Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An American Sufi Quest / Sohbet with Mansur Johnson

Show us the straight path,
The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace.
- Invocation of the Opening (al-Fatiha), 6,7

Murshid Samuel L. Lewis (Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti), may God be pleased with him, was a remarkable Human being and a Sufi Master from many dimensions of his being who he was, and notably he was the first western born Sufi Teacher. Among those who enjoyed the blessing of the presence of this beautiful human being and was fortunate enough to sit near and receive from him is Mansur Johnson (Otis B. Johnson). Mansur is the author of the book, Murshid: a personal memoir of life with American Sufi Samuel L. Lewis where he details his three-year association with his Sufi Teacher in the San Francisco Bay area during the late 1960s. We are very fortunate to share here an exchange with Mansur Johnson in the spirit of what Sufis call Sohbet (sacred companionship).

The questions came from Sadiq and other visitors of the blog via the post: In preparation of Sohbet with Mansur Johnson, author of "Murshid".

3. Sohbet

Every true Murshid, a Master who is given the grace and responsibility to guide souls is like a Sun. Shams, the Mystic Master of Rumi - his name literally meant Sun and he was indeed one such Sun that awakened a new dawn in Rumi's life that changed forever his life by a mystical illumination and became guiding light and inspired his life's work. We find remnants of Shams in Murshid Sam. How big was his influence and in what way in your own life after you met him?

Mansur and Sufi Sam
Mansur Johnson: If I can riff on your opening before I get to the question, I would say Murshid considered himself the Shams to Pir Vilayat Khan’s Rumi. Consider that Murshid had been a disciple of Pir Vilayat’s father, Hazrat Inayat Khan (HIK). Along comes the son. It was very dramatic the first meetings. I was very curious myself, and, as I write in the book (Murshid), organized an expedition to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles to obtain the teachings of the son. Since I was in the process of reading and indexing the 12 volumes written by HIK, the first thing I noticed was that Pir Vilayat was doing his own thing.

Murshid’s influence on my life was total. Sometimes I describe my 3 years with Murshid as doing post-graduate work in Oriental Philosophy. If you’re working for an advanced degree, that’s your life for that time. That’s how it was when I was with Murshid. And then when Murshid died, and I had received what I had received, let’s call it the privilege of close proximity to the teacher, I felt I had to give to others what I had received. Thus began a decade of giving back.

For East obedience and surrender to a Teacher is easily understood as it is part of the culture. But in the West such obedience and surrender which is required towards a Teacher, specially in a Sufi Path is often resisted by the mind, give rise to a cult-like insecurity. Do you think when it comes to Spiritual Transmission the Teacher Student relationship model has become obsolete in our time?

No, the teacher-student relationship model is not obsolete. It goes on all the time in academia. People have mentors. But obedience is not required in academic life or in Sufism. Al-Hujwiri said, “There is no compulsion in Sufism.” Murshid quoted this all the time. Surrender is a different matter. It is necessary to surrender, to make a willing suspension of your own beliefs and opinions if you want to have a chance to gain something from another in the spiritual world or the academic world. The difference between mentoring in academic life and the spiritual life is that what you gain from a mentor in the academic life is usually not spiritually liberating. Interaction with a spiritual teacher has the possibility of spiritual realization. I recommend The Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty, by Hazrat Inayat Khan. It is in volume 5 of my 1962 edition of The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Did you have dreams of Murshid Sam after his passing? Is there any remarkable dream transmission that you would like to share with us? Any special instruction by Sam in terms of work.

No, not that I recall.  Before his passing, when I did tassawuri Murshid, which is fana-fi-Sheikh, I had lots of dreams, because I was thinking all the time about the teacher. But after his passing, not so many.  I think the reason for that is that after Murshid’s passing I went directly  from fana-fi-Sheikh to fana-fi-Allah, mostly skipping even fana-fi-Rasul. Fana is usually translated annihilation; or more meaningfully, attunement to or effacement in. The terms refer to concentration on one’s living teacher (Sheikh), concentration on Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, or another world messenger (Rasul), and God.

How did Mansur continued his contribution to the Sufi Work after Samuel Lewis left his body?

As mentioned above, I carried on Murshid’s work by working furiously for 10 years after Murshid’s passing, giving to others all over North America and Canada what I had received from him--at weekend seminars and workshops and camps, in the form of leading dances, teaching the spiritual and astrological walks, and starting a Sufi School to offer a deeper training to those who were attracted.

I was with Murshid for 3 years. I offered two three year classes at my school during the 10 years from 1971 to 1981 that I was an active teacher. There were three houses of students connected with the school. So much for my public offering. Privately, the book Murshid that I began during the 70s took some 36 years to complete. I consider the book an important contribution.

As we know that it was Pir Moinuddin who was appointed the successor by Murshid to carry the Message. What became Mansur's role?

One of Murshid’s disciples remarked after Murshid’s passing, “We’re all Murshid now.” Obviously, the successor has all the responsibility, and for 30 years Moineddin shouldered the burden. Moineddin was my best friend from before our Sufi days. Little by little, I’m posting “Letters from Moineddin” at, as a sort of book in progress. 

Pir Moineddin Jablonski  (1942 - 2001)
When you become successor, you have the organization to deal with. While I was in on the early organizational meetings, I thought I knew what to do and when everybody didn’t agree with me, I became impatient with them and felt frustrated in my ability to function freely. I finally stepped out. My role, as I defined it, was to function like Murshid on the East Coast in Boston, while my spiritual brothers and sisters were doing the difficult work of learning to function as a group on the West Coast. I always considered myself part of them, but I was free from any constraints. Especially free, because I remained in the Sufi Order with Pir Vilayat when he orchestrated the exit of the West Coast Sufis from the Sufi Order and caused them to take refuge in the Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society, a name given to Murshid by Sufi Barkat Ali from Lahore, Pakistan.

Question from Readers: How spiritual "component" works concerning our "thought-processes"? Science says "neurons" are fired into our brains which give rise to thoughts (any thought for example). This then triggers our nervous system, which in turn moves our bodies, whatever our thought has asked us to do. The mystery here is, does our thoughts first move the neurons, or is it the "neurons" that first triggers our thoughts ?

This is a sort of chicken-egg question to which I would answer that first there is the feeling, then the thought. We feel hungry, a sensation in the stomach, the digestive juices in an uproar, which get our attention. After which, perhaps, the mind formulates a thought: I am hungry. So before the thought, there is the growling in the stomach. Then the thought, I am hungry. As Sufis we were trained to develop the feeling, develop the thought, and then act. From way back the motto of my Sufi School, The Einstein Academy, was “Feeling before thought.” I took that saying from the physicist Albert Einstein, who answered thusly when asked, “What is the secret of your genius?” In your formulation, I would give the nod to the neurons.

