiency into eternity, or, into “trans-temporality,” the better term than “eternity.” One returns to that state, alpha state, where God was, let’s say God … a lot of people have a kind of block about using the word God, so, one could say that we’re the hidden treasure that became the Being of Glory…that is becoming in us, the Being of Glory, and Majesty and Splendor … was discovering Himself … the Hidden Treasure was discovering Itself, if you like, by proliferating and actuating Itself.
If you can get back to that early time, in the night of time, and then proceed along the arrow of time, then … and even around … along the other arrow of time which is from “trans-historicity” into “historicity,” then, you will experience what the Sufis call Tannazulat, which is your descent through the spheres, angelic spheres, jinn spheres. And through each sphere you have been acquiring something of the fabric of the sphere that you’ve been passing through. A sphere of light, and you acquire the aura. Now, again I’m speaking in metaphor, but it’s the only way to speak. And then, descending upon the physical plane, you have borrowed the body made of the fabric of the planet through your parents. So, at each stage one has … something more has accrued to ones being, like the car that got the snow and the dust and so on. ? car, I mean, you’re still that original being that has some … accumulated so many ? of, whatever one can call it, a fabric, if you like … coming down, incarnating, permeating the flesh, transforming the flesh, leaving one’s mark on the flesh, it’s hallmark on the flesh, like the smile that transforms the flesh of the face. One is acting upon matter by sheer attunement of one’s soul.
And now, what happens to consciousness in the meantime? As one has … originally it was a Divine Consciousness in all it’s all-encompassing breadth and now, of course, it’s been polarized, focalized, and therefore limited as it comes down. And it’s still the same consciousness, but it’s been limited. It’s been like passing through a funnel … I mean … well, focalization is the same thing. So, something had to be … had to give. It’s not possible to have all that, that is at the top of the funnel, in the small end of the funnel. So, it’s squeezed in … it’s … something is … has to give. And still one is the Divine Consciousness. And this is very important. This is the second awakening. Instead of thinking of yourself as being the eyes through which God sees, the instrument of a higher consciousness, realize that you are the Glance. It is … you are that consciousness, you’re not the instrument. Ibn ‘Arabi said one day, “the instrument is also that which it manifests, or conveys.”
You are the Divine Glance. The word that’s used by the Sufis is SHA-ANAZ (?) : I am the Divine Glance. You walk through the streets, and aware that you’re casting the light of the Divine Glance upon all beings and upon all things. That’s the meaning of illumination … not just the light, but the awareness, or the realization. Divine Realization is being projected by you upon all beings. And the second thing is, that you are also the Divine Nature, that has become distorted and limited, and so on, but it’s still the Divine Nature. For example, a drop of water of the ocean, well, it’s got the nature of the ocean. It’s not just different from the ocean, it is the ocean. except that it’s only a drop instead of the ocean, but it’s still … it has all the nature of the ocean. And so, you are not the instrument through which the Divine Nature manifests, you are the Divine Nature that has become limited. You are also the instrument, of course, if you like. This a the Sufi view, and this is awakening in life. I am the Divine Consciousness. I am the Divine Nature. I am the Divine Presence. Those are the three.
God speaking, “I have become in the consciousness … no … yes … I have become in the consciousness of every being, the subject of my self-discovery, and, I have become in the nature of ever being, the object of my self-discovery.” I’ll say that again. God speaking … let’s say, if you don’t like the word God, let us say the Hidden Treasure, that is, the Unknown Mystery. The Cloud of Unknowing has become, in the consciousness of every being, the subject of His self-knowledge, and, in the nature of every being, the object of His self-knowledge.
And, what is much more difficult to follow … instead of trying to experience the Divine Presence, you realize that you are the Divine Presence. And that is a word that is very difficult to to understand altogether, because it’s not the qualities. That’s the manifest. That’s what manifests—different forms, qualities, forms. The Presence can never be reduced to qualities. When you love a person, you want the presence of that person, whatever be the qualities of that person —Presence that is important. You have the Divine Glance, you have the Divine Nature, you have the Divine Presence. Instead of withdrawing from the world, you would realize the importance of threading the Divine Consciousness, through your … in such a way that you allow the full blast of that Divine Consciousness to come forth. That’s not by thinking of yourself as the instrument, that’s by thinking of yourself as that Divine Glance that you’ve been limiting. But now you don’t want to limit it anymore, and therefore it becomes overwhelmingly bright.
And secondly, what I thought were my qualities, they’re the divine qualities that are delimited, but still…. And there we have the model of the king or the queen. It has become rather outdated. And I’m talking not about the hereditary king, but the … or queen … but the real “king-liness” or “queen-liness” that is latent within each one of us. That’s a divine inheritance and can become formidable, in a being who is aware of the Divine Inheritance.
I’ll tell you a story. Zeus was … the son of Zeus … you know Zeus is God, the Greek, for God, out of which came the word Deus. And Zagreus is a son of Zeus, the Son of God. And when God … there’s a story … goes that … when God took a leave from his throne for a few minutes, the Son of God, Zagreus, sat on the throne, to see what it was like, and the Titans presented him with a mirror. And when he discovered the features of his father in his face, he was so overwhelmed, that the Titans took advantage of that to catapult him down into the abyss, and they tore him to pieces. So they devoured the son of God. And when Zeus came back—Zeus is Jupiter—when he came back, he quashed them with his, his thunder, thunder bolt, and human beings are born out of the of the cinders of the Titans. The Titans had devoured the son of God, and so, the humans inherit the nature of God that was transmitted by the son of God to the Titans. You see something of the origin of Christianity in that, dont you? And, of course, this is the essence of what we’re doing. We discover … you see, the inheritance … you are not the instrument through which the inheritance is coming. You are the inheritance. So we are the Divine Being, that has become mutilated, and lacerated, and fragmented and all that, but it’s still the Divine Being. Let’s say, you take one … one cell of the body, and it has within it the possibility of becoming a whole body.
Think of yourself as being potentially the Being of God. That is the most secret of all doctrines, the most dangerous, the most outrageous, of all doctrines. People have been burnt at the stake for less. And of course, have been burnt at the stake for just affirming that they are the Being of God. People have been enclosed in insane asylums for saying that. And the fact is, that’s the ultimate truth.
“I really don’t believe it.” And it’s because we don’t believe it that we are not it—that we don’t manifest it. We don’t believe in ourselves. And when we do, or those who do, become like kings and queens, and that’s in the Sufi tradition. The real purpose of human being is to become like a king or a queen. That’s what the dervish becomes. And that’s what the rishi becomes. And that’s what any of you could become. If you would just accept the richness of your inheritance, instead of clinging on to your personality.
You know, a good actor is not someone who’s putting on a show. A good actor is someone who believes in the qualities in his/her being, and, therefore, believing it, is able to stand there on the stage and manifest them. If you don’t believe it, you can’t be an actor. You can’t, you can’t manifest it. That’s where insight comes in. Now, I must say, I saw that in Hazrat Inayat Khan. I must say. He was just like a king. And I’ve seen that in the great beings whom I have visited. What is it that’s holding us back? False humility? Laziness? Like, it’s much easier to say, well, you know, I’m not up to all of that, you know, what Pir Vilayat I says. That’s really too far fetched. I can’t be all of that. We don’t accept our inheritance. Or we believe in it while we’re meditating, until somebody comes and starts beating us up, and then we fall back into our person consciousness again. What Christ was doing, because he was beaten up: never lost his Divine Consciousness—consciousness of the Divine Perfection, kept it up all the time, never cringed. So he was showing us how we can find a way of maintaining our Divine status, while being battered by life.
This is what Sufi meditation is about. So, you see, it’s not samadhi. In fact, although, as I say, I’m hooked on samadhi, it’s nice to be able to depart from of all this and see what’s behind the scene. But, you know, it’s like an alpha state, like, the way it was in the beginning. So, it’s interesting, but, so what? I mean, what’s happening now is much more interesting than the way it was in the beginning. And even if you get into, not quite as high as samadhi, but stop on the way, as I’ve often done, and get into the blueprints of the universe. Yeah, it’s interesting, but then, you know, the blueprint of your house is interesting only if you want to make major repairs. But otherwise, your house is much more interesting than the blueprints. So, it’s much more interesting to wake up in life than to wake up away from life. And most of the schools are still teaching one how to awaken outside life, instead of in life. Just imagine you’re fully awake, right in the middle of life. Like you’re aware of everything that is happening, like you’re aware! The Divine … you are the Divine Consciousness, peering into life, and peering into the Divine Nature which is manifesting in all creatures. It’s a wonderful state to be in. One doesn’t have to close oneself up in a cave, or in a cell, to do that. I think that that is what we’re looking for in our time.
It takes many hands and hearts at work to breathe life into the Archive Project. Our transcription workflow is still a creation in progress — to submit any corrections, please email [email protected] and note the title of the page in your message. If you would like to volunteer as a transcriber, please email [email protected] Many thanks and blessings!
Editor’s Note: This recording starts shortly after Pir Vilayat began his lecture — we have preserved the starting sentence fragments for archiving purposes.
very deep study of Sufism, and also really partaking of the essence of Sufism, or the nourishment of Sufism. Of course, one can ask oneself well, who’s interested in Sufism, or who’s interested in an “ism?” And I can say the only reason why I’m interested in Sufism is not because I was born in the Sufi tradition, but because the outlook that has emerged from my discovery of Sufism has been absolutely traumatic in molding my whole way of thinking, for the reason that in my youth I was always seeking for the hermits in the Himalayas. Somewhat it’s in my blood, of course. And I was uplifted by their presence, by their being. And then somehow I had difficulty in relating that with fulfilling one’s purpose in life. And so I was see-sawing a lot from a retreat situation to back into life again. And I used to say that one should be able to bring the ascetic attunement in the middle of life.
But I saw that it didn’t really happen like was in my mind. But there was something missing and what was missing was, that in fact there is quite the opposite outlook. Instead of reaching beyond one’s self, as I said this morning, there’s … as I said this morning, there’s meditation … meditating upwards and meditating downwards. And Sufism is of course meditating downwards–I may be overgeneralizing. And you see that in some of the photos of Murshid. He is bringing the heavenly spheres down in his being and grounding it, and existentiating it, actuating it, manifesting it.
So, what I would like to do is present rather the Sufis rather than Sufism. Now both of … I have difficulty in both words like, for example, Sufism is an “ism” and it’s the “ism” part that’s the least appealing to me. And that applies to any “ism.” And the other is the word, being a Sufi or not being a Sufi. That’s one thing that I always … that worries me a little bit or embarrasses me when somebody says, “Are you Sufi?” or “I’m a Sufi.” A label, and if there’s anything that is without label it is Sufism. So we’re attaching a label to something that is unlabelable.
In fact, the word Sufi means one who wears wool, which I’m not doing now. And nobody would pride themselves of being called wooly. But it’s a word which was used, because in the early days the ascetics … you see the Sufis were essentially, were ascetics there’s no doubt about it. And they were poor, and in those days the sheik’s were … the Muslims were conquerors and they were rich. And now again, it’s happening again, they’re conquerors of the American capital, and they’re rich, too. And so, they were wearing cotton because that was much more expensive and therefore fashionable. Whereas wool, it was just too easy to find amongst the tribes in the desert. So wool was for the poor man. So the Sufis are the poor people who wear wool. And they were the fakirs, which means poor. And they were wearing the same garmment as the Christian monks in the desert. And in those days, all that the Muslims knew of the Christians were there were some monks in the desert who were living there, like Syriac monks who were living a simple life from the desert, and they were wearing wool. So, that’s how the word came.
I know that there are other interpretations of the word, like it might have come from Sofia, which means wisdom and, well it’s rather highfaluted interpretation, but it is true that at a certain … in the year 526, when Emperor Justinian closed the new neo-Platonic school, and it’s true that, from in Greece you see, it’s true that that Damaceus and his bretheren, who are of the Platonic … neo-Platonic school, or the continuation of Plato … Plotinus, sought refuge in Iran. And so it’s true that there’s Sofia of Greece was transmitted to Iran and there was a wonderful osmosis between Zoroastrianism and and the neo-Platonic school and it is possible the word Sofia, the Sufi came from that word, too, you see. It’s all very confusing.
