Thursday, April 30, 2009

Remember Within and Over Your Breath | Meditative Quranic Verses

Waothkur rabbaka fee nafsika tadarruAAan wakheefatan wadoona aljahri mina alqawli bialghuduwwi waal-asali wala takun mina alghafileena.

Inna allatheena AAinda rabbika la yastakbiroona AAan AAibadatihi wayusabbihoonahu walahu yasjudoona. - Surah al-A'raf

And do you, O reader! remember your Lord within your (very) soul, with humility and with awe, upon your breath, in the awakening of morning and evening; and be not you of those who are unmindful.

Those who are near to your Lord are not proud to adore Him: They praise Him and prostrate in loving humility before Him.

- The Quran, The Chapter of Heights, verses 205-206

. art credit and artist: Alex Gray
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

sufi exercise for the monkey mind

Green Tree1.
The Exercise

Sit in a room or a quiet, private place. Better even outdoor surrounded by green trees and open air, say children playground or park.

Sit with your back straight, hands folded.

Choose one color. Try finding all things with that color, say Green. Observe for a minute or so.
Repeat with a second color. Repeat with a third color.

Close your eyes.
Choose a sound, and rest your attention on it. Listen for a few seconds or a minute or so.
Then choose another sound, and rest your attention on it. Repeat the above. Then choose a third sound. Repeat the above.

Stay put.

Rest your attention on your breath for a while. Observe how it enters you and leaves you.

Dismiss gently any distracting thoughts. In the first few practices, the thoughts will be overwhelming and perhaps disgusting, disturbing, or silly. Dismiss.

Open your eyes after a while, or whenever your heart feels like it.

The exercise is adopted from the teaching of Shaykh Ebrahim Schuitema, may God bless his work, via Ramla Akhtar's post @ Facebook Group of Zawiya Ebrahim

As our heads talk too much, this simple exercise above is fantastically helpful in taming what our spiritual brothers in Buddhist path call a "monkey mind."

Mystics teach simple things,
And those simple things change people's lives.
- Irina Tweedie .......


This following sohbet or spiritual conversation may have happened in an ancient time or it could have happened in our time. It may have happened in an ancient city like Bokhara in Central Asia or a modern city like New York. Both time and space is immaterial, so we can ignore both.

"As you do the exercise", the Master speaks now in soft but clear voice, "when you pick and concentrate on one color and trace everything of that color, as you continue with the practice, one day will come then you will be able to concentrate on the Color of God."

"This practice that is given to us by the great Masters, is for that goal - to be able to concentrate on One Color, the Color of God and abide therein. 'Sibghata Allahi', Color yourselves in the Color of God! When that day comes when you will be able to concentrate on the Color of God know that you have reached at a major milestone in your journey back Home. Whether that day I am in this body or I am beyond the veils, I shall congratulate you that day." Saying thus the master enters into silence. Only the sound of his deep breath and birds chirping outside the lodge.

The Master resumes, "For the sound concentration, learn to hear only One Sound. The reason we come back again and again to the simplest sound of our breath is because this is the first sound our being heard as our spirit entered our body in the womb of our mother, may God bless all mothers in the world." Saying thus the face of the Master changes, tears roll up in his pure eyes. His closest friend and long time student understood that the Master is remembering his mother who is no longer in this world and passed away when the Master was still a young man.

Not trying to hide his tears, with diamond glitters in his eyes the Master continues, "With every inbreath Hu, with every outbreath Hu. Thats the goal for this part of the exercise. Hear only One Sound, Hu, the Nameless Name of the Beloved.

For the Muqarrabun in this path, those who are drawn near to God there is only one virtue and only one sin for the soul: virtue when one's breath is conscious of God and sin when one's breath is not. In surrender to His Infinite Mercy may we be included and accepted among the Muqarrabun."

+ Resources:
. Join the Facebook Group of Zawiya Ebrahim for teachings, updates and further resources
. A collection of the works of Shaykh Ebrahim Schuitema: Articles and Literary Works
. Becoming Conscious Through Our Senses
video interview by Peter Kingsley via Global Oneness Project
. Abraham: Training of monkey mind, youtube

+ Related:
. Conscious Breath | Reshad Feild
. Awareness in the Breath | Awareness in the Moment
. Only Breath - Rumi

. Painting credit: Coloured Glass
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Three Poetry Offerings of Michael Graber

White Wave Devotional

You come to me for solace, to wash
away the stern face you wear to survive
civilization, to connect with a stronger
current whose rhythm sustains disaster.
You long to be one with the world, the
milky way, all the worlds within.
You yearn to taste water so salty
it could work in a womb, so teeming
with life you could end up as dinner.
Wade to where I reach your thighs.
I pull behind your knees, you fall
for it. Are you ready to surrender,
seeker? Release to this greater force.
Relax, I have taken your breath, stung
your once bright eyes. If you want
to be remade you must dissolve into me.
I like your bones. I want to bleach them
pure white. Cut your leg on my coral.
Are you strong enough? If I breathe into you
and wipe your eyes clean, will you
swim again? Will you seek the same
things here, longing to lose yourself?
Let go of my hair. That tickles. Please,
please. Why are you laughing underwater?
You might drown. You may drown. You may.

Going Fallow

Your admirable discipline must die.

Your love of knowledge plots its revenge, taking
notes from masterpieces you devoured and then forgot
the most critical details.

Your liberating rituals turned into shackles
when you tried to sell them to another.

Even God won’t tell who hid the keys and the defeated
locksmith just laughs at these mystifying,
otherworldly keyholes.

You must burn your own fields to keep yourself hungry.

It takes time for poison to ripen into medicine.

You have to lie lazy for a season.

Even if you loved before, and shattered your partners
with undulations and orgasms, you cannot guess
the next step of this dance.

Wildfire knows only its own logic.

Stop talking about ecstasy.

Taste death in your beloved’s tongue.

You have to lie down.

Lie down like an infant.

Will love suck the breath out of you?

Are you brave enough to slash and burn any illusion of growth?

Are you patient enough to do nothing for a season, even strangle
shoots from last year’s still fertile roots?

Can you stand the pressure of doing nothing?

Can you receive this gift of rest?

Going fallow takes trust.

Let your lover act like a cat in the cradle
of an old wives’ tale.

Press Harder

I will not shatter in your work-worn,
attentive hands. I am not glass, not
hard crystal. Water and warm earth,
I’m clay you work. And you walked

barefoot over rocky ground to be here.
Let me wash your feet. The scars
are not signs of sin; sin is a lack of
path prints - we discover longing

to learn belonging. A hawk glides
through a heated sky, nature’s kiln.
We inhabit the planet together. Each
acquaintance a reunion. Each touch

changes shape. Mystery will not kill
you. Mastery will not kill you. Failure
will not kill you. Love will destroy
what doesn’t work awake. Yearn,

press harder between your thumb
and forefinger, thin the vessel so
you can hear water inside. Feel what
you’ve heard since the day you were born.