What is your most important realization after walking so many years in the Sufi Path and what you see your life's work?

To the first, I would say that my most important realization was that one’s life is a work of art. And that one should create one’s life as a work of art. I am grateful for the tools that I have received from many spiritual disciplines that have helped me to develop for myself the Art of Living that works for me, including right breathing, right eating, feeling, right thinking, right acting.

I see my life’s work as assimilating the lessons I’ve learned and manifesting in action what is before me to do. My life as an activist started with air pollution in California in the 60s. I was doing Greek Dancing in Oakland and one of the Greeks was a State Senator. It came about that California was the first to  develop tough laws regarding auto emissions. Then, in the 70s my dual projects were anti-nuclear activism at Seabrook, New Hampshire, and a lawsuit, which prevented small towns in New England from financing more nuclear capacity than necessary. A victory there denied half a billion dollars in construction funds and a second unit at Seabrook was not built. At the same time, I lobbied for renewable energy, especially Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. My book Shamcher, a memoir of Bryn Beorse’s struggle to bring ocean energy to the United States tells the story. (see  This endeavor continues to this day. Then, after various trips to Guatemala, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela, I advocated for changes in United States foreign policies in articles found at

In Sufi Path (as well as other spiritual movement) there has always been a tension between traditional, orthodox way and the new formation, unorthodoxy. In the book Murshid we clearly see Sufi Sam often wrote in defence of his unorthodoxy to orthodox or traditionalist Sufis. Did the position of Sufi Sam remained the same throughout his life? What did he communicate to you regarding this?

This very subject comes up in the “In the Loop” chapter in Letters from Moineddin [Moineddin Jablonski, Murshid’s successor] at , where a practicing Muslim quotes not only HIK but Sufi Barkat Ali, Murshid’s Murshid, both of whom instruct Murshid to practice Nimaz and to give his students as well the Islamic prayers. There is no doubt that what Murshid was giving would inspire some to come at him with knives, when they saw men and women holding hands in a circle. But he was adamant. He wanted to reach Americans, he wanted to open hearts, he wanted to get 100,000 Americans to say “Allah”. What he communicated to me through his example was that you do what you are inspired to do. He dialogued respectfully at length with Sufi Barkat Ali about these matters, but he demonstrated that he was guided to do what he did, and that was that. No compromise.

Hazrat Sufi Barkat Ali Rahmatullahi 'alayh (1911-1997), one of the Teacher of Murshid Sam

As a close associate of Murshid Sam, the place where Dance of Universal Peace has come to, do you think it has flowered as Murshid had envisioned it, or it lacks certain element that would put it in the right orbit?

Yes, the dances have flourished as Murshid envisioned they would, reaching beyond the boundaries of North America to the far corners of the earth. As someone who has not led dances for 30 years, it is difficult to assess where the dances are at today in terms of their appropriateness for this time. I would hope that the dances are well attended all over the world by people of all ages and that each circle finds its own appropriate expression for its place at this time, but I don’t know.

Older people, who didn’t dance, comprised the bulk of Pir Vilayat’s audience when he arrived in the United States in the 60s. It was a boon for him that Murshid Sam was attracting young people, which Pir Vilayat gladly folded into his Order. Pir Zia, Pir Vilayat’s son, today is young, and I don’t know the demographic of his audiences, old or young or mixed? From the looks of Pir Shabda Khan’s audience at the recent jamiat khas [leader’s meeting], as you would expect in a gathering of elders, it is mostly older folks. There are also camps for young people at Mendocino (California) and in Kansas. In the 70s, I used to take my family to Sufi Leader’s meetings. Today, my kids are more interested in Buddhism than Sufism. But Murshid was interested in Buddhism and was a Zen Master. So, interest and participation in all religions is permitted and part of Murshid Sam’s Sufism as well as the Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan.

What is your vision of Sufi Message in the West?

This was the subject of my book talk (offered on the homepage of I called “The Unfulfilled Vision that the Sufi’s Bring.” In a sentence, my vision of the Sufi Message in the West would be when each individual gets their guidance without intercession of rabbi, priest or imam, and acts morally. Murshid calls this God-consciousness. And what does God-consciousness look like? To quote Murshid, “The spiritual realization of God-consciousness brings with it more than expansion. It brings with it love, compassion, mercy, harmonization, and consideration. It brings with it the central worthiness of others.”  I would add, “The vision of Hazrat Inayat Khan is not fulfilled until all individuals are free, valued by one another, and each walks their path as a divine being.” This understanding has caused me to label “Sufi” any number of socially conscious individuals working for positive change. For example, the recipients of the “Right Livelihood Award.” They are all Sufis in my estimation.

About Mansur Johnson

Mansur Johnson is a father, Sufi, world traveller, union member, writer, spiritual teacher, photographer, and activist.

In the 1960s, he was a close associate of Sufi Murshid Samuel L. Lewis, the book Murshid is one consequence. More about Mansur, his writings and work can be found at his site,

He can be connected via his Facebook.

# Resources:
* Official site of Mansur Johnson
* Samuel L. Lewis: An illuminated soul and inspiration
* Life of Sufi Sam
* Murshid Sam's Living Stream
* Murshid Samuel L. Lewis: Selected Works
* Dances of Universal Peace
* Khankah Sam
* Ruhaniyat

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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer | Credit and Message from Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Thanks to Afsha R. for sharing this lovely inspiration which speaks the cry of so many of our souls of our time. Stay blessed my friend, now and always. Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Postcard from England

Come, seek, for search is the foundation of fortune:
every success depends upon focusing the heart.
Unconcerned with the business of the world,
keep saying with all your soul, "Ku, ku," like the dove.
Consider this well, o you whom worldliness veils,
God has tied "invocation" to "I will answer."
When weakness is cleared from your heart,
your prayer will reach the glorious Lord.
- Rumi on The Journey, translation by Camille and Kabir Helminski

Supplication of the ones who are on journey (musafir) is answered.
- Sacred Tradition of Islam

We are passing the long nights of winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and particularly here in England where I am traveling right now. The winter here has become quite intense (not only for me who comes from Indian Subcontinent but for the Brits as well) with lots of snow and severely negative temperature in the last few weeks, but thanks God when I arrived here in mid-December it was just the little time frame when the big freeze wasn't extreme enough to shut down the airport and public services. Not being a tourist but a traveler definitely helps, because then the focus is completely different. Instead of visiting objects and shopping malls, we then become pilgrimage of another kind.