And other etymology is also equally convincing, and that is that the Prophet Muhammad was receiving messages you see, which he took down … I mean, somebody took down. And they wrote it on, I think it was cowhide, and that was the Quran, you see. And he disclaimed that they were his words, they were words that were coming through while he was in a very high state. And there’s Zoroastrians in Iran who are very, had a very high culture and civilization as compared to the Arabs, heard about this prophet in the desert. So much success and such a following and a whole revival of spirituality in the desert.
And they sent a great Magi–Magus–and his name was Salman, Salman Farsi. Like the three wise men who visited Christ, you know that the tradition of the Iranian Magi were very formidable, men like kings and powerful. And so Salman Farsi was on his way to rejoining Mohammed in the desert. And in those days, of course, even nowadays of course, he was captured and made prisoner and then he was sold for … the tribe of the Prophet bought him as a slave in order to … by paying a ransom in order to get him to come. It was the only way.
And so there must have been a very deep link between Salman and Mohammed. And in the end, Salman initiated the Prophet Mohammed and his daughter Fatimah and his two sons, Hassan and Hussein– it’s called a mubahala–into what I believe was the Sufi tradition that was handed down from the Zorastrian Magi. And after this, then there was a group of people who met with, the intimate group was Hazrat Ali and Salman Farsi and, well I forget now some of the other names of people who were meeting on the … in the mosque of Medina … or, next to the mosque. Now next to the mosque, there was a place where they had these low cushions around which are called sofas. And they were called the al al-safa. That means the people of the sofa. So, as you see all of these words are perfectly plausible. We have the choice between which one appeals to us most.
There’s even another one. And that is saf, which means pure. And there’s a word, the word of a confraternaty of Sufis called al al-safa , which means “the people of purity,” “the knight of purity” … out of which came the word the “knight of purity,” in fact.
And as a matter of fact, there’s some–it’s, of course, a little bit complex– but there’s some etymology, etymological link between saf and pars, out of the words which comes Parsi, the Zorastrian Parsis. Saf means pure. And you can see it in the word Parcival, the name of Parcival, who is the master–Wali–of Saf, of purity. He’s the master of purity. The fact is, of course, the Grail legends have their origin in Sufism because, I don’t know whether you know this, but there have been studies, of course, on the legends of the Grail, at least the version of Christian and … who lived in the south of France in Provence, as they call it, which was a kingdom at that time. And it’s been shown that many of the terms used were … had Iranian origin. And the fact is that at the end of the Crusades there was a greater friendship between the Christians and Muslims. They had been fighting sometimes in a treacherous way, sometimes nobly.
Like there’s a case of, if I remember well it was Richard the Lionheart and, and … was it Salman? Salman I think … forget now the name not Salman the one I’m talking about … anyway, a Muslim knight. And Richard the Lionheart lost his sword and the Muslim knight stepped off his horse and picked up the sword and gave it back to him. So there were some demonstrations of and on the other hand of great nobility So they came to regard each other very honorably. And finally there was a truce. And the Muslims and Christians met in, yeah, a place which is still in the … next to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, a big hall. And the password for meeting there was Fattah, which means “open the door.” There’s a password.
And it’s the same word that the knights used to use in order to pledge their allegiance to the sovereignty of the government of the world, spiritual government of the world. The same as were doing now in the Sufi Order. And it’s the same word that Christ used when healing a child who was born blind. He said Fattah, which means “open the door.” Now the legends of those (unknown), and meetings between Christians and Muslims were then carried through and presented from the Middle East, or the, well yes, the Middle East to Europe. The passage from the Middle East to Europe was through Sicily.
And in the 12th century, the king of Sicily was a German King. His name was Frederick the II of Hohenstaufen. He was a very wonderful initiate, a very high initiate, luminous being, very powerful, luminous and very Aryan, blonde. And he was also a great falconer and he had written a marvelous manual on falconry that has remained a classic throughout the centuries, and he lived in a castle. One of his castles was Castel Del Monte, in the south of Italy near the frontier of Sicily. And that’s where he welcomed these knights and troubadours who came from the holy land, who are telling these wonderful stories of great heroism and so on. It was like the court entertainment at the time and amongst them, they were court jesters. And there was I’m sure a lot of joy and laughter and wit and so on and wisdom sometimes behind that wit.
And this is how, as a matter of fact, the influence of Sufism spread in the South of France under the form of the Cathars. The Cathars were afterwards absolutely decimated by Philip the II, Phillip le Bel, with some connivance of the Vatican, because they were … believed in the unity of religions. And they were dedicated to service, they were healing the … healing and nursing the ill people, and they were absolutely dedicated people, wonderful people, the Cathars. They lived in caves in the south of France. And there was one time when the church came and with the help of the King of France and they killed them off like ….. That was the end of the Cathars influence.
So you see, Sufism had a lot of ramifications. And then of course, it also traveled along the path of the Muslim conquerors in Spain. And so there was a very strong influence of Sufism, in the development of mysticism in Spain, with Saint John of the Cross, and Saint Theresa of Avila. And Ramon Llull was a very good example. And Alcantara, again a mystic who spoke the language of the Sufis but a Christian mystic, but it’s as though you’re reading a Sufi book. And there was some live contacts between them. Ramon Llull was also an alchemist, and you know that alchemy was one of the strong aspects of the teaching of Sufism. That’s why we have the alchemical retreat, following up that same tradition.
The influence of Sufism probably reached Meister Eckhart. It’s very difficult to check on the dates of the visits of Meister Eckhart to Paris, how they synchronize with those of Ramon Llull, but it seems that at some time those two did meet. I’m giving you a little historical background behind it all. Now, the conquerors of India, the Muslim conquerors of India, amongst them were Sufis and mainly … the main one of the first ones was, Hujwiri. They call him Dātā Ganj.
And then later on, Khwājā Moinuddin Chishti, and that was in the … I suppose it was in the 13th century or 12th century … I think 13th (unclear). And he is the founder of the order to which we belong. I mean, of which we could be, we could say we’re “abzweigen” in Dutch and German, which means not just a branch, but a branch that has got a certain independence. In fact, that’s how the Sufis work. It’s not like a Vatican at all. It’s very centrally controlled, but a lot of ramifications. I came across in a library, in Hyderabad, I came across a manuscript that seems …. It’s likely that it is the words of Khwājā Moinuddin Chishti, but, one is always very, you know, there were many false documents in those days so one doesn’t … falsification, so one doesn’t know for sure. But the language is old Persian. But what I’m trying to say is that what he was … the substance of that book was that he was teaching the Zikr to Hindus. And explaining this, a little bit like what I was explaining this morning, like not just how to do the Zikr, but how that fits into the Hindu approach, which was, as I said, this morning, rather the opposite.
Well now, and what I would like to do is to present to you some of the Sufi mystics as persons but in view of, not just as persons who lived at a certain time and certain place, but for their contribution to our own experience, let’s say what they made an experiment in something that we are also experimenting, and how what they experienced can help us in understanding what is happening to us. That’s the only way in which it’s interesting to work with the old Sufis. Otherwise you can say, “Well, you know, that’s the past and why do we bother?” and so on.
Well, to start with, although now we are making … placing so much the accent on being in life, I do admit that the first Sufis, and even especially the first Sufis were extremely austere ascetics,
Abu’l-Khayr, for example, made a retreat of 40 years repeating the Zikr the whole day. Now I did it 40 days and I thought it was a lot and I keep on bragging of it. And Abu Yazid Bistami spent most of his life wandering in the desert with no shelter, and you know sometimes you can go a long time without finding water, get lost in the desert. And absolutely in the search of God … whole being like, you know, a kind of divine madness. And the same is true, Al-Hallaj also (unclear).
You see, what happens to … one has no idea what happens to a being when they dedicate themselves to such an extent to the search for God. The evidence of that is … a story that I often tell is that every now and again in India, an elephant goes mad. When the elephant goes mad, it kills its owner, it’s keeper. It breaks it’s chains, it rushes around in the streets and causes a stampede and crushes a lot of people. It breaks down houses. It becomes a monster, a dangerous monster. Nobody can control them. You know the strength of an elephant, there’s no way. And then they call the dervish. And the dervish doesn’t want to go … they collar him and take him …. And the dervish says, “Sit down.” And the elephant sits down. And everybody’s is just bewildered, wonder how on earth that dangerous elephant, he obeyed this dervish. And of course the reason is because the dervish thinks that he’s God, and the elephant believes it. It might make you laugh and it made me laugh the first time but I realized that in fact this is the essence of Sufism.
Remember the words of Murshid when he says, “the purpose of the message is the awakening of humanity to the Divinity in the human being.” That is, discovering the God in one. Just like Christ said, be perfect as your Father.
Now you could say well, couldn’t that not lead to megalomania? And Murshid answers that by saying, “the greatest pride together with the greatest humility,” or consciousness of the Divine Perfection, suffering from limitation in one’s being. And he calls it the aristocracy of the soul, together with the democracy of the ego. Reconciliation of the irreconcilables.
So there are times when the dervish falls back into his personal consciousness, and I suppose he is relatively humble. But when he’s in his divine consciousness, there’s no iota of humbleness there remaining. And, of course, you know, between you and me, of course, the reason why elephant and the dervish understand one another is the’re both as mad as each other. It’s a madness, as I say, it’s a kind of madness. It’s the … the ultimate wisdom is the ultimate madness.
The other thing about a dervish is that, he or she, because there are women dervishes, looks into your soul. And a lot of people are just afraid of the dervish because they feel exposed. They feel that they’re facing the light of truth. And the first thing that happens is one feels any guilt that one has. One feels it right away, comes up right away.
And the other thing is that, I suppose the dervish has gone through such personal sacrifice and such a stoic overcoming of himself that one just feels, not just guilt, one feels that one is lenient with oneself. Facing and therefore weak in comparison to the strength of the dervish, who’s not giving in to his whims. And it’s true that one says one likes the truth and so on, but when it comes to it, one doesn’t like the truth, it’s too harsh. And the other thing is the dervish becomes so powerful that he realizes that his being will shatter you.
Now, shattering is of course, one of the strongest terms used in Sufism, because … well, you … perhaps, you know those words of St. John of the Cross: “to become what you are you have to pass through a place where you are nothing.” And it’s true, and St. Francis said the same thing. And Christ said, “So that that the plant may be born should not the seed die?” and so on. So, it’s true that we have to go through a shattering. And the dervish enhances this shattering to such an extent that maybe one … it’s too much, maybe one isn’t ready for it. There’s a level, degree to which one can let oneself be shattered. And if it’s beyond that degree then perhaps one would go insane. One really needs to … there’s some … one needs to be protected. And the dervish knowing the shattering action of his presence upon you, will sometimes tell a person, “Don’t come near me, I’ll burn you. Don’t come near. And even keep really far away. Now of course the other reason is, of course, the dervish is very sensitive to, well, first of all to dishonesty. That’s the one thing that the dervish can’t stand is dishonesty. If he sees dishonesty in a person he feels like polluted so he doesn’t want to come near that person to get under that … in any way to receive anything of that shadow of that person … “keep away!” And some of the dervishes are really of course rather, I would say primitive, but that’s my judgment, and they throw stones at you if you come near them. You don’t know what hit you. I can tell you lots of stories of dervishes. You see, they will always tell you right on just exactly where you’re at.