About: Michael Graber is a poet, musician, and businessman from Memphis, TN. The Sufi works provide much of guidance for him.

Since 9/11 and America's response, he has written only love poetry, seeking to put this energy into the world. We are grateful for sharing of these 3 beautiful poems of his many for us. Michael can be connected via his Facebook.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Visiting the Ramakrishna Temple of Dhaka

Hand of Rama Krishna1.
"Can you weep for Him with intense longing of heart? Men shed a jugful of tears for the sake of their children, for their wives, or for money. But who weeps for God? So long as the child remains engrossed with its toys, the mother looks after her cooking and other household duties. But when the child no longer relishes the toys, it throws them aside and yells for its mother. Then the mother takes the rice-pot down from the hearth, runs in haste, and takes the child in her arms. (Like that cry out for God and thus you shall attain).

You have been born in this world as a human being to worship God; therefore try to acquire love for His Lotus Feet. Why do you trouble yourself to know a hundred other things? What will you gain by discussing philosophy? Look here, one ounce of liquor is enough to intoxicate you. What is the use of your trying to find out how many gallons of liquor there are in the tavern?"

- from the sayings of Ramakrishna

Sri Sri Ramakrishna (February 18, 1836 - August 16, 1886) was a remarkable mysticsaint of Bengal, may God be well pleased with him. For his profound divine wisdom, his spiritual title was the Great Swan (Paramahamsa). He truly was a living example of one whom the sufis call majdhub (God-intoxicated one) of 19th century and still today remains as one of the most celebrated saint.

Born in a simple Brahmin Vaishnava family in rural Bengal, he became priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to goddess Kali, which had the influence of the main strands of Bengali bhakti tradition. His first spiritual teacher was an ascetic woman skilled in Tantra and Vaishnava bhakti. Later an Advaita Vedantin ascetic taught him non-dual meditation, and according to Ramakrishna, he experienced Nirvikalpa Samadhi under his guidance. Ramakrishna also experimented with other religions, notably Islam and Christianity, and said that they all lead to the same God.

I have always felt a great spiritual affinity with Ramakrishna. His great inclusiveness and compassionate love for all faith traditions resonate always and its easy to fall in love with this simple minded yet God intoxicated mystic. One of his remarkable 'Christ like' ability was to speak of highest wisdom using the simplest parables of daily life. Whenever I pick up the Gospel of Ramakrishna (Kathamrita) I instantly fall in love with his words again and again. Its more so perhaps because he is from my native land, he spoke the same language as my mother tongue and embodied the inclusive spiritual nature of this fertile land that have made ample room for multiplicity of spiritual traditions. As a genuine mystic Ramakrishna truly believed at his core that the infinitely expansive Door of Divine Mother welcomes all and excludes none no matter in what form the children of Divine Mother worship and adore Her.

There are many missions established by Ramakrishna and his disciples across India as well as in my native country Bangladesh. Each of this mission not only work as a place for teaching of higher truth but also deeply engaged in wholesome educational and social work. Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Dhaka Ramakrishna Mission located at the junction of Old and New Dhaka.

Even though the mission ground is part of the chaotic city landscape, yet once one enter the compound the energy is quite different, specially surrounding the temple located inside. The library of the mission is also a beautiful resource. I was surprised to find some very good sufi books collected along with books of hindu tradition. It was heart warming to see that the students of Ramakrishna haven't forgotten their master's love for the sufi path.

The interconnectedness of language and that which is conveyed as sacred is a favorite subject of mine. While reading and glancing few books from the mission library on hinduism, what occurred to me is that the spirituality embodied and expressed in the language of the land is far more powerful than spirituality that is foreign and imported. What I mean needs some explanation perhaps.

The hindu tradition (which again is not a monolithic faith, but truly a collection of different streams) - which is native, which nourished and developed in organic way with hundreds and thousand of years from this very land and its people and their experience. Whereas Islam is a relatively new religion, came to this part of the world (Bengal) only about close to or less than one thousand years, by the hands of the saints of Peria (not Arabia, something of note as the mood of spirituality of the two places are quite different). The haqiqa described in the higher teaching of Hinduism if read in the native language for people in this land then is much more accessible to heart and mind than to read in foreign terms. Whenever I read hindu text, the haqiqa (non-dualistic teachings) described there using hindu terminology is never foreign to me, someone born in muslim faith and not familiar with hinduism as such. This speaks for the power of native spirituality, the wisdom tradition of the land and its accessibility to the people of that land. The same principle is applicable for any other native faith tradition and people of that land, whether be in native indian of North America or celtic tradition of North-West Europe.

As the sun was set, I went to visit the temple to pay my respect to Sri Sri Ramakrishna. The temple is quite beautifully surrounded by a peaceful aura and inside is a simple statue of Sri Ramakrishna himself sitting in his familiar lotus posture. There is nothing excess there, except the overflowing devotion. It was time for evening invocation and the devotees sang devotional chant. The students of the mission also gathered in their simple white clothes. It was wonderful to see the young ones in motionless and sitting meditative. Such a rare scene for our time. After a while I came out to enjoy the summer breeze at the garden of the temple, so were multitude of people as well.

Before I decided to leave the mission I came back to the temple (or rather the temple attracted me again) for the last time and found that a devotee is singing with a blissful voice full of devotion a song from Rabindranath Tagore:
"Shukhe Amae Rakhbe Keno,
Rakho Tomar Kole
Jaak na Shukh Jole."

I weak translation is something like this:
'What am I to do with my selfish pleasures,
rather keep me in Your divine lap.
Let all else pass away.'

'Ah! this song is so perfect', I said to myself, specially in remembrance of Ramakrishna who all his life adorned God as Divine Mother. As the devotee finished his song accompanied by harmonium, I watched him as he paid his homage with a beautiful bow to the statue of the Ramakrishna which is there with a great presence to remind the presence of God, in Whom Ramakrishna passed almost his entire life intoxicated and perfumed of the divine fragrance.

Lex Hixon's book on Ramakrishna, The Great Swan is one of the best on this great personality and a spiritual classic of our time.

In review of The Great Swan Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat wrote: "This religious classic by Lex Hixon celebrates the life and work of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), the God-intoxicated sage of Bengal. He states that this is not a conventional biography but a workbook for those on the mystic path. Using extensive quotations from Ramakrishna's lectures, conversations, and parables, the author invites us to "swim in this refreshing, surprising current of love and wisdom." For Hixon, "the Great Swan," as he calls Ramakrishna, is a fully awakened being, "an Einstein of the planetary civilization of the near future." Wherever you turn in this edifying work, you will find fresh images of spiritual meaning."

> Read here an excerpt from the book.

Two friends went into an orchard. One of them possessing much worldly wisdom, immediately began to count the mango trees there and the number of mangoes each tree bore, and to estimate what might be the approximate value of the whole orchard. His companion went to the owner, made friends with him, and then, quietly going into a tree, began at his host's desire to pluck the fruits and eat them. Whom do you consider to be the wiser of the two? Eat mangoes. It will satisfy your hunger. What is the good of counting the trees and leaves and making calculations? The vain man of intellect busies himself with finding out the 'why' and 'wherefore' of creation, while the humble man of wisdom makes friends with the Creator and enjoys His gift of supreme bliss.