Currently I am visiting Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire and hope to return to London again in the next few days. By God's plan, my current journey has been initiated and influenced in larger extent by those whom I know through this space and in the course of time that I am here, I am hopeful about meeting and seeing a number of seekers of truth, lovers of Sufi Path whom I have known for sometime. Among the readers and regular visitors of this space many of the seekers with whom I have been in correspondence for a number of years and months and who have become companions in the journey and friend of heart, in this trip I am looking forward to meet, sit with and if possible create collaborations with. It was really interesting to see that just before the trip, co-incident or not, I came to know and received communications from a number of seekers who are based in United Kingdom.

It often happens such in journey that there is this attraction which sufis call "jadhb" - that is triggered and by the quality of al-Jami, The Gatherer or The Uniter, people and logistics are gathered or united that fascilitate towards the attraction. Indeed all thanksgiving and praise is to the Sole Fascilitator of everything, including this outward journey which otherwise wouldn't have possible.

Human life was enriched by means of a force activated through the correct geographical relationship of sacred centers. - John Michell

Large cosmopolitan and now global city such as London which has become really a melting pot of people from every possible nations, culture, colors, races and religions of the world - its also a very interesting place when it comes to discovering modern day seekers. There are a number of active Sufi community thriving in this city and countless hidden and open Sufis who call this country home. Apart from outwardly or initiated Sufis, there are many truly enlightened souls, mystics and inwardly possessing a Sufi heart even without them being aware of it - are the kind of people I increasingly encounter in this part of the world as they can be traced now a days in many of the global cities of the west. This is not to say that such souls are not to be found in the east, but the circumstances, the unique individual journey in which they are in and the context among which such hidden and open seekers are situated here in the west, is something truly remarkable and have always excited me to discover and specially to know them on a personal level.

Often time in my conversation I have came across such diverse journeying among the western seekers that its a previledge really to even witness and participate in deep listening to their unique stories of seeking. In these true and real life stories I witness a hopeful picture of humanity where at least some portion of us are still holding seeds of desire to awaken to truth, to that which is real and are not prepared to just sleep-walk their entire life like majority of people in their mass hypnotic state.

Over the years among the bounties and gifts this blog space, writing and sharing has rewarded me with - the richest of them has been this connection, discovering and knowing individual seekers who are often hidden and at the same time are very sincere in their endeavor and their seeking of truth. It always amazes and excites me whenever I encounter such individuals and while in England this is what I look forward to the most.  This is also why the weather, the timing - everything becomes so immaterial.

The soul of each single one of us is sent, that the universe may be complete.
- The Hermetic Tradition, Plotinus, Enneads IV

Through deep listening to the individual unique story of seeking, a beautiful witnessing process occur which is very inspirational. The witnessing of their journey and even knowing about it enables to appreciate the profound wisdom that the authentic sacred traditions hold for our time and beyond; and also it helps gaze at the evolving spiritual embodiment of humanity in their beautiful and organic diversity. It enables probe us a number of important questions in which the future direction of humanity's endeavor towards seeking truth, developing relationship with the Spirit depends upon: What is the reality map that a modern person living in the west understands when it comes to faith, belief, practice and embodying all of it? Whether faith traditions are becoming irrelevant or otherwise? If irrelevant, why? Where is the right balance between ritualistic dogma and open source spirituality? How spiritual group work is happening in the west? What are the challenges that seekers in the west face when it comes to their attraction and infusing another / relatively alien faith tradition? What is it in the Islamic or Sufi Path even outside the traditional structure of Islam - that attracts westerners now a day? What is the best model for accelerated spiritual awakening of a modern human being who happen to live in this cross currents in the west?

Paths to reach God are as numerous as the breath of a human being.
- Sufi tradition

One of my presently lived journey's intention has been to meet individual seekers or appreciator or traveler of the Sufi path as well as the Mytics and the quasi Mystics here in the UK and also to visit some of the gatherings of the Sufis. So far by God's grace I was able to participate in the Mevlevi Sufi gathering where they celebrated Mevlana Rumi Festival marking the death anniversary. Also I was very fortunate to know individuals who invited and took me to Naqshbandi Zikr gathering here in London. Hopefully I wish to be at few of the other gatherings of Sufis from various lineage in the next few days or weeks, Inshallah.

Khidr Forest, somewhere in North London; courtesty R. Ma, may God be pleased with you

My deep appreciation and heart felt thanks go to those individuals, friends, fellow seekers who have been so kind and generous to me. May all your support be rewarded and be reflected in your own life with the grand generosity of the Infinintely Generous One.

God willing I will be in England, particularly in London for the next few weeks. so if you are around, feel free to send me a text message, writing about yourself to make an appointment for call / conversation. With God's permission and Opening of Unseen Doors, I will be open for individual meetings and group on subject or themes related to contemporary spirituality and its embodying in our time and in our individual or collective life. My local mobile phone through which you may reach is: (+44) 07837806877.

Much blessings.

Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs,
nor bag nor bread nor money,
and do not have two tunics apiece.

Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.
And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city,
shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.

- Jesus Christ, upon him be peace, instruction teaching of tawakkul (complete trust on God) to his holy companions in their outward journey, Luke 9, Matthew 10

Sufi Contacts:

I have collected a number of contacts of the Sufi Circles that I have been able to gather so far and listed in the Forum. If you know any other gatherings of remembrance (zikr), khaniqa / zawiya / school of seekers, kindly update on this page, click on [Sufi Contacts in United Kingdom (London and outside)] thread and click reply to include the address / contact details. Thank you.

Rise up nimbly 
and go on with your strange journey
to the Ocean.

The stream knows it can't stay on the mountain.
Leave and don't look away from the Sun as you go,
in whose Light you're sometimes crescent, sometimes full.

- Rumi
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Light, One Ancient Qaum from Valad Nameh

In the Name of al-Qadim, the Infinitely Ancient

Sultan of 'Ashiqin (Chieftain of Lovers) informed the people that close friends to Allah though in many bodies and minds and in different time intervals are indeed one entity and the rest of the humanity (those away from Allah) are many disconnected individuals.

As we have uncovered that the molecular structures and physiological processes of our bodies and minds are indeed ancient, order of billions of years, Sufis believe that indeed the human beings are infinitely old, creatures in another realm in infinite past, and our biological formations are mere projections or fossils of this terrific ancient creature!