Now, I can tell you a story of course, which I’ve told already more than once, when I was very young and I wanted to visit the dervishes in Karachi, and I was a guest of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. And his son was very interested in dervishes and Sufism and I asked … in fact, the Prime Minister was, too. And I asked him if he could take me to see a dervish and he said, “Oh, no, I couldn’t do that. But you know, if you go down this down this road and then the end, you cross over,” so and so forth. “And then there’s a market and there’s a old man in a blanket, sitting amongst banana peels and that’s him. He’s a great dervish.” So, I said, “Well, why can’t you take me? Are you busy? ” He said, “No, you see, I went to see that … I used to go and see that Dervish and one day he cursed me. And I was so shattered by his curse that I didn’t know what I was doing and I crossed the road and I had an accident and broke my leg.” And he went on to say, “As a matter of fact if I hadn’t broken my leg, I would have gone on this first flight of Pakistan Airways of which I’m the president, which crashed. So I said, “Well, if he saved your life by cursing you then, why don’t you let yourself be cursed again?” And he said, “Well, once was enough.”
So I went to see him. It was with trepidation. He was sitting on the blanket. Seemed a rather disagreeable man. And I was very young at the time. And I said to him, “How can one spread Sufism in the West?” I mean, if you go to see someone who you think has all the answers you’re going to ask him just the question that is most pertinent for you in your life, and that was the most pertinent question for me in my life at that time. And he said, “Never say anything if you think you can say it.” Now for me, who was brought up you know and … background of university, philosophy, and supposed to be able to express oneself, and to who was … whose whole life was expressing himself in words, tell you don’t say it if you think you can say it. And ever since I’ve always felt that I couldn’t say what I’m trying to say. It’s very, good for one’s ego.
Well, of course there are many stories of the dervishes.
The dervishes are very different from the rishis. While the rishis are sitting right up there in caves in the Himalayas, they found a good life, you know. There’s water and, well you know, if you know enough about herbs you can live in nature you can … roots you can stew and even without matches one can make some kind of a fire, a lighter with flints, and so on, you can really live on your own withoutthe need of anybody at all. They suffer from terrible hardships, like there are tigers and leopards and panthers, actually. Black panthers are very dangerous, and of course cobras.
I could tell you a lot of stories of …. A rishi who found this cave and then he … as he was lying down in the cave … no, he was sitting in the cave, that’s right, meditating, this enormous tiger came in because it was the tiger’s cave. It’s a very narrow corridor that leads into a kind of bigger recess at the back. I went into it. I had a terrible claustrophobia. It was very narrow. And so he had … there was a little light by his side. You could just see the face of this tiger, the eyes of the tiger advancing. And he said when theTiger … he waited until the last moment and the tiger was right in front of his lap, and then he gave him a real bang on his nose, and the tiger roared and backed out, and it’s very difficult for a tiger to back. That’s the last time the tiger visited that cave. But of course, he had to go out to to get water, and he was not on the best terms with that tiger.
Now, of course another story is this rishi who had decided that he was going to … he found this cave and you know they make a kind of promise that they’re going to spend 20 years or 10 years or whatever, sadhana in a certain place. That means they’re going to do these practices in a certain place. So he found this marvelous cave, a little bit sun, shade, water, everything. He thought, well, the one problem is of course if there are any tigers. And he thought, well, tigers well, they’ll … because the rishi has to take a bath every day in the morning. He thought well, they won’t be there in the middle of the day, tigers generally get to the water in the early morning, in the dawn. And they sleep in the middle of the day. So there he was, bathing in the water and there came this enoromous tiger. He got out of the water and he felt like running but to escape but he, for one thing he realized that it was the tiger would overtake him. and secondly he felt rather ashamed to run away, because after all he’s supposed to be a yogi master, and so he stood there trembling. And the tiger came, rushed to him and at the last minute the tiger slowed down, seeing him standing there so passively, and started licking his feet and then licking his hands and then purring like a big cat. And after that, every day when he took his bath the tiger would come and take a bath, too, (unclear). There are some wonderful stories of rishis living in those very dangerous circumstances and finding a way of being able to survive in the mountains.
The dervishes don’t have exactly the same problem because, well yes, there are some dangerous animals in the desert but not quite the same. There are snakes of course, but the dervishes very often they live in the nooks of … ruins of old castles, for example, or old walls of the town, places like that. That’s where you’ll find them. And so they’re much more, like much closer by. They’re much more In the urban areas instead of right up in the in the mountains. And that’s because, as I say, Sufism is much more like in life, than seeking samadhi beyond life.
Okay now, I’ll describe then each one of these Sufis, at least some of the Sufis.
I’ll start with Abu Yazid Bistami, who was an ascetic, probably a rather gigantic man who lived in the northern mountains of Iran. He went through different phases in his life. And the first phase was typical of what the Sufis … of the teaching of the Sufis. And that is, that the purpose of life is to become the expression of the divine qualities. Now, in our simplistic language one would have said, to become the instrument of manifesting the divine qualities. But in the Sufi view…. I will have to sometimes jump from one author to another or from one mystic to another. So, in the view of in Ibn Arabi, whom I shall describe later, that which manifests God is also God. God is not only that which is manifested, but that which manifests what is manifested. So, you can’t say you’re the … I’m the instrument through which God manifests. I am the divine manifestation, you see, because all is one so, I think of myself as an entity and not recognizing that everything is one which is the meaning of La ilaha illa ‘llah hu.
So in as much as we still have some vestige of our personal identity, then we say, may God manifest through me. And of course, there’s always an oscillation between that condition where one has lost one’s personal identity in the Totality, or where there is still some vestige of one’s personal consciousness. And when there is then of course, one says, may God manifest through me. And so his whole purpose in life was to become a perfect instrument through which the divine being may manifest on Earth.
And that’s the opposite of samadhi. It’s not seeking liberation in the samadhi state, moksha, liberation. No, it is the opposite. It is fulfilling one’s purpose on Earth. There’s a concern about what am I on Earth for? And it’s all based upon, let’s say, the very foundation of Sufi thinking, which is this hadith of Prophet Mohammed which I will now be quoting. I’ll come back to Bistami again because that’s the, how can i say, the pivot, the axis around which the whole of Sufism is built.
And that is, God speaking … these are the original words … you know, hadith means … while the Quran … Muhammad claims that the Quran was revealed to him while he was in a state of meditation and came through, hadith are things that he said. And people remembered them, they didn’t write them down. And I’m not quite sure, it may have taken eight years, I think before it was noted down on, I don’t know, some cow hides or something. So it’s the oral tradition, you see? So let’s say: they say that Muhammad said that, God speaking, He said, I was a hidden treasure, and I desired to be known, and therefore I created the world, because I desired to be known. Well, that is rather simplistic way of putting it, but still it says it.
So that would mean that the purpose of all of this was an act of self-discovery, whereby God discovered Himself. In order to discover Himself, he had to manifest potentialialities of His being. And we participate in that act in … every time that we come to greater realization, what we’re discovering is the being of God coming through us. Now, I’ll say right away, although there are many more things to say about this, the counterpart of this came from a dervish who was living in the desert of Egypt. He was called Abd al-Jabbar Niffari, who used to wander in the desert. A very mysterious being, and his daughter was married (unclear) family, and he used to come and visit his daughter’s family, and used to sit there and say rather fantastic, mysterious things that nobody could understand. And which fortunately his daughter took down. I don’t know how because, I don’t know they had shorthand in those days. Or, they certainly did not have dictaphones. And … but it’s amazing that … what came through is really amazing.
Now we read it today translated by Nicholson. It’s called ? Mawaqif. And it’s difficult if you make sense out of one sentence out of 20 pages, but that sense is already something, that’s really, that already says something. And then you may start familiarizing yourself more with that thought and then you discover something more. But it’s a way of thinking that is so challenging to our ordinary way of thinking. There’s no common denominator, so it’s very difficult to understand what on Earth he’s saying. But one of the more salient things that he said was, it was not in order to discover Himself, that He created you. It was out of love for you, that He descended from the Solitude of Unknowing. Now that … there’s very much in just that sentence, of course. But fundamentally, what it says is, the purpose of creation was love, instead of intellect, let’s put it that way, you see.
Descending from the solitude of unknowing is a … you know that word unknowing, you find it in that book called The Cloud of Unknowing. You see, according to the Sufis … right, I could really jump into this because … but I don’t want to confuse you too much. So I’ll try and be a little bit slow about it. But, see according to the Sufis, God has a knowledge of His being, let’s say in principio, as the Latin fathers used to say, in the principle of His being, which … and then there is a knowledge that is added to that, which comes by the manifestation of His potentialities in the form of the universe. So there are two forms of knowledge, a transcendent form of knowledge, which is called aqil, which means pure intelligence. And then a knowledge that comes by a feedback system, that which experiences in a feedback system, which is called Alim.
The first knowledge, which one might call transcendent knowledge, is the knowledge where intelligence knows itself. Everything is present within intelligence, without it having to project in a form, or in qualities or whatever, and dichotomize into consciousness and an object. Now, I don’t know whether you’re following me, but perhaps the clue to this is the word of Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan when he says, intelligence becomes consciousness, when it is faced with an object. And when you void your consciousness of any object –and that’s what Yoga is about– then consciousness cannot stand by itself without an object. And therefore it returns into its foundation which is intelligence. I don’t know whether this is clear to you, but …. Murshid says, the object limits consciousness.
Or, you could say that consciousness … well, Buddha, Buddha said it very clearly he said, consciousness is like a flame. And it can only survive so long so there’s something to consume. So as long as consciousness is being conscious of objects, it can survive. But if you void it of any kind of perception of the outer world if you sat in a Lilly tank, for example, and then you do some yoga practices where you emptied your mind of any thoughts or images, and so on so that there was … and emotion. So there was no content of consciousness. It would just return into its ground, which is pure intelligence. And that is what happens in deep sleep. Because in deep sleep, in sleep with dreams, there are objects and thoughts and emotions and so on. So consciousness is still active. But in deep sleep, there’s no more, there are no more objects. There’s no more experience. And that’s what scientists at least infer from the fact that there is no more rapid eye movement, as you know. And all that remains then is pure intelligence. There’s no more consciousness. And that is samadhi, is where there’s no more consciousness, it’s just pure intelligence. So that would be like the state of God…. Now, the word used by the Sufi is azalliyat, which means prior to existence. But that’s a mistaken concept, as one could say, it is the state of God beyond existence, maybe you could say, but not prior to existence. So that state can still subside while there’s another state that is added to it and that is a state of God in existence. It’s like you could have an eternal … eternity parallel with transiency so that as Thomas of Aquinas said, God is static and dynamic at the same time. So one aspect of God is in the process of becoming while, another aspect remain static. And what one is experiencing … experiencing is not the right word, but there’s no other way of saying it, is the state of God static where there is no transformation, no becoming, there’s no, birth no death and so on so forth. Just like a pendulum. The point of where the pendulum is suspended does not displace itself. It’s the only point that doesn’t displace itself. The other end of the pendulum is moving. I might add to that something that is a little bit more difficult to understand. And that is that there’s a point when the pendulum has attained the end of its swing, where it is suspended in time, where time is suspended. And that’s the way how eternity can be, can be incorporated into the process of becoming. And that’s why we sometimes experience eternal moments right in the middle of our daily life when we’re caught up in the process of becoming. So you see there’s a lot in that word, in that very little sentence of Niffari, but very significant sentence, where Niffari says God descends from the solitude of unknowing. And when he uses that word unknowing he’s used the word Alim, which means where there is no Alim yet, no kind of feedback … knowledge … there’s a feedback system as you know. We pick up information from the environment. We pick up information about ourselves by the way the environment reacts to ourselves and so on so it’s … that’s the kind … what they call speculative knowledge.