- Story by Ramakrishna

# Resources:
. Video Documentary. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Swami Vivekananda (Vedanta Society)
. Video: Memory of Ramakrishna: From Belur Math to Dakshineshwar
. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
. Brief Bio of Ramakrishna
. Ramakrishna: Sufi and Islamic Mysticism
. Ramakrishna: The Man and the Power
. Quotes by Ramakrishna
. Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Dhaka Pin It Now!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Esoteric Dimension and Gnosis of Immanence

Name of Allah Bismillah Sadiq  Alam MysticSaint Calligraphy Allah1.
la ilaha illa Allah

there is no other reality but The Singular Reality

Immanent: \Im"ma*nent\ - Adjective

Present within; inherent; indwelling; abiding; intrinsic;
(of God) permanently pervading the universe. [Oxford]

Immanence: \Im"ma*nence\ - Noun

The condition or quality of being immanent. [1913 Webster]

ORIGIN from Latin immanere ‘remain within’.

... And beware, beware if you believe that our Lord is veiled from us by solid or subtle things: by God, no! illusion (wahm, arbitrary imagination which obscures and misleads) is the only thing which veils Him from us and illusion is empty. As the saint Ibn 'Ata-Illah says in his Hikam: "God is not veiled from you by some reality existing apart from Him, since there is no reality outside of Him; what veils Him from you is but the illusion that there can be a reality apart from Him."

We observe - but God is Perfect Knower - that this extinction takes place, God willing, in the least possible time, by means of a certain method of calling upon the Name of Majesty: Allah.

I came upon this method in the work of the Venerable Master, the Saint Abul-Hasan ash-Shadhili (may God be well pleased with him) ... It consists of visualizing the letters of the Name while saying, Allah, Allah, Allah. Each time the letters dissolved in imagination, I revisualized them and if they dissolved a thousand times during the day and a thousand times during the night, I continued a thousand times a day and a thousand times a night to revisualize them.

This method give me moments of immense insight when I practiced it for a little more than a month at the beginning of my spiritual path. It brought me greater knowledge as well as intense awe (haybah, state when the soul experiences in the face of the terrifying Majesty of God, Jalal), but I paid no heed to it, occupied as I was in calling upon the Name and visualizing the letters until the month ended.

Then a thought forced itself in my attention: "God, be He exalted, says that He is the First and the Last, the Outer and the Inner." (Quran LVII, 2). To being with, I turned away from this thought that crept in, resolved not to listen to it, and I continued to do my exercise; my refusal to listen to it, just as I did not accept its way of acting and did not listen to it. But finally, since it would hardly leave me in peace at all, I answered it: "As for His words saying that He is the First and the Last and that He is the Inner, I understand them quite well; but I do not understand His expression that He is 'the Outer', because all I see on the outside are created things."

To this the voice answered: "If by His expression 'The Outer' He meant something other than the outer world which we see, it would not be outside, but inside (that we would have to look for it). But I say to thee: "He is the Outer." Then I realized that there is no reality save God and nothing in the Cosmos but Him, praise and thank be to God.

- from: Letters of a Sufi Master
by The Shaikh al-Arabi ad-Darqawi

Translated by Titus Burkhardt

The copy I quoted here is First Edition published by Perennial Books, London, 1969. Presently this precious and rare sufi manual is newly published and made available by Fons Vitae.

'Lo! God is nearer to you than your jugular vein' - affirms the Final Testament.

Divine Reality is Qarib, The Near Most, yet Latif, The Most Subtle.

Alas! He is Nearmost but through our veiled perception, negative maya or illusion it is we, and only we who are far from Him! May God elevate our stations so that we may arrive to realize His Presence wheresoever we turn. Indeed that is the reality of 'Garden' in Islamic tradition or 'Kingdom' in Christian tradition, where His Presence is never veiled or absent.

waosjud, waiqtarib.
.. Bow down in adoration, and bring thyself closer.
- The Quran 96:19

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Woes of Addiction to Transcendence

What Christ spoke more than two millennium ago, the living message speaks equally true in our time and now. Then he spoke about the pharisees, the corrupt people of religious garb, self deluded spiritual teachers - all of whom were the archetype of addicts of transcendence in the time of Christ and to greater extent they still are the central villains who maintain, infect and propagate such ignorant addiction.

Rose on BibleAs this servant contemplated over the subject of Addiction to Transcendence, an oracle (consulting and asking for guidance and in surrender opening a page for inspiration) was done with a copy of New Testament. Following is a highlight from the passage which was shown on the first facing pages opened during the Oracle where Christ speaks now as he spoke when he spoke. The brief commentaries on the passages are in italic. Holy benediction be upon Christ and his blessed mother Mary.

Seven Woes from Gospel According to Apostle Matthew

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher .."

When Christ speaks, 'you have only one Master and you are all brothers' he is giving the teaching of immanence (oneness of humankind) descending from the transcendence (divine oneness). At the same time whats important to note that he is advising that the sacred law given to Moses are to be obeyed - which is maintaining our vertical relationship with the Transcendence. So the teaching of addiction to transcendence must not be misunderstood as negating the transcendence but rather honoring its other part, immanence (the horizontal access) and thus making a wholesome relationship which is the condition to become holy.

"The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

Servant is one who is at Service. Christ testifies for us that the station of the servanthood is the highest station. He says that from you those who serve you ('the greatest among you will be your servant') receive the highest honor from the Most High. Infact everything in the creation is at service, thus are instruments through which Divine glory manifests. The symbiosis of nature to the inter-penetrated interconnectedness in everything around us is the undeniable proof that each and everything is in service to each and every 'other'. Thus everything in creation is in the station of perpetual servanthood, is in the dynamic action of service.

There is none in the heavenly and the earthly planes but must come to Most Gracious Lord as a servant. - The Quran 19:93

Even Christ when his mother was challenged of her chastity when she gave birth to the Son of Man, this was the reply from Jesus Christ where he first identify himself as one in service to God, one who is servant of the Most High.

Jesus said: "I am indeed a servant of God: He has given me revelation and made me an awakener (Nabi); And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live. - The Quran, chapter of Mother Mary

When Muhammad, the Last Message bearer, upon him be holy benediction, was asked what is the best personal name one can have, he replied: Abd'Allah - Servant of The One - (Abd meaning servant).

Beatitude Christ Jesus Sermon
As Christ continues to speak in the Gospel of Matthew exposing and condemning the woes of addiction to transcendence, we hear from his holy lips:

"Woe to you, teachers of the religious law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

"Woe to you, teachers of the religious law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it."

The addiction to transcendence is a replacement for the addiction to materialism. The addiction of later type (materialism) has always been present as it was during Christ's time and in the above section Christ was exposing the woes of such addiction.