Those who were too close to Allah in infinite past universe of Qidam, enjoyed the unity of their existence, and when cloaked with bio-psychological robe of earthly birth, they are indeed inexorably linked members of a single collective (Qaum).

- Notes from Dara O Shayda via the Sufi Notes Yahoo Email Group

Azizam (Dearest to my heart),

The singleton Nur (Light) of the Prophets, Aulia' (Close Friends of Allah) and the Mu'minin (Believers) is Qadim (Infinitely Ancient), Qā'im (Subsisting free of any withering) upon Allah, transience and multiplicity is for their Surat (Constraints to form and shape) not for their spirituality. Since the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said: I was a Nabi (Divine Informer) while Adam was between the water and the mud.

They are all but one singleton Nafs (Self) since they are alive due to the Nur (Divine Light) of Al-Haqq (The Absolute Reality) and if you glance upon them you see one but if you stare at their bodies and into their minds (Surat) you see a plethora of many!

Like unto the sun, shining into a thousand houses but it is one light radiated from one light source. Mustafa (The Chosen) peace be upon him call them as one self:

They might differ with regards to the life of this world, (but) The Believers is Ka (like-unto) one Self..

Baha'eddin Ibn Mulavi, eldest son of Rumi has thus versed:

The adorer of the sun is praising his own self,
for my eyes are blind and darkened and defective
while the light of the sun is the light for itself (to see the beauty of itself)

Mustafa (The Chosen) said: I was a Divine Informer (Nabi) 
while Adam between the water and the clay, 
a treasure within the 'Adam (Nothing-ness)

For as long as there was Allah I have been with Hu 
for I am Hu's Divine Secret therefore do not count one as two

We were while there was no cosmos, 
we are Infinitely Ancient (Qidam) yet Adam transient

Adam's existence is transient but his light sanctified 
from impermanence and transience an infinitely ancient light from Azal: 
Where there is Allah and no one else!

The souls of men are from the Nur (Divine Light) of Al-Haqq (The Absolute Reality, Allah) 
and shall tumult vexed unless by the presence of Al-Haqq.

See all of us as one, though one a male and the other a female, 
one Roman and the other Syrian, one a scholar and the other a commoner.

Each a different tongue and a different song, 
but all separated from Al-Haqq endowed with an exclusive divine secret...

A single light, lit a thousand homes, the light of the Al-Haqq
like a sun irradiating all insides, for all are radiantly resplendent
because of this single light and thus all are one:
A Singleton Nafs (Self) as was coined by Mustafa

And yet the rest are mere carnal lives, and if the light of one dies,
no worries for the neighboring house,
for this light is fueled by a life of sleeping and eating


Although there are thousands in the Collective 
yet the count is only one! 
Just like the waves upon the sea, many high tides and many low tides, 
never separate from the sea, the one sea 

Proclivity is due to the lineage: livestocks tend towards the green pastures to graze 
and the human being tends towards the obeisance of Al-Rahman (The Most Benevolent Gift Giver)

The tendency towards the servitude and companionship 
is for the members of the same species, 
have you ever seen a camel desire the company of a donkey?

Only Ishq (Unary Unrestrained Loving) tends towards Ishq, 
and whoever loves the Darwishān (Pauper Friends of Allah) 
has thus reached the rank of Certitude (Yaqin).


One Light, One Ancient Qaum (Collective), Excerpt from Valad Nameh by Baha'eddin Ibn Mulavi, Eldest son of Rumi . Farsi Editors: Najma Jabri'il Musavi and Sheikha Niloufar Ghulami

© 2010-2002,  Dara O Shayda: Untired with Loving Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pilgrimage to Hearts

The people of God are of two types, 
Those who see they are being made to journey, and
Those who see themselves doing the traveling. 
- Traditional Sufi Saying

Known as people of Heart (ahl al-Qulub), a Sufi seeker's pilgrim is pilgrimage to hearts. Pilgrimage (ziyarah) to Hearts is those journeys in which one is set out to find, meet and sit with human beings who possess a living heart. And by 'living heart' Sufis refer to hearts having the quality of being awake and alive either by the Remembrance of the Beloved or by the qualities of the Beloved or both. For those who have the vision that penetrate the ordinary, can realize the reality (haqiqa) spoken by the Seal: "the difference between the one who remembers his Lord and the one who does not is like the difference between the living and the dead."

Ziyarah to Hearts which are alive by its drinking from the Fountain of Immortality, which is Remembrance of the Beloved, is very much an important part of a seeker's seeking. In fact many Sufis began their journey in the Path of Purification (Tasawwuf) by their successful completion of their pilgrimage to the possesor of Hearts. At such journey's end they meet a True Human Being, whom the mystics of Bengal calls, Moner Manush - the Man of Heart. The human being in whose presence one may realize truth.

For the Sufis, a pure heart where the Divine qualities resplend is nothing less than the Kaba of Mecca, the first house of humanity built and dedicated to proclaim, remember and glorify the Name of God. Within the valley of human vessel, it is the Heart which is the Temple of the Most High, the Sanctified Abode where the King has its visitation.

The Divine Voices cries out: "Neither my Heaven nor my Earth contains Me, but the heart of my faithful believer contains Me,' this because the heart is a mirror in which the manifested 'Light of God' is at each moment reflected on the scale of the microcosm.”

The great mystic Ibn Arabi said, "The mystic Kaba is the heart of being. God says 'The Temple which contains Me is in your heart.' The mystery of the Divine Essence is no other than the Temple of the heart, and it is around the heart that the spiritual pilgrim circumambulates."

Heart of human being becomes sanctified when within it the Lord is remembered, God's qualities are assembled and most importantly the heart which receive the Light of God's grace frequently. Thus the journey to seek, find and be with the people of pure heart is like journey to the sanctified house of Kaba.

Not every Hajj made by every aspirant pilgrim is accepted. Similarly not every pilgrim to Hearts is meet with success. The succcess and reward of such pilgrim to Hearts comes when the aspirant are made to meet the truly luminous human beings, the one is human to the full extent. The greatest reward in such pilgrim is meeting with the possessor of sincere hearts. A seeker journey of thousand miles is worth taking even if it means to find a single human being who possess a heart which is graced by the love-glance of the Beloved. 