Now that word solitude is very important, because for the sufis, in His outbreath God descends from the solitude, of oneness into multiplicity and in this in-breath, God throws all things back into Unity again. And so, there are moments when we experience the need to fulfill the purpose of life, which is making God a reality in our being. Then we are sharing the divine outbreath. There are moments when we feel a need to retire from activity. And we go on retreat, for example. Or we have a need for peace instead of joy. Or then, we experience resurrection right now, which is one of the maxims of the Sufis: die before death and resurrect now. That means you already now you go through a process of disintegration. And already now you experience what it’s like to resurrect in anticipation for what will happen after death–after the death of the physical body. Prepare yourself for death. And that’s one of the things which people are now beginning to work with dying, death and dying. Because people used to ignore it before; now one realizes it’s this very real thing. And that if one is not prepared for it, one goes through a lot of trauma. That’s why the Tibetans have the Tibetan Book of the Dead. And the Sufis have a whole teaching about resurrection. How one works with preparing the body of resurrection. And the way to do it is to identify yourself with the essence of your being. There’s a shift of identity, so that you think of yourself as pure spirit. Well, we’ll be going into that a little later, although there’s so many ramifications as soon as you speak of any subject about Sufism.
So to come back again to Abu Yazid Bistami. In the first phase of his life, he felt a need to fulfill the purpose of life, and to become then the expression of the Divine bounty, that is the divine treasure that desired to be known.
I’m going to have to explain this a little more. Because Sufism is so subtle, there’s so much, really see the detail of what is very precise. You see, you’ve noticed in this hadith two things: I created and I desired to be known. One could say, the object created the subject that knows. Now, every sufi … no, quite a number of Sufis have made commentaries on this hadith of the Prophet. And my commentary is, instead of I was a hidden treasure, I would say I was a latent, many-splendored bounty. And instead of saying, and I desired to be known, I desired to manifest as a reality, and thus discover those potentialities.
And one could even say, and I desired that as I manifested, each fragment of my being should share in my discovery of myself. And therefore, I became in every human being or every feature, the object … the subject of my self-knowledge. Or one could say, and I dichotomized into a consciousness and a nature, and therefore I became in the consciousness of every being the subject of my self-discovery. And I became in the personality of each being the object of my self-discovery.
So in the beginning, there’s this knowledge without dichotomy between subject and object–it’s all one, total knowledge of pure intelligence. And then there’s a second form of knowledge that is added. And where there’s a dichotomy between subject and object, and where there’s a multiplication of subjects and objects, although apparent but basically, it’s all one. And the best example of that would be like the cells of the human body. Within the cell of each body there is the code of the … between each cell of our body … within each cell of our body, there is the code of the whole body. And so, as this bounty proliferated, each fragment carried within it the nature of the totality, and carried within it the consciousness of the totality. Now, I’m going to go one stage further and then we have our break because I know this gets pretty much into a mind trip, and requires a lot of concentration. Remember that Sufism has been called the metaphysics of ecstasy. It’s not just a mind trip, but the subtlety of the thinking forces us beyond our usual thinking. And every time that one is free from a limited vantage point one experiences ecstasy.
Well, I would say the most brilliant of all the metaphysicians in Sufism was Ibn Arabi, who was born in Murcia in Spain, and who is still unsurpassed in his … in the subtlety of his thinking, and the clarity of thinking.
So if you follow me now, I would say: by looking upon myself as an extension of the divine consciousness I confer upon God a further mode of knowledge. If you like, I help Him in His self-discovery. And by manifesting Him in my nature I confer upon him a mode of being. And I can go further than that and say: by … well, thinking of my consciousness as being an extension of His consciousness I do confer upon Him a mode of being by realizing Him in my being. And by manifesting Him In my nature I do confer upon Him a mode of knowledge because he’s able to discover Himself in my nature. So those are the four propositions.
So that the responsibility is somehow delegated down, so that although it is God who is experiencing Himself and discovering Himself, there is some participatory action of the human being, who nevertheless is part of the Divine Being but still there’s some relative autonomy there. So there’s some contribution that we make by our will, to the divine self-discovery. And therefore, because if He has granted to us His being, he also grants to us His will, and herefore His will is delegated further and further. And so, seen from the human point of view, it is our purpose to manifest God, and therefore help him to discover Himself, but only inasmuch as we manifest His perfection. And the point is that we are always standing in the way, or let’s say obstructing this self-discovery of God by looking at things from our vantage point, and forgetting that our vantage point is only a contribution to the total vantage point. And by being caught up in our own personality, instead of realizing that our personality is an expression of the divine nature.
So that was the first phase of Abu Yazid Bistami’s experience. And I think we need to have a break at this moment. It’s so very concentrated, requires a lot of attention on your part, and the sun is shining outside so why not just go and have a break of, let’s not make it too long. Let’s say, quarter of an hour and then we’ll continue.
It takes many hands and hearts at work to breathe life into the Archive Project. Our transcription workflow is still a creation in progress — to submit any corrections, please email [email protected] and note the title of the page in your message. If you would like to volunteer as a transcriber, please email [email protected] Many thanks and blessings!
his morning we’re going to do practices with light. I’d like you to remember the sequence of the practices. I think these are amongst the most important ones that everybody could do every morning. As a matter of fact, when people are initiated in the Sufi Order, we say that you may find the purpose of your life—illumination. Now, illumination might mean two things; one is, of course, being full of light, being radiant, and the other is when a realization has been incubating for some time, and all of a sudden there’s a breakthrough, one caused at the moment of illumination.
I’d like to preface what we say and what we should be doing this morning by saying that we must know that … well, to put it in a simplistic way, the body radiates light, and can be measured. But what is much more interesting is that, if one … it suffices that one should concentrate on light, for one to radiate more light. Mind over body. That, of course, is very encouraging for us, because we cannot be accused, as in the early days, of hallucinating, drawing people into imaginary light, when in fact, it’s just purely, as they call it, imagination.
Of course, little do we realize that when we are perceiving objects, we think we are perceiving objects, but what we’re doing is … well, our retina is sensitive to the light that is transmitted or emitted or reflected or refracted by the object. So, in fact, and what is more, our retina is radiating light, so that, in fact, perception is communion between the light emitted by our being and the light emitted by the universe. And another remark that is maybe even more important, and that is, that the universe, the physical universe, started as radiation, and crystallized into what we call matter, which is … of course, light is also part of matter. And at the end of the cycle of this particular cosmos, matter will, electrons will, again be transformed into photons. There’s a continual shift from photons to electrons in the universe. And so with our body. After death, I said, electrons scatter in the universe, but what is more, there is a conversion of a large number of electrons into photons, and so, we continue to exist as a being of light. That’s perfectly true – scientifically.
Now, of course, the word light is used in a very special sense by physicists, and the early church fathers used the word “uncreated” light to describe light that I think physicists would not recognize as being light – cannot be measured – and it’s probably not what we understand by photons. And there’s a whole graduation until one gets to what the Sufis call “the light of pure intelligence.” So when we’re talking about light, in the realm of spirituality, we don’t want to simply reduce the aura to a phenomenon of light, light, as we understand physical light.
And furthermore, I want to say that the human being exhibits at least three of the phenomena of light that you … that one finds in a number of organisms. One is what one finds in plants. That’s photosynthesis, the ability to draw light from the environment, and that light in the plants is used to power the whole machinery of metabolism. Then, few rishis, who I met very high up in the mountains, were able to do this … live entirely on light, for there was no food there. Years, and years, and years living entirely on their ability to process the light of the sun and use that for … as an energy, a source of solar energy. We don’t have chlorophyll but we do have carotene in our hemoglobins of our blood and there’s a way in which we … In any case, we are certainly processing a certain amount of the light of the sun in the form of vitamin D, for example. Many other functions in the body are related to the radiation of light, of these frequencies, including cosmic rays, that we don’t know very much about.
Secondly, we activate the ability of the firefly or deep sea fish to phosphoresce. That is, the ability to transform matter into radiation, and that’s like burning the body very intensely, and some of the Tibetan yogis and, of course, Hindu yogis, learn how to work with what they call tummo, that is, enhance the temperature of the body, and then the temperature of the infrared is then transmuted into ultraviolet, all the frequency range of light. And that’s one of the practices that we’re going to do, and the other is florescence, which is what you find in a crystal. And some of you know perhaps, that the crystal does not simply reflect light, light of the sun or let the light pass through it, which means refract it, but … the electrons actually transmit light and emit light. And what that means is that the electrons absorb lights of a certain frequency by … they use that light as a sort of energy, to free themselves from their orbitals and start dancing. And then when they have spent all the energy that they were able to draw from the light and they fall back into their original orbitals again, and any extra energy is radiated as what they call florescence, is fluoresced. And so, in principle, you should be able to place a crystal in the light of the sun or expose it to a mercury vapor lamp, for example, and then snatch it into the dark, and it should be able … it depends upon the latency period, but it should … then it would radiate light for some time in the dark. You see? We have that ability too. As a matter of fact, according to Schwinger, the physical cells of the body have something of the nature of crystals, aphasic crystals. That means that they can change their frequencies, whereas minerals are locked in a certain frequency and they can’t change their frequency.
And the last thing I want to say is that we’ve been thinking in terms of, like, the body being the core … may have been the fundamental reality, and then the body radiates light, and so on, but it may well be the other way around. It may very well be that the body is simply a hard core within the body of light, and that, in fact, the electromagnetic field is formed … I mean, the physical body is formed within the electromagnetic field … electromagnetic field is formed within the aura … maybe the other way around, you see?
And one might envision also the aura as being … I think the word vortex is well applied here … as a vortex within the whole light field or the whole aura of the universe. That is, a formation within that larger aura, and which means that we can draw more and more of the life of the universe into our aura.
And I want to terminate by talking about the rishi who was in an ashram very close to that of Sivananda, from Rishikesh, and he was hundred and four years old. He used to do jogging every morning. He couldn’t walk, but he could run. And he was a muni … that means silent … and he just sat there and one could come and just look into his eyes. And you could come and you could sit there for hours, if you wanted, just looking into his eyes. And his eyes were, just like, sparkling. They were just like … it was just like looking into a heaven. And one would come out of that totally transformed, and walking on air, and … I mean, what more does one want?
Now, he had, of course, practiced all his life working a lot with light, and they often start by simply the practice of what is called Ekagrata, which is concentrating on one point, for example, the nail in the wall. Well, should you do that, you’d find that it gives, of course, a lot of focus to the light of the eyes, and see the eyes are … one can do the same thing … of course the Zen masters do the same thing, looking at a vase, for example, for half an hour or longer, of course. Now the eyes are programmed in such a way as to pick up a moving object. So, for example, a falcon is able to check on the motion of a little mouse at tremendous altitude, whereas maybe we don’t know just to what extent the falcon is able to apprise the details of objects that are not moving, but objects that are moving, it does. Now, when the objects are stationary, then we move our eyes. If you’re looking at a vase, for example, we move our eyes on different areas of the vase. But supposing that we did not move our eyes, and just kept on encompassing the whole vase in its wholeness. Then all of a sudden, the vase seemed to stand out in comparison to the rest of the environment, with a realness about it, which one has no idea about, unless one would do it, and see what that … really … what happens. It’s quite miraculous.
Now supposing that instead of just concentrating on a nail, one should produce one’s own point of light and concentrate on that point of light. And so that’s the method that I advocate myself.
What I mean is, of all the parts of the body, the nerves, of course, are the ones that emit the most light. And among … and you know, the retina of the eyes is an extension of the brain. Alright, so now we’ll start our practices.