"Woe to you, teachers of religious law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices- mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

"Woe to you, teachers of religious law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

Using the zen like parable of a cup which is cleaned on outside but left filthy in the inside, Christ gives us the ultimate woe of addiction to transcendence. Through our self delusion of being spiritual and religious, by putting on religious garb and going to temples, churches or mosques we try to fool ourselves by showing outside of the cup clean, yet the real work which is not seen but more real remain undone. As for the cup it is the inside that affects the quality of the drink, similar reality is applicable to the reality which is immanence, here and now which is the most certain reality we are situated in to know and live. The immanence is the living fountain of life from which we must drink by participating in it; thus the cup of our drink must be cleaned, most importantly from inside as well as outside. Yet by ignoring this immanence and shying away from serving the creation which is present in front of us we keep ourselves busy with the addiction of transcendence which Christ inform us with no unambiguous term as 'self-indulgence'. With the sword of haqq (truth) Christ rightly call this attitude hypocrisy and wickedness.

Going back to the words of contemporary mystic and a lover of the sufi path Andrew Harvey, again from The Unknown She published by Golden Sufi:

"It is essential to know and see and experience that the world is the living manifestation of the glory, the power, the radiance of the Father-Mother's unbelievable passion and unbelievable love. .. So you see the world as totally holy. And when you see the world totally holy, you see yourself as totally responsible for the protection of every living thing in the world, and of beauty and of joy in the world, so the Mother's (Divine) truth can play out everywhere.

A Sufi text I love says, 'When you attain union, you are drawn near, and when you are drawn near you never fall asleep and the rays of sublime heartbreak engulf you.'

You see, on the path you're being led to the moment where you can be strong and surrendered enough to see the world in its total divine glory and also to feel the infinite pain of the infinite love that has created this glory and is trying to awaken the entire creation to its presence so that creation can become transfigured with its power and divine justice.

.. It includes the very real initiation into heartbreak, and into the tremendous passion and compassion that arise from the heartbreak, and into the living commitment to direct action in the world that is born from that tremendous compassion. That's Jesus' path, that's the Sufi path, that's the Buddha's path, that's St. Francis' path."

Rose in Hand, Sadiq, MysticSaint Photography4.
In sufi path the term 'heartbreak' has a profoundly different meaning than what it conveys conventionally in romantic sense . Its a condition that comes from identifying in real compassion the sufferings of this tear stained world and thus entering and merging into the ever passionate Heart of God. The sublime heartbreak about which the sufis talk about in the context of turning to immanence and recognizing the Presence of Real in creation is best said in one of the most beautiful saying where God speaks through his servant and instrument, Muhammad, the praised one:

"I Am with the one whose heart is broken for My sake."
- Sacred Tradition of Islam

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Ignorant Addiction to Transcendence

There is a profound ignorance and blindness in our worldview, embodiment and participation in anything we imagine spiritual (and in that matter religious). And this ignorance is our addiction to Transcendence while ignoring Immanence. And I mean not just theological, but in all aspects and dimensions as far as both of these two terms can be expanded. The term "addiction to transcendence" can be defined in many ways.

Addiction to Transcendence is keeping our eyes only to far and beyond while neglecting whats immanent right here, right now. Its neglecting the starving poor on the street corner and busying ourselves going to the mosque or church on an idle morning. Its about not thinking and caring for the poor homeless in the community while preparing a thousands of dollars worth of fancy pilgrimage. Its neglecting our opportunity to serve the divine already within the creation while fantasizing about serving God above the clouds with selfish 'buying into heaven' type so called religious rites.

Perhaps the addiction to transcendence and its result is well illustrated in one of the sacred tradition, found both in Christianity and Islam where God calls out on the Day of Resurrection of all soul saying: 'O children of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed Me', I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was sick and you did not visit Me.' People will exclaim, 'How could we feed You, give You drink or visit You as You are Lord of the World!' God replies: 'Alas, had you fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty and visited the sick, you would have found Me with them.'

Hardly any one gets it to the extent Mother Theresa got it and picked up the sick, the abandoned and dying from the streets of Kolkata, India as she could see the suffering body of Christ in every person lying and suffering beside the road side. The Chishti sufis of India had the tradition of open kitchen to feed the hungry in their lodges because that was one of the most important service for them. Bahauddin Naqshband trained his disciples to build roads in remote places so that people could travel with ease, take the sick to treatment. That was his training of service. Prophet Muhammad taught his holy companions to go and bring atleast one hungry person before they took their meal so that they can get the blessing of breaking bread with someone hungry and poor. They would wait standing at the street corner until they found someone to feed before they could eat themselves and this was even when the host himself was living in abject poverty. Prophet taught simple selflessness by saying that food prepared for two is enough for three, food for three is enough for four. Such is turning to look out for the immanent and not being just addicted to transcendence.

The Unknown She, Hilary Hart, Golden SufiI was recently reading the book, The Unknown She by Hilary Hart, a student of the sufi path and one of the contributor in the book, Andrew Harvey's part really triggered the idea of this modern day crisis: our deeply rooted addiction to transcendence which has already caused tremendous harm to humanity in its lack of reverence to life and everything that is part of us. On one side we see extreme addiction to materialism for those who have lost in touch with their soul and on the side those who pretend to have a touch with their soul have a different kind of addiction which is a denial. For the second group, the addiction has slow poisoned humanity by turning them into extremely selfish beings, in the excuse of being religious or spiritual as is the case of our time.

I am quoting a portion from the book The Unknown She which are statements of Andrew Harvey and I hope to continue a series on this subject sharing my two cents. Your thoughts and ideas are also welcome.


"First you have to realize that everything you have ever been told about the divine is prejudiced by patriarchal distortions that define the divine almost obsessively in transcendent not immanent terms."

"The addiction to transcendence keeps everybody in a coma, tells you your emotions are too much, your desires are absurd and obscene, your passion for justice are naive. This addiction, in fact, is the ultimate heroin because it keeps you high, self-absorbed, and falsely detached."

"Supposing you told people the truth? Suppose you told people that the real use of detachment is only to help you fight for truth and love more purely? It is only so your love can become more intense and focused. What would you have then? You'd have an empowered human race that wouldn't accept anything it didn't know for itself as true!"

"Transcendence is the first real knowledge on the path. It's crucial, but then you have to learn about love. Don't you think that Jesus could have made all these transcendent junkies look like twerps? .. He knew that the only truth lay in serving and loving every single living thing! So you have to go down on your hands and knees and kiss every living thing. That's about service. About service and being slave. Its has nothing to do with authority, nothing to do with being enlightened. That's the patriarchal world! She's (Divine Feminine, Unknown She) bringing in a wholly different world in which the last really are the first. And there are no masters who aren't slaves!

The last thing Jesus tried to do was break people's projections on him by dressing as a female slave and washing their feet. Of course no one got the meaning of that, because it's too deranging. The Mother's world is too deranging!"