I will walk a thousand leagues in falsehood, that one step of the journey may be true. - Junayd

There is nothing in the heaven and earth which is more miraculous than the miracle of being a true human being, to embrace our full potential of joy, peace and bliss in becoming a complete human being with our unmatched uniqueness as who we as individual are. Rumi says beautifully: 
Each of our eternal individualities is a word, a divine Word, emitted by the Breath of Divine Compassion. When this Word penetrates the mystic's heart... that is, when the 'secret of his Lord' unfolds to his consciousness, when divine inspiration invests his heart and soul, 'his nature is such that there is born within him a spiritual Child (walad ma'nawi) having the breath of Christ which resuscitates the dead.'
Thus our quest to find and be near those unique individuals who are reborn as a Spiritual Child having Christ-like miraculous purity of spirit - is the pilgrimage to hearts.

Qadiri Sufi Master, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen taught the following on the Real Miracle:

If you have within you the qualities of a bull, a donkey, or a tiger, that's the image you project on the outside. Whatever quality is inside, you exhibit the same quality on the outside and then you take pride in that trait. As your thoughts give more and more energy to the illusions you harbor about yourself, you give reality to them by acting them out and admiring what you've done. If you are harboring any demonic or ghost-like qualities, you act them out by performing various miraculous feats. But using these occult powers is just a manipulation of the energies belonging to the five (base) elements. Such feats are not true miracles.

Flying in the sky or walking on water are the actions of birds and fish, not the work of human beings. The crane stands on one foot for eight hours merely to catch a fish, so if you stand on one leg for eight hours, is that a miracle or is it just a yoga technique? The snake lives in a hole in the ground, holding its breath for inordinate amounts of time, is that miracle? That too is just yoga. You are simply exhibiting the actions of birds and animals?

The camouflaging ability of certain insects and animals and plants, the quality of being invisible of germs and viruses, to walk on fire, to shoot up into the sky, to reach the moon .. None of these things are real miracles. To become a true human being is a miracle. To become a good person is a miracle. To become a wise person is a miracle. For the flower of the heart to bloom is a miracle. For fragrance and light to come into that flower is a miracle. For a human being to find peace, equality, tranquility - that is a true miracle. That is the work of a true human being. If you can become such a being, that will be a wonder, all lives will bow in awe to that wonder. You will be able to understand everything. That knowing will come from within yourself. To reach this station is the real miracle.

May we all come to take some time off to seek and find and to be with such sincere hearts and love those who are loved by Allah. May our journey be made sanctified by the presence of the sanctified ones.

Ekbar dhorte pele Moner Manush, 
Chere jete aar diyona!

Once you have met a True Human Being,
Let him not disappear from the horizon of your Heart.
- Traditional Baul Song of Mystics of Bengal, credit Dohar

Indeed, the whole world is imagination,
while He is the Real in Reality.
Whoever understands this
knows all the secrets of the Spiritual Path.
- Ibn Arabi

La maqam illa Allah.
La maqsud illa Allah.

There is no other way-station but Thee O Allah.
There is no other destination but Thee O Allah.

- Sadiq M. Alam
Islington, Central London
December 15, 16, 2010

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Forty Ahadith on Akhlaq

All those who listen to me
shall pass on my words to others
and those to others again;

and may the last ones understand my words better
than those who listen to me directly.

Be my witness O God, that I have conveyed Your message to Your people.

- Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and to his rightly guided spiritual heirs, the Shaykhs and the Awliyas and their servants .

Continuation of the previous post: Forty Ahadith on Akhlaq (Character)

Hadith #20.

Destroyed are those slaves of money and luxury - for he only gets satisfied in having those and get dissatisfied when not having those.

Hadith #21.

Do not imitate those people who says, if people be good to us, we will be good to them in return; and if they are bad to us, we will take revenge for it; rather strengthen your heart in such way that you be your best when people are good, and if they are bad to you, you will still remain with your goodness towards them.

Hadith #22.

One day close companion of the Messenger, Hazrat Umar was seating in the speaker's place of the Mosque and he address the people saying, "O people, be humble because I have heard that Rasulullah, peace be upon him saying: the person who embody humbleness for the sake of Allah, Allah grants him high honor, as a result he (or she) becomes lesser in his own eyes but greater in people's eyes."

Hadith# 23.

The Holy Messenger has transmitted: "Give me guarantee for six things, I will become a guarantor of Paradise for you."
1) When you speak, you shall speak the truth
2) When you promise anything, you shall fulfill it
3) When you preserve anything (keepsafe, trust) for others, you must return it
4) Protect your private part of the body-temple from misuse
5) Protect your gaze from misuse
6) Keep away your hands from wrongful actions.

Hadith #24.

When a human being awakes in the morning, all of his body parts humbly address the tongue saying, "Please be mindful and fear Allah about us. We all are under you. If you remain sound, we remain sound; if you become crooked, our state also becomes the same."

Hadith #25.

Every Path (Deen) has its virtuous characteristic. For Islam this is Haya (characteristics of self-respecting shyness / politeness).

Hadith #26.

In terms of mutual loving-kindness, love and affection you will see the mu'min (faithful believers) act like a single body. Just as in fever or insomnia when one part of the body suffers, the whole body feel it (similarly the suffering of one certain section of mu'min affects all hearts who truly understand the unity of humanity).

Hadith# 27.

Those who are kind, the Most Merciful Allah is kind to them. Be merciful towards all the sentient beings on the face of earth, the Owner of Heaven will be merciful towards you.

Hadith# 28.

As the children of Adam grow older, two of his characters gain youthfulness. One is the lust after wealth and another is the want of long-life.

Hadith# 29.

Truly enlightened is that person who is enlightened about his nafs (self, psyche) and one who keep preparing for the eternal next life; and in reality that person is ignorantly fool who follow only the desire of his lower-self and at the same time keep hope of reward from Allah.

Hadith# 30.

In reality he who can defeat the opponent in a wrestling match is not mighty, rather he who has command and control over the self when aroused with anger - is really a mighty one.

Hadith# 31.

Keep away from lies, because lies keep people in evil deeds and evil deeds reach people to its evil destination, the reality that burns without respite. When a person become habituated in lying, to the Divine Book of Life his (or her) name is recorded as a liar.

Hadith# 32.

Save yourself from envy. This is because the energy of envy consumes the rewards of goodness in such a way, just as fire consumes its fuel.

Hadith# 33.

Generosity is nearer to Allah and nearer to the Garden of Bliss, nearer to the Heart of Human Being and keeps one away from the Wretched Destination of Fire. Miserliness (bukhl) is away from Allah, away from the Garden and nearer to the Wretched Destination of Fire.

Hadith# 34.