Yes, I want to say one more thing, and that is, I often say that in order to become what you are, you have to discover yourself in another yourself, who is, perhaps, more able to manifest what you are than yourself. And so I find that in order to become aware of one’s aura, it is good to expose oneself to a bright light. A lot of people protect themselves against a bright light, like the light of the headlamps of a car, whereas, one gets to a point when one enjoys being exposed to the headlamps of a car. I do. Or the TV lights, in the TV room. I mean broadcasting station. And there’s a saying of Plotinus who said … says, to look into the sun, you have to have eyes like the sun. We, sometimes in our camps, we do a practice, which you can do today. And that’s looking into the sun at dawn. And for a few, let’s say, an hour after dawn, for during that period. Now the rishis who look into the sun the whole day, in the high mountains, normally … in case of most people, the retina would be burnt within a few, even a few, seconds, looking into the sun. So, the method that we use is to protect the eyes, and by forming a kind of … we call it a filter. It’s really a frame that you, with your hands, you make a kind of frame and then you circumambulate the sun, so that you never expose the center of your retina to the light of the sun. Or then you make .. .you motion like crosswise across the sun, so that the eyes are only exposed to the sun during a very short time, during the sweep of your head across the sun. Left-right and then right-left and then up-down, down-up. Now, the fact is that, of course, as I say, that one can develop a lot of power into looking, fixing, the sun for hours and hours and hours. How on earth is it possible, since, as I say, normally the retina would be burnt, totally scorched? Well the answer is in those words of Plotinus. You see, if you yourself radiate a lot of light towards the sun, then you are immune from the scalding, or the scorching of the sun, and so you are able to look into the sun. But of course, if you lose your concentration then, of course, you’ve lost it, and it’s very dangerous.
You see we are aware of the … we think of, for example, the amount of thousands of light years that light might take to reach us from a star. But we realize that the light that we radiate from our eyes also hits the star, and maybe in a hundred thousand light years from now, the light that we … by looking at the star the light that we thrust upon the star may reach that star a hundred thousand light years from now when … or may not reach the star, because by that time, the star may have dissolved. A hundred and eighty-six thousand miles a second! That’s the speed of light. So it takes eight minutes for the light of our eyes to reach the sun.
So I would like us … what I suggest, then, is that we start by consciously drawing … let’s say, converging, the light of the universe into the vortex, let’s say, of our being as we inhale. And consciously radiating the light of our aura, that has been enhanced by the light that we have converged from the universe, as we exhale. And I dare say that if one is consciously … if one is conscious of drawing light into, let’s say, towards the axis of the vortex one … and you may notice that one tends to open up the pores of one’s skin. There’s more to it than that, because that’s just the feeling one gets, in fact, one can have a kind of goose flesh, rather like you feel when you’re sunbathing, possibly. Then … but it’s deeper than that. In fact, the sun blazes trails within our flesh, nervous system, within the cells of the body, and the cells of the body themselves act like crystals, in that they draw the light of the sun. They use that light in order to start, let’s say, the electrons start dancing. So if you could experience, if we could experience, like, the dance of ourselves, of the electrons within ourselves, as we become receptive to the light of the universe, and you don’t have to sit in the sun for that. Light, even in the dark, there’s cosmic rays, light of very high frequency that is reaching one, crosses … it breaks through the walls. In fact, the whole universe is a network of light of different frequencies. Wave interference pattern is a more correct word. And instead of thinking that you’re drawing light into your body, that’s one thing, it’s true, that the body is reacting to this light and energized by it, but you may think of yourself as being an aura. That means a vortex of light, which is fluctuating as you exhale and inhale, or you inhale and exhale.
So, the forces of light build up as one inhales. So, the aura burns more brightly, and, as I said, the cells themselves burn more brightly. Then, as you exhale, as we exhale, that we may consciously radiate light, which is not the same thing as radioactive decay. I mean, the fact is that the body is continually dissolving in the environment. That’s called bio plasma. In fact, the heat of the body is a result of the decay of the cells. It’s entropy, and heat is released. But, what I’m saying is that instead of simply just letting go to the process of dissolution as one exhales, one is consciously radiating light. So, one is processing the light of the universe and something is gained by it. There’s a plus for the universe in the radiation that we emit, and it’s possible that, it should be true to say that there are certain plants which thrive in our radiation. That we contribute towards the radiation of the universe, by processing it.
Now remember, this light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles a second, and consequently, in a sense, one could say that when you approach the speed of light like that, that you can…you’re simultaneously in all corners of the world at the same time. And should you, at that particular moment, as you’re exhaling, concentrate on a person who is ill, for example, the effect of mind on body has the effect of giving them an extra … an extra dose of energy.
Remember those words of Buddha: “With a thought of love I want to contemplate the world, and may this love extend to it’s four horizons. And then, with the thought of love increasing beyond measure let me encompass the whole world up to its confines.” And then it goes on with compassion and then joy and peace. Well, one could add light. With the thought of light, let me contemplate the world, and may this light increase beyond measure and then, with the light reaching to the four horizons, let me encompass the whole universe up to its confines.
Maybe the term to “radiate” is not quite correct. Maybe one could say that one is extending oneself. The radiation IS oneself. So one is … it’s a gift of light to the universe. One is reaching out into the universe as a being of light, as one exhales.
Now we could work with the, let’s call it the vertical access, axis, with (sorry), the conversion of infrared into the visible spectrum and also ultraviolet–that’s the practice of tummo. So, as you exhale, you could concentrate very intensely on the bottom of the spine, Muladhara Chakra. And then, as you inhale, transfer your attention from one chakra to the next along the spine. That is first … and represent the color of each chakra. This is a classical method. So the Manipura … the Svadhistana, the second chakra, is more like a kind of a vermilion, I suppose. Pink. And then the Manipura, which is the Solar Plexus, is an orange, and then the Anahata Chakra which is the heart chakra is a golden hue. And then, the throat center is green, and then you get into the blue of the physical eyes, and the violet of your third eye, the Ajana Chakra. And then you get into kind of a colorless light at the top of the crown center, which is the Sahasrara. It’s like the lotus of a thousand petals, or a million petals. Although it’s colorless light, there are reflections in it of the various hues in the light spectrum and they’re like a rainbow.
So you’re starting with the infra red with its heat effect and you’re moving to the ultraviolet which is of course, very high frequency. And by the power of mind over body, one is transmuting the rather grosser energy of heat into that very fine form of energy, which is high frequency light.
I advise you to hold your breath at the end of the upward sweep as you reach the crown center, and turn your eyeballs upwards. And also press the … curl your tongue upwards and press the bottom of the tongue against the palate. And then relax, of course, the tongue and also the eyeballs as you exhale. As you exhale you have to thrust all the energy of your magnetic field into the bottom of the spine.
We’re talking about the electromagnetic field of the body, and the bottom of the spine is where the electromagnetic field of the body meets the electromagnetic field of the earth. At least that’s the point, a very important point of junction. And of course, why it’s much more powerful if one is sitting on the actual earth. And so you should feel the temperature in your body. You could perhaps even increase the temperature of your body as you exhale. There’s also a tensing of the muscles of the whole body.
Imagine the color red, a hot braze … brazier, hot to cold. Keep on exhaling. So, this is the scorch effect that is, actually has, burnt the Shroud of Turin of Jesus. The scorch effect—extreme temperature. At the exhaling, the energy of the body is transmuted into infrared radiation.
Now, as you move up, I mean, you transfer your attention up the spine, your representation of the colors will adjust the frequency of your … the light that you emit, and you may experience coolness, a cooling off from that terrible heat, until you reach the immaculate landscape of the soul, and the snow and ice as you reach the higher chakras, particularly the crown center—pure spirit.
It’s all energy but it’s … this is … it’s like high voltage, low wattage as compared with high wattage, low voltage.
Of course what we like to do is to, as you hold your breath, remember your condition, prior to the birth of the body, as a being of light. And this is maybe what we mean by uncreated light. But, as I say, it’s … one does not want to apply to this very high realization the limitation of one’s concept of oneself as being an entity. So, maybe the concept of being a vortex of light is helpful to avoid going into an ego trip.
So, being a being of light is not tantamount to being an aura of light. The aura is a formation with a definite structure. I mean, it’s not a … it doesn’t have an outline, borderline, profile. But still, let’s say, a kind of organization, even differences of frequencies and some of the light is centrifugal and others is more like concentric radiation. So, being a being of light, when one means by that uncreated light, does not have any structure. It is not located in space, and maybe not subjected to time – to the arrow of time. So what I’d like you to do is just to, for the moment, just for a moment, to radiate intensely, irrespective of inhaling or exhaling and enjoy the ecstasy of light, and at the same time be conscious of being a being of light beyond that formation that is the aura.
Now you may notice the very intense radiation of the heart. It appears to be like the pole of the whole aura, the center of the aura, the heart. And it’s like … it’s rather like the sun. We … I remember describing it as golden. And so, you’ll find it, if one concentrates very intensely on the heart chakra, and, at the same time, on the radiation around the shoulders. One is burning very intensely.
And now I’d like to draw your attention to the crown center, which is above the skull. It has it’s center within the brain, but most of the radiation is above the skull. In one sense it’s a little bit different from the radiation of the heart, in that it appears rather like a fountain of light that is rising and some of the…in the center of the fountain, light reaches much higher than on the sides. But you find that the more you go into it, the more you realize that there’s no … it doesn’t … there’s no borderline to it, there’s no limit to the reach of light in the crown center, and it fuses eventually with the aura of the whole … of the planet, and eventually of the whole universe.
Now one can use that kind of ascending light, as the Sufis describe it, as a lift to propulse one, or propel one, catapult one, right up into … I say up, but I think we should think in terms of different universes of different degrees of subtlety with one within other, like Chinese boxes. And so one is reaching into other universes of light, and then the physical universe that is familiar to one, that are … that interpenetrate the present universe, and intermesh with it. That’s where you find it useful to turn your eyeballs upwards.
Okay now, what we want to do is this, as we exhale, I try to thread all that light energy down, by focusing it, first of all like a beam of light the descends into the … actually, into the pineal gland, and then is refracted forward into what is called the third eye. Now, much of the light is also threaded into the optic nerves. So, I’d say perhaps … you see, there are two things, there’s the light of the … that is thrust upon the environment by the third eye, and there’s a light that is thrust upon the environment by the physical eyes. I think it’s simpler to … I would consider the physical eyes as the rails upon which that locomotive, which is the third eye, moves … gives it at least some direction, although the light of the third eye, like, rather like the lightning, the energy of lightning, will never brook of any limitation. So, for the moment I would simply concentrate all your energy upon the beams of light cast forward by your eyes, forward into space just like the headlamps of a car, and then you put all your energy into it.
Now rather than concentrating on a nail, you could converge those two beams upon a point, say, about six feet ahead of you, and then those two beams of light … imagine two laser beams…would, as they meet, they would form a spotlight, suspended in the middle of the dark. Now, if that spotlight is unstable and, of course, it means that you’re … you don’t have very much concentration. So, you should work on this practice, to get it, that point, absolutely stationary. The second thing is, of course, if the spot is not very bright and you are not using a lot of light, you’re not, let’s say, processing a lot of light. So I would, as I say, place all your energy into making that spark of light, very, very bright, and hold it in one place, and be very conscious of the extension of your eyes, of the optical nerve, as a matter of fact, forward into space. I mean the light traveling along your optic nerve is cast forward into space.
In fact, when you’re doing, working, with the astral body, the astral hand extends beyond the physical hand. And you have to place, you have to kind of … how can I say … transfer your being into that beam of light, into those beams of light, and ultimately into that spotlight. So you are more there, let’s say, then in your body, somehow. And this, you will notice, if you displace this point a little bit forward as you exhale, like, now it could be 12 feet instead of six feet, or it could be even a hundred feet, or even way out into space. Now you’ll notice that as you displace this point of light, you get a kind of vertigo. It is as though you’re being pulled out of your body by the lure of this point of light, because, as I say, you’re building it out of your own energy field, and so it’s your … it’s part of yourself. And so, a part of yourself is moving forward, and has a kind of way of drawing you into that place.
Now, as you inhale, reverse. Turn your eyeballs upwards and get into that fountain of light at the top the head, and reach right up and hold your breath, and once more experience yourself as a being of light. It’s … in one sense, it’s like remembering having been a being of light before one had a body, but it’s also … one is still a being of light now.
Okay, now what I suggest is that as you exhale, forming the spotlight of light, you open your eyes, and do not allow your eyes to be forced into focus by the objects in the room. So, you cast light forward into the room and beyond the room, through the wall, and so on. Ultraviolet light will go through the wall, of course. And if you’re moving to start focusing on the objects then, of course, you’ve lost your concentration. So close your eyes, turn your eyeballs upwards. Inhale. Envision yourself as a being of light. And exhale now, with the eyes open, and don’t let yourself be forced into focus by the objects.