Cat Billy B, Shaykh's Cat"Suppose we see that eternity really is in a grain of sand? Supposing we see that a cat is a totally holy creature, incredibly wise, and instead of thinking of it as stuck on the lower end of evolutionary scale, we start talking to a cat, and learning from the cat the secrets of serenity and secrets of divine mischief?"

"Supposing we do reverse the whole human craziness and start listening to Her (The Unknown She, The Beholder of Womb of Compassion, Rahm, Rahma)? All of this stuff goes! The whole authority structure goes, the elite goes, the churches go, the mystical system with their prizes to the boys who play the game go. It all goes! And only She is here, radiating love between hearts, between all the hearts of all the creation, and that's what She's trying to bring here. Because from that will come the real harmony, the real community of all human beings."

The value of service over our addiction to Transcendence and disillusion about being religious or spiritual by performing religious rites, saying prayers, turning beads or memorizing prayer manuals is greatly illustrated in a sufi work of 10th century Iraq: The animals lawsuit against humanity:

“One of the most touching stories in early Arabic history relates the tale of the Sufi from Baghdad, Abu Bakr al-Shibli (d. 945) who dies and was seen by one of his friends in a dream. On being asked what God had done to him, he said that he had been granted admission to Paradise but was asked by the Lord if he knew the reason for this blessing. Shibli enumerated all his religious duties - fasting and praying, performing the Pilgrimage and giving alms – but none of these acts of piety had saved him.

Sufis Cat in Coat
Finally the Lord asked him, ‘Do you remember the cold day in Baghdad when it was snowing and you were walking in your coat when you saw a tiny kitten on a wall shivering with cold, and you took it and put it under your warm coat? For the sake of this kitten We have forgiven you.’”

That's my friend what it means by turning to Immanent rather than ignorant addiction to transcendence. Sufi saint Ibn Ata'illah said "The best of what you can seek from Allah is what He seeks from you," and serving His creation with loving kindness (rahma) is what He seeks from us. May God open our vision and give us the strength to be in real service, here and now, while we still been blessed to breath in and breath out.

# Related:
. I Am in all My creation
. Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet | loving the creation for the sake of loving the Creator
. Stop Being So Religious | Hafiz
. Sacred Activism of Andrew Harvey

# Next Posts in the Series:
. Woes of Addiction to Transcendence
. Esoteric Dimension and Gnosis of Immanence

Cat on Green/ Photo: B, Yohosame Cameron
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

the Secret Direction that Leads Directly to Him

Divine Space1.
After God arranged the six directions -

and Below -

one direction was still left to be placed; the most powerful of all, the one containing the greatest wisdom and strength, the one which led directly to Him.

God looked to place this Seventh, Secret Direction where it could not easily be found.

It was finally hidden in the heart of man, for He knew it would be the last place that humans usually look.

- adopted from American Native Indian Tradition

And (have We not) built over you the seven firmaments? and placed therein a blazing lamp. - The Quran 78:12-13

God is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number. Through the midst of them (all) descends His Command: that ye may know that God has power over all things, and that God encompasses all things in Knowledge. - The Quran 65:12

And surely your Lord is Mighty, The Singularly Compassionate and surely this revelation is of the Lord of the Worlds. Brought down by the Faithful Spirit upon your heart (qalb).. - The Quran 26:191-94

Ahmad, the celestially praised one, one day addressing his holy companions pronounced while pointing his finger towards his inner heart: Taqwa (God consciousness and divine awe) is here! is here! is here! - Sacred tradition of Islam

O God,
give me light in my heart
and light in my tongue
light in my hearing
and light in my sight
and light in my feeling
and light in all body
and light before me
and light behind me.

Give me, I pray Thee,
Light on my right hand
And light on my left hand
And light above me
And light beneath me,

O Lord,
Increase light within me
And give me light
And illuminate me.

- Prophet Muhammad's Light Prayer

Meditation on Divine Space: This Jewish meditation is a model for orienting oneself within a space whose parameters are defined by the six commandments that continuously govern our relationship to God.

Into our own Divine space that we have now constructed around ourselves, our own personal messianic spark will reveal itself. May we be inspired to redeem ourselves, with God's help, from our own state of exile, and to redeem all of the world around us.

:: Play the Meditation Audio
guided by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

# Related:
. Jewish meditation on Divine Space
. Native Indian Mysticism and Sufi Spirits
. The theory of six dimensions
. About Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh Pin It Now!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Kishangarh Painting | Art Inspired by Religion of Love

Kishangarh Painting, Radha and Krishna1.
All great art owes to the inspiration of religion. When spring comes, trees burst into blossoms. What spring is to the trees, inspiration is to human race. All creative art activity, such as architecture, sculpture, painting, poetry and music is an expression of spiritual joy felt by sensitive people.

A great art was born in the wake of Buddhism. The cave temples of Ajanta were decorated with paintings of sublime beauty. In Central Asia, China and Japan, Buddhism sparked a great art movement which inspired the construction of beautiful pagodas, gardens of peace and calm, poetry and painting. In Java, Buddhism inspired the construction of the greatest sculpture gallery of the world, the temple of Borobuddhur.

The inspiration of Islam gave birth to the noble mosques of Cordoba, Cairo, Baghdad and Isfahan. Their graceful domes and minarets decorated with tiles of great beauty, commune with heaven and indicate how love for beauty burst out, even from an austere faith which forbade sculpture and painting (when made for worship purpose).

Christianity inspired the sublime architecture of the Gothic cathedrals of Chartres, Amiens, Rhiems and Milan, and the great paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Giotto and Coreggio.

Similarly the beautiful religion of Love in India, that is the cult of Sri Krishna as well as sufi influences inspired the great paintings of Kishangarh.

Founded in 1597, the town of Kishnagarh is famous for its finest school of miniature paintings in the 18th century. Kishnagarh is only 27km away from Ajmer which is the famous town where the celebrated sufi saint Khwaja Mu'inuddin Chishti's body is laid to final rest and hence a sacred site of pilgrimage. What makes the miniature paintings of Kishangarh distinct is that they are specially influenced by two Religious School of Love: Vaishnavite and Sufism.

According to many historians, Indian paintings began in the caves of Ajanta and evolved into the Pala and Jain styles. During early sixteenth century the Persian infusion came into play. Under the patronage of Akbar there was a true cultural cross-fertilization between the Persian techniques and India tradition, and a style of painting known as Mughal, whcih is truly Indian in spirit, evolved.

The beauty of Rajput paintings (Kishnagarh belongs to such school) is greatly inspired by the love of Radha, Krishna and the mythical human lover between them transcend itself to become divine love.

A. K. Coomaraswamy, mystic, scholar and historian while commenting on Kishangarh painting wrote: "Such paintings must always intimately appeal to those who are attracted by Indian life and thought, and above all to those who realize that they form the last visual records of an order that is rapidly passing away never to return.