One who prays only to be seen by people is committing associationism (shirk), one who fasts only to be seen by people is committing associationism and one who give charity only to be seen by people is committing associationism (to orient the consciousness of divinity reality towards anything other than God Who is One without a second, ekmobaditiyom)

Hadith# 35.

Three habits bring liberation and three habits bring destruction.
The liberating habits are:
1) To be mindful and fear Allah both openly and in private
2) To speak the truth and just in every state, be it in elation and in frustration.
3) To be modest in spending both in time of prosperity and in time of adversity.

The destructive habits are:
1) To meet demands of the impulses of the lower self (nafs).
2) Miserliness
3) Self-boasting arrogance which is the worst.

Hadith# 36.

One who carry pride even an amount equivalent of a mustard seed in one's heart, (unless he receive the equalizing punishment of it), shall not enter the Garden of Divine Nearness in Paradise.

Hadith# 37.

Two days in every week, Monday and Thursday - the Book of Deeds of a Human Being is presented to God. Then Allah forgives the Mu'min (faithful believer), but the servant who keep enmity with his fellow brothers are not forgiven and declared, leave their case until they make peace between themselves.

Hadith# 38.

The amount of havoc that two hungry wolves can cause if set loose in a flock of sheep is nothing compared to the destruction that the greed for material gain and hankering after power brings to one's Deen (religious and spiritual embodiment).

Hadith# 39.

Intoxicants are the gatherer of mindless evil, lust after women is trap of the Opponent and excessive desire of the worldliness (dunya) is the root cause of every crime.

Hadith# 40.

One day the Messenger was teaching the adab (etiquette) of the Path saying: "Backbite (gibayt) is worse than committing adultery." The companions were astonished and asked why is it so? The Messenger of Wisdom replied, "When someone commit adultery and follows by true repentance, his or her repentance is accepted and his wrong doings are absolved by Allah. But one who commits backbiting is not forgiven until the person against whom he or she commits backbiting forgives."

Rabbi zidni ilman | My Lord! Increase me in knowledge | (credit)

Ya Alimu, alimni. 
Rabbi zidni 'ilman war zuqni fahman

O All-Knowing, grant me knowledge.
O Allah! Advance me in Knowledge and true understanding

Allahumma inni as'aluka fahmal-nabiyyen wa hifthal mursaleen al-muqarrabeen

O Allah! I ask You for the understanding of the prophets and the memory of the messengers, and those nearest to You.

Ya Hayyu, Ya Qayyumu, Ya Rabba Musa wa Harun wa Nuh wa Ibrahim wa Isa wa Muhammadin sallallahu alayhi wasallam Akrimni bi jawdatil hifdhi wasur'ati fahhmi, Warzuqni hikmata wama'rifatal ilmi wa thabat- dhihni wa'l aqli wa'l-hilmi bi haqqi sayyidina Muhammadin salallahu alayhi wasalam. Ya Rabbal Alamin.

O Living! O One Through Whom All Subsists! O Lord of Moses, Aaron, Noah, Abraham, Jesus, and Muhammad, honour me with good memory and understanding, Bestow me with wisdom, true knowledge and a firm intellect and mind with the blessing of Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). O Lord of the Worlds.

Subhanaka la 'ilma lana 'illa ma 'allamtana 'innaka 'antal-'Alimul Hakim

Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Enlightened. - The Quran 2:32

# Related:
* Forty Ahadith on Character
* Akhlaq: Sacred Teachings of Islam on Character Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Forty Ahadith on Character

Beautiful character, good mannerism or wholesome disposition is the foundation upon which a human being establishes his or her being. The art of Being Human is solidly founded upon the character that a person embodies. If this very foundation is weak, no matter how much knowledge, intellect or eloquence in speaking the person carry, all are as if castle built upon thin air. The accumulation of whole life time, the building of empire can come crushing in a moment when the character of the person is not balanced / wholesome. Thus in authentic spiritual learning and training - great emphasis is placed upon focusing on building the proper character for the seeker.

The Messengers, the Avatars of age were epitomized with their adorned character as example to their fellow disciples, nations and generations to come who receive the transmission from them. In many tradition it is known that the great enlightened beings also had greatly enlightened character. In fact it was their beautifully fragrant characters which made them so endearing to their fellow pupil and everyone who came to smell that fragrance of their character couldn't help but fall in love unconditionally with them. This an universal phenomena without exception. The great spiritual beings share this common train of having beautifully adorned character.

Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for those who hope in Allah and the hereafter and remember Allah much. - The Quran, al-Ahzab 33:21
In Islam, a good seeker is encouraged to aspire towards sound character or disposition. The training of the mureed or student or disciple begins by the training of the character. In Islamic model of spiritual training, the Messenger represent the best of character and like previous God sent Avatars, Muhammad Mustafa had beautiful characters which even his staunch enemies would also praised about him and couldn't deny his wholesome trustworthiness. His profoundly balanced character is declared as a model for humanity. He in his embodiment have remained as a real example of how to engage in every possible role of being human and at the same time carry the best of integrity in every aspect. He was a deep mystic, a lover of God, a family man, loving husband, tenderly compassionate father, vanguard of justice, sharply intelligent advocate, visionary social reformer, a just ruler, a beloved teacher to his pupil, a warrior, a defender of the oppressed, a humble member of the community, a faithful counselor, a religious and spiritual genius and administrator, an inspiring human being and above all - as someone who in his lifetime demonstrated to be superbly balanced human being of highest integrity in the vast spectrum of what it means to be a complete human.

O Transmitter of Guidance, We have sent you as a witness, news bearer and a warner and as someone who invites people to God by His permission and as a shining Lamp - The Quran 33:45-46

In Islam the way of being of the Messenger, his teachings, sayings are very carefully preserved which are known as hadith (literally means "narrative", plural ahadith). The hadith or the sacred apostolic traditions holds its important place in Islamic teachings because it often function as a next layer of commentary and guidance after the direct divine revelation (preserved as the Quran or Final Testament, Seal of Message).

In this two post series Forty ahadith on the teachings of Character is shared.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
In the Name of Allah, the Infinite Compassion, the Boundless Mercy

Hadith #1.

Muhammad Rasulullah, may Allah bless him and perfect our love for him, has said, "That person among you is dearer to me who has beautiful character."

Hadith #2.

On the Day of Resurrection, the deed which will be the heaviest on the divine scale (of ultimate accountability) for the believer will be his beautiful character (khulqun hasana).

Hadith #3.

A being who submits to the Divine (muslim) who live among people and bear patiently the difficulties coming from people is higher and better in station than a person who neither mingles with people nor bear patiently difficulties from them.

