Saturday, January 17, 2009

Blessed Glance as Sacred Practice

1.
contemplate
the Archetype
of Which
you are the image.

dis-cover yourself
in an other
your self
in whom you are the object.

- Vilayat Khan

* Note: This post is a continuation of the previous post: Blessed Glance, please click here to read it first for a brief introduction to what it means by Blessed Glance.

2.
Bismi'Llah al-Latif, al-Khabir

The blessed glance is not an abstract concept in sufi mystic path but 'conscious glance' is a method given to aspirants in special cases as sacred practice. The Chishti sufi practices incorporate this esoteric practice.

In one hand, the blessed glance happen through the source of a God-realized person, usually an adept master who has perfected his human-ness with the divine attributes by grace. On the other hand the aspirant, one who has an ardent and sincere longing to arrive at the door of realization can also do his or her part of conscious practice of glance.

In the sufi path there is an adab (spiritual etiquette) that one must NOT avoid any glance from anyone, be it stranger or friend. For example when we are walking in street or sitting at a coffee shop, often time our eyes gaze upon somebody who is looking at us. Its a mystical phenomena that when some eyes looks upon us, our sixth sense awaken to an awareness that we are being gazed upon or observed; even when, say, we are sitting at a table not paying attention and someone is looking at us from our back, we gain a subtle awareness. Unconsciously we look up and around to see by whom we are observed or who is glancing at us and we discover that truly someone is looking at us.

Without looking, how we become aware that someone is looking at us is still an unsolved mystery from conventional science (from quantum physics there are some understanding, which are still very early stage of our knowledge, that our thoughts are connected or communicate as energy / vibration that create this awareness, the double slit experience is an interesting example of how matter / waves changes with observation, the role of observer), but from mystical perspective the mystery is precisely in the power of glance and what is behind the glance. Even when the glance is coming from an unconscious state and human being, that also stirs up something within us. So imagine the glance of a God realized being who can look upon you with total unconditional love, how powerful that glance can be! In eastern tradition such glance has a name, darshan or nazar which closely translate as 'blessed glance'.

Getting back to the adab or spiritual etiquette in regarding such glance by strangers or, lets say, unasked-for glance by anyone, one must not avert such glance from the other. Averting such glance is a spiritual loss. The proper etiquette is to respond to the gaze by acknowledging it, perhaps with a gentle smile. That is one of the significance why Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, always encouraged to greet everyone upon meet or passing by, and to simply smile back to other is considered charity in Islamic path. He personally would teach his companions to greet all, be perfect stranger or perfect friend. Any glance, specially from strangers is considered a source of baraka (blessing) and to acknowledge it by glancing back (uniting the glances) properly is the right adab. The union of glance of two human beings are extra-ordinarily powerful even though its impossible to precisely tell how.

Even the most brilliant quantum physicists of our time are baffled with the role of observer. Watch this double slit experiment result when matter or energy is observed (and remember that we as human being consists of both). Also another recommended clip from What the bleep do we know?, watch Quantum physics and Consciousness ... connected?


3.
Shaghl-i-Aina
The Practice of Gazing at the Mirror


In Chishti sufi order, the practice of gazing at the mirror is a powerful esoteric practice sometime given to the aspirants to help improving one's awareness in the first place, although the mystical implication of this practice goes much deeper than that.

I quote from a Chishti sufi manual of the practice of gazing at the mirror:

O Friend! Instructions on Shaghl-i-Aina are imparted thus: The Murshid (sufi master) instructs the murid (aspirant) to sit before a mirror and look at the reflection of his face, and occupy himself with repeating the Name of God. If the seeker is blessed by the Almighty, he receives the joy he desires.

Because the shaghl (practice) is subtle, the seeker who is of subtle disposition will, in his meditation soon have experience of a truly subtle nature.