In any case, this ethos is unique; what Chinese art achieved for landscape is here accomplished for human love. The arms of lovers are about each others neck, eye meets eye, the whispering Sakhis speak of nothing else but the course of Krishna's courtship, the very animals are spellbound by the sound of Krishna's flute and the elements stand still to hear the ragas and raginis. This art is only concerned with the realities of life; above all, with passionate love service, conceived as the symbol of all union. Rajput art creates a magic world where all men are heroic, all women are beautiful, passionate and shy, beast both wild and tame are friends of man and trees and flowers are conscious of the footsteps of the bridegroom as he passes by. This magic world is not unreal or fanciful, but a world of imagination and eternity, visible to all who do not refuse to see with the transfiguring eyes of love."

Kishangarh Miniature Painting3.
When al-Biruni, the famous muslim polymath, the first anthropologist and islamic scholar came to India in 1017 AD, the religion of the people of India was mostly Vaishnava. Eleventh century witnessed a great rise of Vaishnavite philosophy that taught that way to peace and happiness is through bhakti (loving devotion) and that bhakti is only to be obtained through grace. At the close to twelfth century, the famous Bengali poet Jayadeva wrote Gita Govinda on the love of Radha Krishna, a celestial love affair in human kingdom. In this period the devotion school of Radha Krishna became the religion of love.

By the middle of thirteenth century Islam was firmly established in India and during this time forward Sufism influenced Hinduism greatly. The sufi position of union with God through devotional love was seen a mirror reflection and complementary to the devotion of Krishna in Vaishnavite sect of Hinduism. Vedantic idea of Oneness found its appreciation in the Supreme Oneness of Allah and Islam's teachings.

Kishangarh Painting, Radha and Krishna Miniature Art India Mughal RajasthaniThe sufi way of inducing mystic ecstasy such as music, poetry and recitation of the sacred name of God were adopted by Chaitanya (1486-1533), the prophet of Vaishnavism in Bengal. According to Chaitanya, God or Krishna who is the representation of God on earth is the lover and the soul of man is his bride represented by Radha, For describing the stages of Radha's love for Krishna, the analogy of human love was adapted.

The first stage is the awakening of love. The next is the meeting of lovers, followed by sambhoga or union. Then comes grief in separation, symbolized by the anguish suffered by the gopis of Vrindavana when Krishna goes to Mathura. Finally comes bhavasammilana or spiritual marriage.

Chaitanya comes to the realization that love is the supreme regulating principle of the universe. The universe is a poem, and the spiritual soul alone is privileged to reap its deep poetry.

# Reference:
. Text and Photo credit: Kishnagarh Painting by M. S. Randhawa and D. S. Randhawa

. About the paintings, from top:
1. Portraits of Radha and Krishna (1750), artist Nihal Chand
2. Rama, Lakshman and Sita in Exile in the Forest (1820), partial here
3. Dalliance (1760) Pin It Now!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Birdsong From Inside The Egg

Birdsong from Inside the EggLike the ground turning green
in a spring wind.
Like birdsong beginning inside the egg.
Like this universe coming into existence,
the lover wakes and whirls in a dancing joy
then kneels down in praise.

Sometimes a lover of God may faint
In the presence. Then the Beloved bends
And whispers in his ear, “Beggar, spread out
Your robe. I’ll fill it with gold.
I’ve come to protect your consciousness.
Where has it gone? Come back into awareness.”

This fainting is because
Lovers want so much.

A chicken invites a camel into her henhouse,
And the whole structure is demolished.
A rabbit nestles down
With its eyes closed
In the arms of a lion.

There is an excess
In spiritual searching
That is profound ignorance.

Let that ignorance be our teacher!

The Friend breathes into one
who has no breath.

A deep silence revives the listening
And the speaking of those two who meet on the riverbank.

Like the ground turning green
in a spring wind.
Like birdsong beginning inside the egg.
Like this universe coming into existence,
The lover wakes, and whirls
in a dancing joy,
then kneels down in praise.

- Rumi & Coleman Barks
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

zen of la ilaha illallah

Kobayashi is wandering for hours in the bewildering narrow lanes of a strange small town of Macedonia. He can hardly pronounce any names of towns or streets in this part of the world properly, nor is he interested in keeping count of how many towns he has traveled so far since a strange attraction and series of dreams have compelled him to find himself in this Balkan land. Its been a strange journey, Kobayashi sighs. No sooner had he said that to himself, his eyes fell upon a bright yellow, red painted house door. The building somehow had a very mystic aura around it that attracted Kobayashi near it. He couldn't tell if it was a private or a public building. As he stood still, not knowing what he should do, an old man with long beard and white cap came out of the red yellow door and his eyes fell straight upon that of Kobayashi.

A warm smile spread through his face which is covered by the beard like a veil, yet there was a translucent light permeated all over his face. Kobayashi felt relieved that at least he can ask about the building to this man who now looks like a Rabbi to him. With broken English Kobayashi try to explain that he is a tourist and new in this land and felt this building to be very charming.

The old man invited him inside for drinking tea saying he would love to tell more about this modest building. The invitation made Kobayashi very happy in his heart, though he didn't realize exactly why.

As he entered the small one storied building, his eyes became habituated to the dimmer light inside and saw few other men sitting in a perfect circle, mostly in silence. Kobayashi was given a place to sit on the thick carpet where rest of the men were sitting. Soon a young boy served them tea and some sweets. As he sips from the small tea cup, the old man who invited him informed that this building is an old sufi tekke or lodge where dervishes gather to chant divine name together, to drink and eat together and to have sohbet (spiritual conversation).

The words sufi and dervish sound similar to Kobayashi, he must have read about them somewhere. The man continues to say that 'this lodged is established for more than eight hundred years. It was established by saintly masters of our path and is still maintained and have been used since then to hold sufi gathering. As if he could see what Kobayashi was wondering, the old man said, sufis are the mystics of islam and they have only one longing, the Face of the Beloved.' As he pronounced the word Beloved, his voice changed and he said it slowly with reverence.

'Soon we will have our chant. You are most welcome to join us. As you are led to come to us, God willing, it will be a gift to your soul. Before we begin let me explain the chant that we shall be doing shortly.

We shall be using a seed, as a mantra for chanting which is: 'la ilaha illallah'. Its a very zen chant, saying which the old man gave him a wink and further said, let me explain the zen of 'la ilaha illallah' and I am sure you will understand it better than many here. Oddly enough he winked at him again.

Kobayashi's inside was filled with wonder. How come this old man know about his path! Since he has left his old identity in the zen temple from the shadow of giant Fuji mountain in Japan, where he was a zen master, this is the first time some one has mentioned about the word zen. After becoming a very adept zen master in his own discipline, over the past few years his dissatisfaction grew and grew. He felt so much disconnection from his spirit and somehow all the zazen meditation, koans and noble truths seemed so empty and void. In fact such dissatisfaction partly has led him to journey in this faraway land. And he couldn't believe that a strange sufi dervish, a muslim mystic in such a faraway land will explain his chant in zen.