Hadith #4.

A faithful person because of his or her beautiful character receive the honor equivalent of those people who spend their entire night in worship / night vigils and spend their entire day in fasting.

Hadith #5.

Allah loves not people having evil character.

Hadith #6.

One day a companion of the Holy Messenger, Abdullah ibn Abbas was with the Apostle. Then the Messenger turned to him and said, "Listen son! Be mindful of Allah, Allah will take care of you. In every affair remember Allah and you will find Him (present) in front of  you.  When you need to ask, ask only to Allah; and when you are in need of help, ask help only to Allah. Remember this well, if all people on the face of the earth were to gather together to aid you, they will not be able to help any more than what Allah shall appoint for you. Likewise if all people on the face of the earth were to gather against you, they would not be able to harm you any bit more than what Allah shall appoint for you. The Divine Pen has been lifted and the inks have already dried.

Hadith# 7.

Allah looks not at your outward appearance and your wealth, rather Allah looks at your heart and your deeds.

Hadith #8.

O people! All of you turn to Allah and repent, for I turn and seek repentance hundred times a day.

Hadith #9.

The person who appoint for himself or herself istighfar (asking forgiveness) as an obligatory action, Allah opens for him (or her) the doors of liberation from every tribulation and respite the person from every kind of worries and gives provision from unimaginable sources.

Hadith# 10.

Allah says, "My Love is incumbent upon those who love each other for My pleasure's sake; those who sit together for My Love's sake; those who meet each other out of their loving relation with Me and those who spend on each other in order to reach My divine satisfaction."

Hadith# 11.

Those (desert traveler) who fear the ransom of their merchants by street bandits in the early dawn, must start their journey at the silent hours of the night and those who start journey at the silent hours of the night reach their destination safely. Remember the Allah's merchandise is priceless, and remember that Allah's merchandise is the Garden of Post-Eternity (Jannah).

Hadith# 12.

In this community (ummat) the first rank of goodness is trustworthiness and readiness to selfless sacrifice (zuhd) and the first rank of evilness is miserliness and materialism.

Hadith# 13.

If you could trust on Allah as He deserved to be trusted upon, Allah would give you provisions like the birds in the sky. In the dawn they leave their nest in empty stomach and in the evening come back with their stomach full.

Hadith# 14.

The one who remain content with his (or her) small provision, Allah is also content with his  modest amount of devotional deeds (amal).

Hadith# 15.

That person has achieved blessedness who have accepted the Way of Divine Submission (Islam), and who is given his necessary provision and whatever he is given by Allah, he is also given the capacity to be content with.

Hadith# 16.

One day the Messenger addressed a certain leader of a tribe saying, "There are two characteristics among your people which Allah loves. One of them is tolerance and the other one is calmness."

Hadith# 17.

Every affair with the faithful is wonderful! For him or her every possible state has goodness. If he has affliction and he bear it patiently - this affliction and bearing it patiently turns out to be of blessing for him, and this is only a hallmark of a faithful. 

Hadith# 18.

Every affair with the faithful is amazing!For his or her every action has benefit for him. This is only a hallmark of a faithful. When he or she is bestowed a bounty of happiness and prosperity, he follows it with divine gratitude (shukr). And this thanksgiving attracts divine blessings for him.


Make the quality of truthfulness obligatory upon you, for truthfulness leads people to right path, and right path leads to the Garden of Eternal Bliss (Jannah). When a human being always speaks the truth and makes truthfulness his or her own character - the persons name is recorded among the blessed names of the Siddique (truthful, righteous, sincere).

Continued. Rest of the 21 ahadith, #20 to #40 will be published in the followup post, God willing.

References: Shovab Shomporke Chollish Hadith (Forthy Hadith concerning Character), compiled by Mawlana Meherban Ali Borotuvee, translation in Bengali by Mawlana M. Abdul Halim, Emdadiya Library, Chowkbazar, Dhaka

Most of the ahadith on this collection are taken from the famous collection of Meshkat Sharif and for Bengal translation edition "Shariyat and Tasawwuf" and "Ma'ariful Hadith" have been consulted.

The beloved Grand Master Muhammad Rasulullah said, "The one who will preserve forty of my ahadith and will transmit it to others, on the Day of Great Awakening (Qiyamah) that person will be resurrected in the blessed company of the possessor of true knowledge (alem)."

Allahumma salli ala Sayyidina Muhammad, wa ala ali wa sahbi wa sallam.

O Allah send your peace and blessings upon our Noble Master, the praiseworthy Embodiment and his spiritual family and his noble companions. Through Your Permission may You increase our capacity to approach towards him through his transmissions and his beautifully fragrant akhlaq imbued with the Light of Your Countenance.

# Further:
* Character and Conduct of Holy Prophet, from Ihya-Ulum-Id-Din by Imam Ghazzali
* Prophet Muhammad's Character
* Beautiful Qualities of Prophet Muhammad
* What was the appearance of Prophet Muhammad? Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Seek, Seize, Feel

Seek the Silence,
When the silence doesn’t seek you.

Seize the Moment,
When the moment doesn’t seize you.

Feel His Love,
As His Love is all around you.

~ A. S. E.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

~ Desiderata: a Poem by Max Ehrmann

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Mystery of Time: Teachings from Kabbalah

Mystery of Time

It seems to us that the past is gone and the future is not yet here. Yet past and present are always with us. Two thousand years after the ancient Kabbalists revealed this concept, Einestein (who was a profound mystic by the way along with his ingenious scientific mind) made similar assertions. It's only the limits of our consciousness that prevent us from perceiving yesterday and tomorrow - right now.

But how can past, present and future all exist at once?

Here is a thought experiment:

Imagine a 30 story building. We are now standing on the 15th floor, which represent the present moment. Floors 1 through 14 represent the increments of time that brought us to this moment. Floors 16 through 30 represent the future of our lives.

What do we currently perceive with our five senses?
Only the 15th floor.

We cannot see the floors below, and we cannot see the floors above.
Yet all the floors - that is, past, present, and future - exist as one unified whole: the entire 30 story building. And if we could float outside the building's 15th floor and look at it from a distance, we could see all 30 stories at once!

That's a nice abstract concept to engage the mind, but what's the lesson for our lives? Who cares if time is really one? The answer lies in understanding the concept of Test of Time and what Tricks does to us out of illusion that Time creates. 