The objects will seem like a blur, and, I would say, concentrate on the third eye, which will help you to keep your … on the beam of the third eye, which will help you to avoid allowing your physical eyes to get into focus. Now, when I say your third eye, it is really the Divine Light descending, as the Sufis call it, being … how can I say… threaded into a particular channel. So, one must not think that it is one’s own glance. That would … that is the danger of … one goes into a real ego trip, hypnotic … develops a kind of hypnotic gaze. It’s … the only way to do these practices, really, is to become pure spirit. And we don’t want to develop occult powers, or hypnotic gaze, or try to influence people by one’s glance, or anything like that. You see, one has to be very careful about that, and the only way to avoid it, is to return, as Jesus said, to the innocence of a child.
Now one would really have to purify oneself before one had access into these practices. These are very advanced practices, but our way is the way of selfless dedication to the divine service. And that’s why, much as some of you might think it’s rather naive to concentrate on the angel … angelic worlds … but, it is a guarantee against the Luciferian tendency in the human being, to want to impose his will by using occult forces.
In fact, the great beings have the simplicity of a child, and, at the same time, the wisdom of a sage, of a mature person. That’s why, in actually working with light, one should also work with pure spirit. That’s a concept that is, of course, very difficult to grasp.
Let us think of the story of St. Seraphim, who was a hermit, living in the forest. Hesychast, and he used to shun humans, so when people used to come to see him, he used to hide behind the trees. But he loved children, so when … so what they used to do …they used to send children. Then he would come out of… from behind the tree, and then the grown ups used to come. And someone said to him, St. Seraphim, could you tell me, what is the Spirit? They’re talking about it in the church, but what does it mean – Holy Spirit? And he dropped his hatchet and he took the man by the shoulders and shook him. And he said, there was so much light coming out, coming through his eyes, and then he realized what was the spirit. You see, it’s like … it’s not in the mind. It’s a real experience of a being who had become pure spirit. And so, there’s some link, you see, being pure spirit, and one can begin to radiate a lot of light. But if you don’t, then you can radiate light, but it becomes Luciferian light, which is, as I say, an occult phenomenon. Just what we want to avoid.
That means that one has to become absolutely selfless. That’s really it. So all that we did about, you know, getting over our anger, and our despondency and guilt, and so on, is absolutely essential, as a preparation to doing these practices with light.
think we find that just achieving things in life does not give us the sense of fullness or satisfaction that we need to honor ourselves. And therefore, we are more and more aware of the need of working with ourselves to improve ourselves. That’s what one calls transformation and this retreat is going to be inspired by the enormous amount of work undertaken by the alchemists of the Middle Ages and past centuries.
There are clues there that are extremely relevant to the process of retreat because they were working with trying to discover methods to promote transformation and it looks as though they were working with metals, or whatever, they were trying to see if they cull in the processes that the metals undergo in their transformation clues that would help us to work with our psyche, at the psychological level, because in fact, as above so below, that means that psychic processes are the same as the physical ones.
I don’t want to go into too much theory because this is a retreat, but let’s us say it all starts by building a temple. In fact, the reason that they’re using in order to promote a transformation is an oven and that is a vessel which affords them a certain amount of protection in which one can bring energy. Energy is the heat of God. In the case of the psyche, the oven is the temple. That is in our meditations we tend to emphasize that aspect of ourselves that is absolutely cosmic and without boundary. And it is true that is an aspect which I have highlighted a lot in the course of the past years, but we are really cross between being a temple; that is a vessel which lets in like a cell. It has a membrane that is more or less permeable and then a vortex which does not have a boundary. We’re are both and sometimes we function much more as a cell, and as I said and other times, much more the other way around then as a vortex. The vortex represents or let’s say strengthens in us, enhances in us, a sense of all encompassingness, a cosmic dimension.
And this is particularly important when you’re on retreat, you always, never limit yourself with your notion of yourselves, whatever that notion is, but always keep on being aware of the cosmic dimension of ones being. That is illustrated by the holographic paradigm of our time, which means that as much as you can fraction a crystal for example, every fraction of the crystal behaves like the whole crystal would behave a little less well, but not like a fraction of the crystal. It paves like the whole crystal. In other words, every part is superimposed upon every other part. So, that is one thing we have to bear in mind all time on our retreat; otherwise, we get caught up in our little ego trips. And the whole idea of retreat is get away from them. And that’s the first rule.
Second one is that indeed, we do have the faculty of selecting those impressions that we wish to embody and those which we wish to reject. So that we’re not simply just like a crystal. We have at the human level, we have developed faculty, which is perhaps the most precious faculty in the world, and that’s the use of freedom. And therefore, we are able to, it is in our selectivity that we affirm our freedom.
This leads us to the next point that we need to have very clear in the course of the retreat. And that is that one of the great properties of the temple is that it safeguards the sacredness of one’s being. That is that aspect of ourselves that is continually being violated in the profane way that society has developed, particularly in our time. So, this need is felt even more strongly than ever before. That is something that one becomes aware of when one is being slighted, for example, or humiliated. That’s the time when, somehow one feels violated in one sense of sacredness. And that is because somehow how we are aware of the Divine status of our being, like we are a temple which is harboring the divine presence that needs to be safeguarded. So that the sacredness in our being is illustrated by the alchemists as the precious jewel, it’s called the philisophical stone. It’s the diamond of Buddhism. It is something that is elaborated in the course of the eons of time, the Divine Presence. It’s there in a rough form, but it becomes more and more glorious as evolution proceeds, as the human being becomes more evolved.
So, it’s within this temple that the process of transformation takes place. It needs to avail itself of the material of the environment, and this is what we will continue doing because not just eating food, but we are continually imbibing impressions from the environment that undergo a whole process of digestion in our being and therefore, they are transmuted. There is a Yasna in a Zoroastrian text that says, May I be the instrument of the transfiguration of the world, so that somehow each one of us has a sacred duty to transmute those rough impressions that we get from the environment. Some of them have a beautiful. Whatever the impressions are, to somehow to draw the gist out of them, just like perfume one is drawing the gist out of the flowers and somehow incorporate them into one’s being.
Now, there are many other things that we’d need to say about this and in the course of this weekend, which will pass much quicker than we think, we’ll be looking at some of those aspects of the work of the alchemists that are relevant to meditation, but for the early meditation, I would like us to simply work with building the temple. I would like to add, ultimately the Temple of Light. So we start the first level and then we’ve gone to higher levels eventually, of course, not just the Temple of Light, but the Temple of Celestial Light and even a temple of sound. Now, it occurred to me that one of the tremendous advantages that we able to avail ourselves out in the Sufi practices as opposed to the practice of the Hindus and Buddhists is that the body in zikr and whirling of course, the body is in motion. Because if indeed we are temple, what does it mean? I don’t mean that simply that the body is a temple as we imagine the body to be, but the energy field of the body or to call magnetism does represent a kind of vortex and the vortex it means that the different layers reaching to the very fine inner ones, the outer one a little bit grosser and that’s a very complex vortex of course, not just like whirlpool, but it is static, it is not totally static, the molecules and that moves the cells of the body continually in motion settles the body and continually in motion.
So, it is not completely static, but still if you print upon it a motion then it becomes a dynamo you see this like a magnet has become a dynamo to start whirling it, swirling it, swirling the magnetic field. So, that is one of the great advantages of the zikr. Now, actually one can whirl the magnetic field while sitting still that is true, but in fact, that is, it’s easy to do this, if one has started with the motion of the head, not just the head, but the whole body. And then eventually, you will find that somehow the magnetic field has been dislodged from its sclerosid condition and starts swirling. Actually, one is churning the magnetic field of the universe. Perhaps you know that the stars are pulling out to the churning of the magnetic field of the universe. It’s a kind of process of rebirthings, except one of the principles of alchemy is, especially Indian alchemy, called Rasiana. (?) It consists in going through all the stages that we went through in the course of our birth, but a new, start again, start from scratch with faith. This time, consciously and intentionally.
So, one of the things of course that stands in the way of our retreat concentration is thinking of ourselves as a body or what we imagined body to be. So, the first thing is to really become aware of the whole zone of energy surrounding the body and also permeating the body.
May I call it the magnetic field, it may not be the right word. In fact, a better word would be the light field, which includes lots of different factors. So, that’s the first thing if you could just to be aware of a kind of a zone of energy, magnetism around your shoulders and that’s how I feel it on the shoulders in the front of the heart center. And then one feels it very strongly around the head to clear on the temples and the top of the head, the crown.
Now one can feel it inside also, inside the body, like the energy that moves the cells and the molecules and atoms and electrons, protons. Now, this is very interesting, if you start simply churning this field, at least moving it with regard to the field of the environment, just like a whirlpool, as you move your head like in the zikr; that is, from the zenith toward the left and then the bottom right, back to the top again just simply as a circle. Disregard your breath for a moment. I don’t know whether you have the impression I have. It’s almost as though when we’re leaving the heavy body cells just a few inches behind one’s magnetic field as one moves that. At first, you think it’s your body that is moving your magnetic field and eventually it’s your magnetic field that is schlepping your body around.
Now you start with a very slight movement and gradually increase it so it becomes a spiral instead of a circle. Just think of the galaxies and the stars, that are all like spirals.
Actually there’s really two centers of this. In fact, you know, a spiral has more than one center. The circle has a center, but the spiral has one center and then there’s another one that is offset from the central one. So, I’m going to say that the center of this temple that we’re building is the altar. Well there’s the tabernacle, and then there is the altar with the candles on. The tabernacle is the solar plexus and the altar is the heart. So perhaps as you’re doing this, just become aware of the sacredness of the altar in the center of the temple that you’re building. That is, you see if you are circumambulating a center you strengthen your concentration in that center. In fact, I don’t know whether you have that impression. It’s really like two spirals, one moving centrifugal, and the other moving centralpetaly. So, while certain kind of energy is expanding as you rotate and then there’s another energy that seems to contract or concentrate, moving towards the center. And the feeling I have is that the energy that is moving towards the center is like energy that is getting finer and finer, and eventually it avers itself to be pure spirit. Right at the center is pure spirit. That is the Shekinah of the Kabbalah. Sufis call it Shekinah the Holy of Holies, Santum Sanctorum.
On one hand you are becoming more and more cosmic, or you becoming more more aware of the endless, infinite dimension of your being and on the other hand, you’re turning more within into what is Sufis call Batin. And the word Batin closely enough means finely woven. That is where everything is so very deeply intertwined or in inveigled with everything else that you don’t have this scene of life where every object occupies a different place, called the explicate state. Now you’ll find that when you’re working with the temple, you find that of course the same is true of your apartment or your kitchen and that is that there are certain things that one wants to reject or train away.
One wants to cleanse the temple. One find that it is very badly polluted, because somehow our pristine nature has been very badly defiled by the stress of our lives and emotions have arisen that have a tendency to draw one down away from one’s celestial inheritance. So, I must say this now, the alchemical process, the alchemists distinguish between what they call the dry process and the wet process. The dry process called Kelsinotsio (?), the fusing of the metal so that the dross, that is those aspects that are undesired or undesirable, will be drained off same. So, that’s a very drastic method. What are those elements in our psyche? They are resentment, at least where resentment has developed into hatred. Well, you know what yourselves, anything in you that you don’t like. You don’t have to go by what anybody else says, if you are happy with those idiosyncrasies then don’t get rid of them. It’s just that if the aspects in yourself that you don’t like. I think it’s also true to say that if we want to progress then we need to deal with the aspects that we don’t like about ourselves. So, that is the next stage when you break the circle when your head reaches the zenith by a vertical axis, your head moves down vertically, and you do that as you inhale. Why not explore new methods. Yes, you do have to inhale. That’s right. Yes, you do have to because you are you are exhaling in the circle. Now, as the head comes down you inhale and remember that this action by fire, what they called choosing metals, draining the extraneous matter, really does incur an act of your will. Fire representing the will. uncompromising and it’s possible that one is not being totally fair by using one’s to will.