After giving some pause, as if to let Kobayashi understand the significant of what he said with the two winks, the sufi dervish who now appear to be the head of this gathering says thus:

'No amount of word can do justice to explain the meaning of 'la ilaha illallah'. It has oceans of meaning, and each of such oceans are without shore. Since you are from foreign land, let me explain the literal meaning of this sacred verse first even though we are not people of literal meanings. But one has to begin somewhere.

la means 'no'.
ilaha is 'deity', anything worthy of worship, divine reality.
illa means 'except'.
The word 'Allah' is derived from a contraction of the arabic definite article al- "the" and ʼilah "deity, god", so al-lah meaning "the [sole] deity, God", ho theos monos.

So together it becomes, there is no deity but The Deity. there is no god but The God. With every inbreath illallah, every outbreath la ilaha.

Yes one meaning of it helped remove the idea of polytheism from the less evolved spiritual minds of the past who again and again fell into polytheism and forgot the Oneness. No Messenger came but gave this formula to his people, asked people to shun all idols and turn to One Divine Oneness. Thus it is considered the central doctrine of Universal Religion of Divine Submission and Realization of Supreme Oneness. It is the central message from Adam to Abraham, from Moses to Jesus and finally to Muhammad and we sufis are the protector and doorkeeper of this message.

la ilaha illallah in its most simple construction- no God but God, is very zen because its utterly paradoxical in nature, affirms that which it negates in its beginning. Empty the cup before you can take in and what we are taking in is the summation of the whole cosmos and our human consciousness is a cup, the microcosm.

Our master Mustafa said, "By Him in Whose hand is my soul, if the heavens and the earth and all that are in them and everything that is in between were brought and placed in one side of the Divine Balance, and the witnessing that la ilaha illallah were placed in the other, the latter would outweigh the former."

'The zen beauty of 'la ilaha illallah' is that it is the condensed form and key to enlightenment. We do not seek enlightenment in anywhere else, not in disconnected ascetic practices, nor in hiding away in mountain cave or jungle but only in our realization of this mantra, la ilaha illallah. Our enlightenment is to realize that Only Divine Reality Alone Is - which is one level of transmission of the formula. Thus we strive to see the Emptiness, the Grand Emptiness, The One Who has Hid Himself by Becoming Zero, Batin - in Full Manifestation in His Infinite Manifestation, Zahir.

If you truly meditate on the Enso, the Zen Circle, you will realize the zen paradox of la ilaha illallah. What the ancient enlightened master who drew the Enso conveyed in painting Enso, we say the same reality thus: "Hu encompasses everything and nothing encompasses Hu." Hu is the Name of the Beloved. Ofcourse Zen is void of any personal attribute of Divine Reality, but we in our devotional love wish to arrive realization through our personal devotion which colour attributes of Divine Reality in comprehensible personal term. The bridge to reaching Divine Transcendence is Immanence.'

Saying this the old dervish becomes silent, so is everyone in the room. As if time has stopped, something is shifting inside Kobayashi. And right then the old dervish recited a poem so profound and so beautiful that it reduced him into tears.

'Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine mountains, and the maker of canyons and pine mountains! All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions of stars. The acid that tests gold is here, and the one who judges jewels. And the music that comes from the strings that no one touches, and the source of all water.'

Silence again and then started the remembrance ceremony. First the old dervish began with la ilaha illallah and all joined with him. The first half 'la ilaha' they recite softly and 'illallah' with great stress. Kobayashi felt like sitting inside hundreds of invisible boom boxes. The small lodge was soaring with the sound and vibration of the chant and before he knew anything Kobayashi was repeating the same and entered into a trance unlike anything ever before. That evening he was given a small taste what these sufi dervishes taste from the fountain of la ilaha illallah.

He Alone is the Knower of the Unseen, and He reveals unto none His Mysteries. - The Quran 72:26

How! Are they still in doubt about the meeting with their Lord?
Lo! Is not He encompassing all things? - The Quran 42:54

# Related:
. Qadiri Sufis of Chechnia and their remembrance ceremony via youtube
. Tahlil: lâ ilâha illâ allâh
. La ilaha illa-Allah | God alone is
. The Zen Circle

. Sufis of Kosovo and Greater Balkan
. Glimpse of Sufism in Balkan
. Death and Dervish: Tale of a Bosnian Sufi
. Song of Bosnian Dervishes
. Baba Edmond Brahimaj, A Balkan Sufi

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Monday, April 13, 2009

a solitary cloud has no fixed home

Clouds Solitary Beautiful Sky Blue
When you, O wild monk,
come to say good-bye,
we sit for a while
by the sandy creek.

On far roads,
you hold out an empty bowl;
deep in mountains,
walk on fallen flowers.

Having no masters, you
puzzle out Zen on your own;
observing strict prosody,
your poems merit praise.

This going-away
has no circumstantial cause;
a solitary cloud
has no fixed home.

- Original Poem title: Farewell to a Monk by Chia Tao, translation by Mike O'Connor, from the book: Where the World does Not Follow - Buddhist China in Picture and Poem

This going-away
has no circumstantial cause;
a solitary cloud
has no fixed home.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ahmad al-Alawi: a Sufi Saint who resembled Christ

Photo of Shaykh Ahmad al Alawi

The Sun's Light shineth
in the Moon of the dark.
I am of its branches,
and It is my Root.

Our intelligences
are made drunk
with the wine of love,
As though we were mad,
yet mad we are not.

Thou seest us among men, but we are not as thou seest,
For our Spirits shine clear above the highest heights.

Ours is an intelligence, a flawless jewel,
Exquisite in beauty; it perceiveth naught but God.
This is the bond which bindeth, be it but a glimmering.

Folk, ye are welcome, the elect of your Lord,
The works of His Art, made perfect for Himself.
You hath He privileged by lifting the veil
From the Light of His Face. What gratitude can give thanks
For the Infinite? Yet give what gratitude ye may
Unto Him who hath vouchsafed what transcendeth all price.

Exult then upon the Throne and upon the soil of earth,
for ye, none but ye, are the slaves of God.
In your bodies that were bone-dust have life
For ye are of God's Spirit that entered into Adam.
Breath that Gabriel breathed into Mary.
Dance then in ecstasy and pride and joy,
and trail ye the robes of the glory that is your due.

- Poetry by Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi

Referred as one of the most celebrated mystic saint of contemporary time Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi (1869 - 14, July 1934), may God hallow his blessed face, master guide of 'Alawiya order and a Shadhili sufi in his line of transmission - is an unforgettable and extra-ordinary human being. He himself didn't feel doubt of his being a mujaddid (renewer, confirmer and proof of eternal faith) which the Holy Messenger Muhammad, upon him be benediction, had promised in every century. The previous before him unquestionably was the great Shaykh Ad-Darqawi himself, his lineage master. Shaikh Ahmad al-Alawi was born at Mostaganem, Algeria in 1869. His full name was Abul 'Abbas Ahmad ibn Mustafa al-Alawi.

A little less than a year before his birth his mother Fatimah saw in her sleep the Prophet with a jonquil flower in his hand. He looked her full in the face and smiled at her and threw the flower to her, whereupon she took it up with humble modesty. When she woke, she told her husband of the vision, and he interpreted it as meaning that they would be blessed with a pious son, and he had in fact been importuning God not to leave him without an heir ... and after a few weeks God confirmed her dream, and she conceived her son.