- from, Rah-e-Tasawwuf (The Path of Mysticism), Hazrat Nawab Mohammed Khadim Hasan, Gudri Shah Baba III

In the above practice the aspirant should make himself or herself conscious of the Holy Name of God, which sufis call as ALLAH. Also another very powerful and appropriate Name to repeat and contemplate upon while doing the practice is to say YA BASEER.

al-Baseer is one of the 99 revealed name or better said, field of consciousness of Divine Reality which points to the consciousness: The All Seeing. So the consciousness that must accompany this practice is to becoming aware that Allah is al-Baseer, The Divine Reality is the All-Seeing One, God Alone is the Seer, we are the only the 'abd or servant or instrument which participate in this Seeing. So saying either outwardly (loudly) or inwardly (silently upon breath) "Ya Baseer" (O the All Seeing) while directly gazing at one's eyes in the reflection in mirror is the action involved in this practice. Glancing upon your own eyes in the mirror, may your mind be emptied in the process and use the divine name, 'Ya Allah Ya Baseer' as vehicle to let the stream of consciousness: 'Allah is the All Seeing One' flow through you.

4.
Meaning of the Sacred Name: al-Baseer

The All-Seeing, The All-Perceiving, The All-Comprehending

The One whose insight sees all things clearly, both the apparent and the hidden. The One who sees and understands all that has been, and all that will be. The One who has insight into all things. The One who perceives every detail. The One who understands all things, both outer and inner. The One who has given to mankind the outer eye of the body, and the inner eye of the heart.

Baseer is from the root b-s-r which has the following classical Arabic connotations:
to see, behold, notice
to understand, to know
to perceive, to have insight
to be acutely aware

This Sacred Name is mentioned in the Quran in a number of places.

5.
dis.covering

This eyes through which I hoped to see God
are the eyes
through which God sees me.
- Meister Eckhart

Don't
look
for Him
everywhere,

He's Looking for you.
- Sanai

for indeed
you are
inside
Divine Eyes.
- The Quran, 52:48

These are the eyes through which
God sees Himself
- Ibn Arabi

6.
Behind the Process and Beyond

As we turn about in meditation on our very image, as we unite our gaze with the reflection of our gaze, if we continue to still our self, the mind from other thoughts and by repeating and concentrating upon the Divine Name, more and more, we enter into a new sacred ground.

From here on each individual has an unique journey. How the experience will take up from here is upto each individual and what experience or awareness will arrive is dependent on many subtleties including the level of the mind and state of the heart of individual.

In the sufi path the purification of heart is an important factor that is essential for such practice to take off on its own wings. The key is not to see image or reflection but to become luminous (munawwara) in your being. Everything in cosmos declare the glory of God, everything in the creation is stamped with His Light and nothing in the created manifestation carries more light than the face of human being, that is your own face. Most are generally unaware of it, one may not have the ability to see how much light one hide behind the veils of one's being, but in reality the light within each human being are more than a thousand splendid sun.

Rumi says,
I swear my dear son,
No one in the entire world
is as precious as you are.

Look at that mirror.
take a good look at yourself,
who else is there,
about and beyond you?

Watch all that beauty
reflecting from you
and sing a love song to your existence.

There are reliable experiences shared from fairly new aspirants and student of sufi path that after practicing the glance on mirror, accompanying with sufi zikr / meditation of Ya Allah, Ya Baseer, a very significant shift in consciousness happens. Some have felt the effect immediately within one night or few days to such an extent that even sleeping state becomes much more aware and conscious. On the subtle level consciousness becomes refined. And such subtlety happens by the Permission of the Almighty through His Grace, and Allah knows the best.

Huwa al-Awwalu wa al-Akhiru wa al-Zahiru wa al-Batinu
wa Huwa bikulli Shay-in AAaleemun.
.. wa Huwa maAAakum ayna ma kuntum,
wa Allahu bima taAAmaloona Baseer.

He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant and the Knower of the Hidden, and He is Cognizant of all things. .. and He is with you whersoever you are; and Allah is the Seer of your actions.
- The Quran, 57: 3, 4

May God guide our heart to the sincere and true realization of divine oneness and experience that within our inmost being.

[>] There is a great poem by Rumi mentioned above that resonate along this practice as it summarize beautifully the essence of it. Click here to download & listen to the mp3 of the poem and attentive listening to this poem and 'taking in' the meanings is a great meditation by itself.

7.
On that day (some) faces shall be resplendent,
gazing towards their Lord.
- The Quran 75:22, 23


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