You know this the ascetic way and the ascetic is uncompromising. Resentment is written in our programming because, at least anger is, because it acts as a deterrent against people who would violate our sacred space. And so we don’t want the spiritual quest to make us codependent. That’s why I’m not instructing, advising people to to get rid of their anger, but I’m saying that if there’s anything in you that you don’t like then this is the moment to act like St. George with a dragon. Just think of St. George’s and the dragon as the head comes down. You definitely eliminated, you definitely drain it out of your system altogether. That is why the motion of the head as it comes down is very drastic. Now, there’s always a counter movement, of course, and so as soon as one’s psyche is relieved of some of the dross, it shoots upwards right away, that’s by inhaling at this stage is very appropriate. It’s just like if you drop a lot of bags of sand out a balloon it rise very fast. So, you feel that as your head comes down.
Now, the dry method is followed by what is called the wet method, which is distillation you see. The dry method one puts the metals in the ethanol which is the oven and so methods are fused. In the wet method one uses the Alembic, the retort, and so that the liquid is now transmuted into vapor. This is distillation. Instead of rather drastically ridding oneself of those aspects of oneself that one doesn’t like. Now as one is inhaling, as one’s head is lifted, one identifies with the vapor that has freed itself from all those elements that were weighing upon it. There’s a marvelous sense of freedom. So it does not occur as an act of will, but rather as through the sheer joy of, the thrill of liberating oneself from those things that were weighing upon one.
Now, this is followed by a period where you are holding your breath, not inhaling. So when you inhale remember that the head comes down in the dry method and then rises in the wet method. Then on finds one center in the heart. I think you could say that, maybe I should come back on what I said about the spiral. I think you could say that the center, the main epicenter, of the spiral is the solar plexus, but when you have you have cleansed, when you have performed those two operations, we’ve just talked about, then you transfer your sense of the center of your being from the solar plexus to the heart center. So this is the time when you, now what I see is only, how can I say, first way of looking at it and that’s an elementary way of looking at it. It’s a little more complex than that, but see you have for one thing you have cleared a zone by the circular motion, you have cleared a space, which is that what the template is it’s a space it cleared. You have cleansed it. At least you have ousted the elements you didn’t want. You have found freedom within it, and now you are able to glorify at the altar. That’s where you hold your breath. You are the priest in the temple, not just the temple, you are also the priest in the temple.
So, if you are the priest, if you’re both the temple and priest, of course many other things too. You also the sweeper of the temple. Then it is the material aspect of yourself that represents the temple, I don’t say just the body, the subtle bodies, too. But then there’s a difference between the different identities that you come across. You had identified with the temple to start with and now you identify with another aspect of yourself that is not the temple. It not yet the precious stone. The precious stone is the tabernacle in the temple, but it’s the server, who is at the service of maintaining the sacredness of the Divine Presence. It is a different level of your being to the one that we worked with building the temple.
This is where the Sufi teaching about the hierarchy comes in very strongly. One isn’t alone. I think that’s very important because if we’re working to improve ourselves, we tend to think of ourselves as individuals. It’s good right from the start to realize that we’re all part of, well, the human family and the whole universe we are part of. We’re not alone. In physics one talks about orderliness. There is a government. The government has difficulty in a a firming itself. That’s true. One’s dedication to service of the hierarchy that is serving the divine order. I would say the key to initiation. As matter fact the alchemists were not allowed to perform, later on yes, but in the early days you weren’t allowed to perform their work unless they had been initiated. You know that is true of the Sufi order is is a pledge to serve that divine hierarchy.
I think we have to make it clear that to serve the hierarchy in its function, not the persons, but the function of ensuring the sacredness against defilement, entropy. So, perhaps you would, at this stage I have talks enough, so why don’t you, just perhaps you can remember all the things I said. Do the practice in your own rhythm by just making a lot of circles without bringing your head down. Start to really have a sense of those spirals. Spiral that is moving towards the center, the centripetal one.
You do identify yourself with your magnetic field rather than your body remember. Rather than just think of the magnetic field as homogeneous, think of it is made up of many different subtle bodies, one finer than the other. There are really just lots of spirals, extending and receding.
The finer one’s extend much further, seem to have less extension. Body seems to be limited by this skin, whereas the magnetic field is a little bit… well it doesn’t have a boundary, but still a certain point is much more difficult to, at a certain distance from the body, it is difficult to measure it. Whereas; very fine ones extend far out into space.
It’s useful to think of the stars and particularly galaxies. Then one realizes that as above so below. That one is really a miniature cosmos one’s self, a micro-cosmos, which forms with every other vortex a wave interference pattern, so that it’s everything is everywhere. Everything is inter-meshed with everything else without losing its own identity, which is one of the great paradoxes of life.
So the temple is vast. It’s not enclosing oneself, encapsulating oneself to someone’s identity, but it’s extending into the universe. Of course, the temple is intended to house people who come for prayer, so there’s room for people in that temple, but there are grades, there’s a gradation. So there is of course, the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Holy of Holies, where only the very few who are able to honor the sacredness that you feel admitted. Then at the periphery are those who are kind of, in some way attracted by the divine glory, but a little bit hesitant and then of course outside those who are not admitted really in the temple because they would destroy it, they would define it by sacrilege.
Right now perhaps you could start moving the head down. So actually, what you could do is make several circles as you exhale and then when you need to inhale then you bring your head down. It depends how fast you move of course. Perhaps you have noticed how when, after having acted rather violently upon those aspects of oneself that one wants to reject, one rebound they fast, just like a ball. It’s all done in one breath.
Inside the area of the temple is not totally homogeneous. As I said the closer one gets towards the center, but also there’s a difference between the bottom of the area of the temple in the top. It gets more and more rarefied as one reaches the top. That’s the realm of the Holy Spirit. And the thing about the third part, which is concentrating on the altar, the heart is that one brings the Holy Spirit down into the heart. In other words, a very high aspect of one’s being is incarnated, or is reincarnated, brought down into one’s heart. That is what the Christians call the quickening by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit that is always represented as being above, descends like a dove. upon the altar, pure white, albino. The Hesicasts, the early Christian hermits lived in the desert, called it theosis, the divinization of the human being.
I’d like to add that this is the secret of transformation. That in fact you cannot transform yourself by trying to rid yourself of the aspects of your being that you don’t like, nor develop the aspects that you’d like to develop. It doesn’t work that way. One has to touch upon the catalyst that sets off the operation and that is the Divine Spirit, the Holy Spirit.
Now, the downward motion followed by the upward motion is so fast, it takes place so fast, that one doesn’t have much opportunity to notice that there’s a kind of cover over one’s heart. One tried to get rid of the grosser aspect of it, all those things that one got rid as the head came down, but one will notice that it is one’s personal emotions that becloud, or enshroud the heart. That’s the bushel, the light under the bushel. So that the third stage does require not only the cleansing of the temple, but also dealing with residue at the purely emotional level that beclouds the heart.
The Sufi say, I think it was Rabia al Adawiyya, who said this, “There’s only room for God in my heart.”
don’t know how to say it, but we’re going through something very intense. In a way, plugging into something so enormously great. But we can’t say we grasp it, it’s rather that we are grasped by it. Of course, our minds tell us that it is the divine splendor but all our ideas and representations (?) can seem so futile. All that we know is that further do we change from Jung’s state of delusion and if we are really to fulfill our purpose in life, then we have to go about it in a very strong way.
And yet, what we do seems to be so very inadequate. Or, we can never say that it is what we do that brings it about. Somehow we fit into our foundations, maybe we do some repetitions of the Zikr and it seems like a big deal at first. Until we realize it is just a pinprick in the whole process of life. But then things happen, one has been transported or suddenly something is triggered off, or it’s as though one lost one’s precarious foothold in the world. These are very approximate ways of saying it, sometimes they’re very strong, like one’s foundations quake with a power that is coming through.
I suppose it is because the world as we thought we knew it is such a very small, let us say, fragmentary expression of reality. It’s like a ripple on the ocean of reality and at no time can we ever expect to grasp the greatness—I use the word reality—of the greatness of God. Yet somehow it seems like the objective is the hominization of God, that He should become a being with a body, through us. It is the making of the king. So we have to reach beyond the world so that God may become a reality in us. And that seems terribly presumptuous, only in the Rasul can the divine being reach fulfillment. We are maybe sketches on the way, various works of art, trial and error, so that one day we might be a masterpiece. But fragmentary as it is, when the being of God comes through we are overwhelmed with delight. It’s like a sign of the One (?), that indeed there is a little bit of reciprocation after so much abandonment after our alienation.
Of course we can only manifest God, as the Sufis say, in as much as we know God and we can only know God in as much as we know Him in ourselves, we discover Him in ourselves. That is our passive response to his action in us. But it seems so very small and inadequate. What do we know of him that we may manifest him? If we knew how wonderful the universe is, and what we know of the universe is so little, and even the whole universe is so little in comparison with the divine perfection, how can we claim to manifest the divine perfection?
And somehow when we are prepared to make an effort to depart from our usual alienation and we have the courage to go through the dark night, when there seem to be no results and we have to cope with the abyss of our personal selves and stumble within and despair for not (?), and still have the courage to go on persevering, and even when we are tested in the extremes of abandonment, at the moment of where everything seems to be useless and lost, sometimes there’s a little – just a little indication – “Ayat” as the Sufis say. Maybe it’s a symbol, it’s something like if we were able to perceive the signal of a being in outer space beckoning upon us to believe in its presence. A silent voice that we plug into all of a sudden. That is mainly again just a metaphor – it’s like when something happens to us and we are suddenly catapulted.
We’ve been trying and trying to lift our consciousness but in vain, and no thoughts in the world at all, and all this sham comes back, because there’s all that conditioning in the mind, and go on struggling. And all of a sudden it’s like something in unleashed and one is catapulted into what seems like other spheres, it’s like there were several universes—one within the other—or let’s say totally different spacetime relationships, we don’t know. There’s no element of comparison, it’s totally different from what we thought and as a matter of fact our representations and that means many of the things that I myself have tried to describe not only are totally inadequate but they may stand in the way of one’s experience.
One has to be prepared to find that it’s totally different to anything that one had ever thought. Like one hopes to reach upwards in other universes and it may be the other way around. Something of the nature of those modes of the being of God begins to make themselves manifest in our being. Or it is our receptivity or capacity to let this come through that is our response to what is coming through. We know that at the end of that path—although there’s no end, it’s like the horizon—but let’s say as far as we can see—well, we can’t even see it, but as far as we can possibly reach out in anticipation.
It is only the divine essence that all is One, without multiplicity whatsoever. And that means without deterioration, degradation, alienation, which arises from individual wills. Yes, there’s a coordination behind them and it’s an unbroken wholeness, we know that. But do we know what unity means? Only when we are carried beyond our idiosyncrasies and our wills and our individual consciousness and stripped of all those qualities of our being that have alienated us from the divine hallmark which constitutes the essence of our being. And that’s what we’re doing in the zikr – we’re undergoing a stripping, what the Sufis call (?). It’s all the divine nature, but as I say, it’s been alienated, it’s been degraded, it’s been deviated, it’s been limited, it’s been fragmented. It’s suffering entropy, disorder. It’s all God, but there’s entropy.
It’s all beyond our understanding. It seems so contradictory, is it the fulfillment or is nostalgia Ishq? That he should become being in the world which—physical world—which so alienates itself from its original purity. And then what is the meaning of this tripping into beyond the beyond. The mind will never be able to encompass all of this. We only know that we are coping and sometimes guided and as we depart from our secure foothold in our minds, then we are overwhelmed with what Is. With the sublime splendor. And that itself is a garb. It’s a veil on the being of the beloved.