Shaykh al-Alawi's influence was pivotal to the spiritual development of many including that of westerns such as Thomas Merton, who looked to al-Alawi's writings and teachings in his own practice (see Fons Vitae's Merton and Sufism and post on Thomas Merton and Sufism). Also Shaykh's European followers include the French anarchist painter Gustave-Henri Jossot and the Swiss mystic and philosopher Frithjof Schuon.

Shaykh with Christ-like Face

Many easterners and westerners alike, who have visited Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi couldn't help but taken aback by the awe inspiring presence of his luminous being and at the same time many have shared a common experience that Shaykh al-Alawi resembles very much that of the appearance of Christ. If one to wonder how Christ would look like if he lived till his mature age, one has to look at some rare photograph of Shaykh al-Alawi and this resemblance that confirmed in the heart of many was confirmed in repeated spiritual visions and veridical dreams.

Quoting from the Book, A Sufi Saint in the Twentieth Century: "The narrative which follows is by Dr Marcel Carret. It speaks for itself and needs no introduction; and having read it, the reader will no doubt understand why I have chosen to begin with it rather than with anything else, although at its outset the Shaikh is already fifty years old.

‘From my first contact with him I had the impression of being in the presence of no ordinary personality. The room I was shown into, like all rooms in Moslem houses, was without furniture. There were simply two chests which, as I found out later, were full of books and manuscripts. But the floor was covered from end to end with carpets and rush mats. In one corner was a rug-covered mattress, and here, with some cushions at his back, sitting straight upright, cross-legged, with his hands on his knees, was the Shaikh, in a motionless hieratic attitude which seemed at the same time perfectly natural.

‘The first thing that struck me was his likeness to the usual representations of Christ. His clothes, so nearly if not exactly the same as those which Jesus must have worn, the fine lawn head-cloth which framed his face, his whole attitude - everything conspired to reinforce the likeness. It occurred to me that such must have been the appearance of Christ when he received his disciples at the time when he was staying with Martha and Mary."

One student of the path shared a vision he had where he saw the moon cloven in two. Then a plank was let down from it on chains, nearer and nearer the earth until it was only a little above us and we could see on it the Master al-Alawi - may God be pleased with him! and beside him is Sayyidna Isa (our Liege-Lord Jesus) - on him be Peace! Then a crier stood up and cried out: "Whoever wishes to see Jesus - on him be Peace! with the Supreme Master, they are both here, descended from Heaven, so let him come with all speed." Then the earth trembled and shook and all upon it were shaken, and all the people gathered together and asked to mount up beside the Master on that plank, but he said, "Stay where you are, and we will come back to you."

Shaikh Hasan ibn Adal al-Aziz described his own vision:

I had a vision in which I was in the valley of the town of Tlemcen, and it was filled with a large crowd of people who were waiting for the descent from Heaven of Jesus - on him be Peace! and then a man descended and the people said: 'This is Jesus', and when I was able to see his face I found that he was the Shaikh Sidi Ahmad Bin Aliwah - may God be pleased with him.

Another similar comparable vision was recounted by the great grandson of the founder of the Darqawi tariqah as well.

Photo of Shaykh Ahmad al AlawiFinally there was a vision confirmed by Sidi Ahmad ibn Hajji at-Tilimsani:

'Whilst I was absorbed in the invocation of the Supreme Name I saw the letters of Majesty fill the whole universe, and out of them shone the Prophet himself in a luminous form - may God whlem him in Glory and give him Peace! Then the letters manifested themselves in another shape, and I saw in them the face of Shaikh Sidi Ahmad Bin Aliwayh, and on it was written Mustafa Ahmad Bin Aliwah. Then I heard a voice say: "Witnesses! Observers!" Then the letters were manifested a third time, in the image of the Shaikh with a crown on his head, and while we looked a bird alighted on his head and spoke to me, saying: "Behold, this is the station (maqam) of Jesus - Peace be on him!"

"The Gnostics are ranged in hierarchy: the knower of his Lord and the knower of himself; the knower of himself is stronger in Gnosis than the knower of his Lord.

The veiled are ranged in hierarchy: the veiled from his Lord, and the veiled from himself. And the veiled from himself is more heavily veiled than the veiled from his Lord.

Neither abandon thy soul, nor oppose it, but go along with it and search it for what is in it. Whoso hath known God in his soul returneth unto it and seeketh to gratify its longings."

- Gnostic sayings of Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi, al Fatiha to his blessed soul.

# Further.
. Biography of Shaykh Alawi
. The Shadili Darqawi Alawi Sufi Path
. Two Who Attained - Twentieth-Century Sufi Saints: Shaykh Ahmad al-'Alawi & Fatima al-Yashrutiyya
. Sheikh Ahmad ibn Mustafa al-Alawai
. Seeking the Barakah of Sufi Shuyukh

# Related.
. Vision of Christ
. Jesus in Eyes of Sufi
. Jesus the Sufi Master
. Jesus and the Hermit Pin It Now!

God is like that

Beautiful Landscape that reminds God1.
Once in a setting of unsurpassable grandeur one of the Shaikh's disciples said to me, with a movement of his hand towards mountains towering with pine-forested slopes and summits white with snow, and blue sky with white clouds and half-hidden sunlight: 'God is like that';

and I understood in that moment with far more than mere mental understanding, that if it were not for the Divine Beauty everything that lay before my eyes would vanish in an instant.

- from the marvelous book, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century: Shaikh Ahmad al-Alawi, his spiritual heritage and legacy by Martin Lings

Landscape of Salzburg, Austria, Sadiq Alam, MysticSaintSalzburg, Austria | photo, sadiq

During a visit to Central Europe back in 2006 for an academic conference, I was blessed to have the opportunity to visit Salzburg, Austria, the city mostly famous for its splendid landscape, for being the birthplace of Mozart and for the classic movie, The Sound of Music. When I visited the surrounding landscape, specially when I traveled to this mountain top where the clouds passing below the summit, mysts and silence merging with each other - the tremendous beauty that even can not be imagined by the most talented artistic imagination and I came face to face this grandeur of beauty that is so vivid, I had an experience unlike anything before.

The beauty was so intense that all I wanted to do was to die, right there, right then. Beauty which is beyond our ideas of beyond, that can make one wish to escape from this prison of body is something I was so unaware. It was beauty revealed in what sufis call Jalal, in its Awesome Majesty and Power. Later I realized how the intensity of beauty merged with a certain state of our being can take away some veils from our heart and create such a desire to flee this existence to the Unknown. Perhaps this is what Rumi calls as tendency 'to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.' Reading that section (shared above) from Martin Lings book reminded me of the reality of reflection of the Divine Beauty etched upon nature.

Love keeps revealing to me that once hearts have touched
and felt their oneness, the bond is never broken,
and the beauty of it slips quietly into the soul,
where it is never lost.

- Naomi

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