And isn’t that extraordinary? From the human vantage point, being the splendor that we so glorify. It’s a veil—one can just be so enamored by the glory that one fails to experience communion with the Being. And isn’t it strange that that which now avers itself to be a veil from our point of view, from the Divine point of view, it is that with which he manifests himself. And then we know that, we realize that by knowing him or whatever we can know of him through ourselves, we are still not reaching Him. Only by loving. That is a very painful path, because it doesn’t seem reciprocated—it seems the other way around. One goes from abandonment to abandonment, and even betrayal.
Yes, it seems easy at first—how could one not love all that is beautiful and wonderful? But it’s like loving a person for the beauty of their face. That’s not loving, that’s igniting. It’s a path for the madmen. Not prepared to be thwarted in the most sacred thing in the world. The power behind which the whole universe revolves—the power of love. Yes, we know it as liking people, passion, compassion. Yes, we know it in many things, tenderness, and kindness, admiration, friendship. And all of that is well, manifestations of it, expressions of it. But what it does, if one ever could reach Love in its unadulterated, overwhelmingly (?). It shatters you more fully than the most overwhelming knowledge of meaningfulness.
In fact, one can only manifest the Divine Being by involving one’s self in the trauma of Divine Love. And then we realize that all one thought one knew was absolutely worthless. Of course one cannot (?) God by knowing him. Because one’s knowledge of him is so totally puny. Except those moments when there’s—Al Hallaj says, “God descends from his pinnacle into your heart and overwhelms you with His knowledge.” And then there’s no way in which you can possibly encompass it or reflect it or in any way respond to it.
Yes, I know I’m talking nonsense and that’s the language of the Sufis. It doesn’t tally with the knowledge of the world. There’s no way in which it can fit in to any compartment. And yet it is the ultimate realization. And in comparison, any knowledge that a philosopher or scientist can cull from the nature of phenomena is as inadequate as Newton’s theories in comparison with Einstein’s. Or let’s say the difference is far greater. This is the knowledge that transforms beings. The human being whose dimensions are far vaster than one could ever know.
*Pir Vilayat pauses here as a siren sounds in the distance.* Let’s recall the world, urgency, to deal with things in the world. Little did the caller know that it is for us the call to prayer.
(Disclose to us Thy Divine Light …)
hat we are doing today is really the culmination of the retreat, because we have to participate in the fulfillment of our purpose, which is right in the nitty-gritty of the personality, which is as Murshid said, “the fruit on the Tree of Life.” But instead of working to try to improve or develop the personality, we are getting right into the mystery of the Divine act, of which we are the expression.
Try to grasp the moment in pre-eternity triggering us into existence as the living expressions of the Divine Being. And for that we find that we have to let ourselves be carried beyond the world, in what one might call the state of Samadhi.
We found that Buddhist practices were a help to protect us against the danger of slipping down into our personal consciousness. Extricate ourselves from our involvement in body and mind and personality and consciousness, and we find that it’s really very elementary. It’s just what we resort to when we find that we get ourselves reminded of our body by being bitten by an insect, or enjoy the sound of the birds, or start wondering what we’re doing, sitting here and were annoyed with the rain or whatever it is, or thinking about our problems in our personal lives. You know, all those things draw one back into one’s personal consciousness, and that’s where we find that a kind of overview, realizing how in the process of life one has let oneself get involved by falling into the illusion of thinking that one is what one thinks one is. All of that is of great help, especially against the invading thoughts, random thoughts. And my instructions were never to let ourselves be constricted by personal consciousness. But all of that is, just as I say, a safeguard. No more than that.
I find that a very critical moment is the moment when I say one has a feeling as though one is cutting one’s moorings with the physical world. I suppose it’s like an astral flight or something like that, that feeling of disengagement of one’s being from bodiness. But as one is carried upwards–I don’t mean space but in other planes. There’s that great joke that one gets when, I dont know whether it happens to you as it happens to me that all of a sudden it’s as though one were lighted up like a bright light.
And all the sudden one realizes that this is the reality behind the physical world. That’s the world of light, or the world of radiance. And whatever remnant there is of personal identity is like “I’m a being of light.” But that is … we know that that’s a handicap, that’s a constriction, something that is going to hold us back although there’s a lot of joy in it, but it’s a temptation.
And this is where Suhrawardi’s experience that he describes is a help because somehow, it’s not just the phenomenon of light, but the beams of light. And all forms of the world seem to be like the formation in space of something that is not a spatial configuration but is a reality in terms of light. I know that what I say doesn’t seem to have any meaning in terms of our ordinary experience. A reality of light that does not seem to have any spatial … meaning in the realm of space.
It’s a whole universe, it’s a whole different dimension, and it’s like horizons; one goes from one to the other, brighter and more meaningful, each one more bright than the one before. And of course behind it, there’s an emotion, or there’s a lot of emotion, the emotion of illumination, if I may use such a term. And then one reaches further into just vibrations, resonance. One can’t see how they connect up — what interrelationship there is between these planes, seems to be a different mode. All reality seems to be just a symphony.
Now of course if one lets oneself be carried further and further away from anything that has a semblance with the physical plane, then it’s like just the divine glance, or let’s say divine intelligence which becomes glance.
The light that sees instead of the light that is seen. It’s not structures of light anymore, even the archetypes of light anymore. It’s just pure consciousness, luminous consciousness. The Divine glance in all things. And together with this, there’s something else which is, again, quite undefinable, and that is pure spirit. Just like the trigger of energy, like the — it’s the life of life, or as I’ve often said the life of life needs such energy that one … there’s no element of comparison with anything that we understand by energy.
And what I’m saying is a very inadequate expression of what’s happening.
And of course, one is over-stressing one’s consciousness, as one gets further and further away from the physical universe such as we know. Until, I expect one gets lost. One blanks out into … I suppose it’s what the Sufi’s call the cloud of unknowing.
I suppose it’s a certain temptation in letting oneself lose oneself in the unknown. One has to experience it to know. It’s like all of a sudden everything switched over. One had been involved in all different parts of existence and now all of a sudden one is catapulted right out of it. One sees the whole of existence as a kind of trip that one had got into.
And one’s notion of one’s self is totally shattered. This of course, it’s totally contrary to … well, that seems to be like the path followed by Buddha, and well, one doesn’t quite see what purpose it serves. It’s very intriguing to extricate oneself from the process of creation, but that’s where one needs some help to avoid losing oneself. And I feel that’s where the Sufis are a great help because one realizes that there was a purpose in creation. And that purpose is like … at the end of time. Everything is moving toward that purpose, and yet that purpose is already somehow prefigured. It’s very very strange, it’s that … I suppose that’s the meaning of Alpha and Omega.
And perhaps we could say there’s a long term planning, and then there’s a … but there’s only the overall end, I suppose it is planned. But then there’s all that inventiveness in the course of it. Short term planning or freedom or whatever, playing it by ear, or inventiveness. And one sees oneself as a part of that whole purpose, or planning. And this is, of course, the secret of the Sufi teaching is that one can reach into that original state in pre-eternity that triggered off one’s being in the process of becoming, whereby God was contemplating all His, let’s say, the qualities of his being, the potentialities, the possibilities within Him, which were at first totally immersed in a state of latency. They are just qualities, they’re not forms yet, they’re just qualities. Like majesty, and power and beauty and light, and purity, and truth, emotion of ecstasy.
All the bounty, this breaks through in existence. And somehow one is the expression of all of that. That’s what one is. And, of course according to the Sufis, in order for those attributes to fulfill themselves of … in order for God to fulfill Himself in these attributes, He by His act of imagination He projected them into beings. Or rather, beings are the act whereby God projects His attributes into forms. And the word form, I think … I think I would rather use the word the seed of God, like the DNA, not a form it’s an organizing force that organizes the environment to make it conform to it’s idea of a purpose.
And that’s what we are: the seed. And the curious thing is that the potentialities in the seed are actuated by the divine glance. That’s where we see the … there’s the original dichotomy we experience on one hand, that we are the Divine Consciousness. And on the … that is the divine glance as we say, that is a light that sees and the light that sees is also the light that triggers potentialities into existence. So instead of being, you know, identifying ourselves as our personality, we watch … or rather we get into the Divine Consciousness watching the effect of His image in us. So, of course, if you participate in this type of realization, you can discover the divine qualities in yourself.
They come through little bit, very limited and I suppose the best examples would be like, first of all they’re distorted like, for example, an image of a … your image in a lake, that is the ripples in the lake disform the image, or the matrix of a crystal may be seen in the crystal, but the crystal may be a very poor replica of the matrix. It might not be a good crystal.
Or the image of a … in a photograph is a very impoverished image of the scene, so maybe there’s something of that perfection that comes through there but it’s very difficult to see it, being rather blurred. And yet, it’s that which transpires rather than that that appears, and yet that is the moment of ecstasy. When you’re able to, somehow earmark, as Murshid would say, the hand of God in your being, the act of the Creator, let’s say if you like, the mark of the paintbrush in that painting that you are. All of a sudden those quantities become very strongly enhanced.
Murshid gives the example of the sun looking at its … looking at a sunflower and recognizing itself as the sunflower, although the sunflower’s a very poor replica of the sun. And somehow, it is true that the action of the sun will make the sunflower unfold, and so when you think of yourself as the divine glance, the action of that Divine glance that is your consciousness upon your personality is going to unfold your personality, or rather bring into manifestation the hallmark of the Divine Being which has been blurred in the personality. And you see all of this is done while one is the state of Samadhi.
That is from that place which originated our being, and if we allow our consciousness to come down too much then we lose the ability to do it. And then the best thing to do is, again, to let oneself be carried upwards. That’s where I find the Buddhist practices very helpful. One sees that one has got oneself involved so much that one has lost the sense of one’s purpose, and so one can’t fulfill one’s purpose.
On the other hand, if one loses oneself right up there in Samadhi one can’t fulfill one’s purpose either.
Could you just do that then? From the moment that you see that your body is just the fabric of the world, and your personality is just a formation in which the divine archetype comes through, and you’re thinking is just the way the mind is made, consciousness is just a focalization: all these thoughts will just free you from your being caught in a perspective.
And now let the foundations of your being be shattered — the moorings as I call it. And then it’s just like remembering an original, or several original states, which one had forgotten because of one’s … the way one got oneself caught in a perspective.
Now, I find that the most traumatic moment I think is when one discovers, I call it “the Face of the King.” Like you know you been looking at things from, let’s say from underneath, let’s say, looking upwards. Now all of a sudden the whole way of looking at things is reversed. And you’ve got into the Divine Consciousness, who is contemplating Himself as the … as a king. What I mean is, an archetypal image of perfection. And you realize the whole universe … purpose of the whole universes is the formation of that king. Just like the purpose of the ant nest is the formation of the queen, or the bee hive is the bee — the queen bee.
And that we’re all part of the formation of that king, as like the archetype in the beginning, but it’s getting more and more concrete. It’s working towards the point where beings will be more and more like that archetype, like the DNA of the species is evolving towards that state of higher perfection. And we see ourselves as part of that process. Then we begin to see the purpose of our lives, and we think, “well, I’ve been missing it! I mean, I’ve been going about it random without really seeing what it’s all about, about fulfilling that purpose. But I can’t work with my personality to try and change it. It doesn’t work that way. I have to go right back into the original state, and redo the whole process. Go through the whole process of my birth again. Rebirth myself, by getting into the Divine consciousness of the Divine perfection.”
I suppose it’s like if you had a wonderful father, and then you all of the sudden discover the qualities of your father coming through you. And there are many other qualities you develop, but these qualities are beginning now to … all of a sudden you earmark a quality which you know it was, it was a quality of your father. And you see that it’s in you. But you had to recognize it and value it, to be able to give it expression, and from that moment it begins to develop in you. And there’s the emotion of discovering your father. And it is the emotion that moves the Universe.
(Disclose to us Thy Divine Light …)
(Prayer for the Universel)