When we behave proactively, the Opponent uses time against us to sabotage our accomplishments. Just as the chaos may be delayed, the Light due to us may also be delayed. If we think we've been proactive, but find ourselves wondering when we'll get the Light, our adversary has won another round. It was just a devious delay tactic to incite us into reacting with doubt and disbelief. 

Thus time is further defined as the distance between good deeds and their dividends. Just as time is the distance between crime and punishment. It is also the space between Resistance and reward.

It can get even trickier. Suppose there is a wonderful reward in store for someone, because of positive deed he or she committed some ten years prior. Now at the precise moment of a new negative misdeed, the Opponent takes time out of the cause-and-effect process relating to the prior positive action. What happens? All of a sudden, a reward falls into the person's lap right after committing the negative act. It appears as though this person received Light for the wrongful behavior. It looks as if this person go away with the crime and actually benefited in other areas of his or her life.

Or consider this scenario. A person decides to resist a negative reactive urge. Instead, this individual chooses to be proactive and perform a positive deed. But then, the negative payback that is due from a prior reactive action suddenly stares him or her in the face. Why? How? Simply because the chunk of time that was delaying the prior judgment is immediately removed from the process by the crafty Opponent. So, after having performed a wonderful act of kindness, life suddenly gongs this person on the head.

This creates the fantastic illusion that life lacks true justice and that goodness doesn't pay. This whole chaotic view of reality occurs because we are shortsighted people who allow time to rule and dictate our lives.

The Weapon of Complacency

Spirituality, according to Kabbalha, is not about trekking up a mountain to commune with God and nature while meditating alongside a clear steam as the birds sign the beauty of the world. That makes for a poetic scene, but it not the purpose of our lives. Nor is divorcing ourselves from the physical world, secluding ourselves up on a mountaintop contemplating the majesty of nature. According to Kabbalah, there are not effective ways to achieve spiritual growth.

We came down from the mountain, so to speak, to enter the world of chaos, hardship, turmoil and burden so we could confront the triggers that ignite reactions. Each trigger gives us the opportunity to transform our reactive behavior and become the cause of our fulfillment.

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. 

Our wonderful characteristics and endearing qualities serve no practical purpose when it comes to arousing new levels of fulfillment and Light in our lives. Those traits are already in a proactive state. On the contrary it is our negative characteristics and traits that give us the opportunity to effect a true transformation of character.

The Weapon of Disguise

One of the Opponent's most potent weapons is the ability to confuse us. We feel sad and disoriented, angry and envious, and we never know who our real opponent is. In the course of all the mergers and acquisitions, all the takeovers, deal cutting, wealth building, promotions, job changes, spousal fights, bad-mouthing, rationalizing, justifying, and blaming, we think the opponents are our neighbors, our enemies, and our friends whom we feel compelled to outdo with our cars, homes, clothes and holidays. Or we think the opponent is our business competitor. Or the person at work who gets all the credit for the work we do. Or maybe the opponent is the whole rotten world, the whole corrupt system that has failed us and done us wrong. May be that's why our lives are so miserable. 

The Opponent is a master magician. A master of disguise. The Opponent projects himself onto other people so you recognize all of your faults in others and see the enemy as the other person. In reality, you're playing against the Opponent and don't even know it. You even doubt his existence right now, while reading a book on Kabbalah that plainly identifies him!

One of the most important Kabbalistic Principle states:
Never- that means never lay blame on other people or external events. (take responsibility even when the Opponent whispers to your mind that you are not responsible, its all "others faults", its all because "he or she did this or that"). Never- that means never lay blame on other people or external events.

-  from Power of Kabbalah by Yehuda Berg Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wisdom from Kabbalah on the Opponent and Time

Recently I was reading (and still re-reading) the book, The Power of Kabbalah by Yehuda Berg, who comes from a lineage of prominent Kabbalist masters of their generation.

Kabbalah or Qabbalah which literally mean "receiving" is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an eternal and mysterious Creator and the mortal and finite universe (His creation). According to Hebrew tradition, the first set of teachings on Kabbalah, called the Book of Foundation (also called Book of Creation, Sefer Yetzira) was transmitted as oral tradition more than 4000 years ago by Abraham, the Messenger of God and the Representative Father of Unity Consciousness (Tawhid). In its written form the teachings of the Book of Creation may have been first scribed about 2,000 years ago by famous Rabbi Akiba. Down the history many brilliant souls and mind contributed to the wisdom, including Moses the Messenger of God, Pythagoras, Plato, Raabi Joshua (Jesus) ben Joseph. Some religious scholars believe that Jesus learned the Kabbalistic technique of ritual immersion in water and Kabbalistic meditation from Yahyah the Immerser (John the Baptist). In the Gospels of Thomas Jesus' secret teachings given to only to his close disciples, he teaches Kabbalistic principals about the Light being the origin of all humanity and each person is a spark of the Divine. Kabbalists believe that it was through the wisdom of this ancient path that Jesus performed acts of healing and other wonders.

The Zohar (Literally means Splendor or Radiance) is the major text of Kabbalah. The Zohar contains a discussion of the nature of God, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls, redemption, the relationship of Ego to Darkness and "true self" to "The Light of God," and the relationship between the "universal energy" and man. Kabbalah is not a denomination in and of itself; it is a set of scriptures that exist outside the traditional Jewish Scriptures. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realization.

The book The Power of Kabbalah is a simplified and feather-light version of this sophisticated branch of mystical knowledge. Those who are already familiar with Kabbalist wisdom and those who prefer tradition over adopted-modernization, the book may read as overly simplistic or new age styled. Nevertheless the book is a good opener for new comers into mystical literature. Although the Kabbalah has its roots in Jewish mysticism, this books is written as a non-dogmatic manual applicable to all spiritual seekers. I particularly enjoyed the book very much as I could relate a lot of materials with Sufi wisdom teachings and in seeing the universality of spiritual foundational knowledge. As I was reading different chapters, affirmation from the Quran which confirms them were flashing in my mind, as if I was reading a commentary of what is revealed in the Final Testament as well. Any mystical text thus reminds us the underlying unity of truth spanning across all of humanity in different form and name.

The book offer a number of valuable insight into the reality "of  how things are" and try to provide glimpses of the spiritual laws behind that which is apparent. It sheds light on "Desire and Diversity", "Two sides of the Curtain: 1 Percent vs. the 99 Percent", "Human being as Vessel to receive Light", "Resistance", "Theory of Reactivity", "The Certainty Principle", "The Path of Most Resistance", "Time and Space as Weapon" etc. There were two or three particular themes which I think this book was very successful in communicating in the language and style it did. To me these useful subject which are part of our reality and its important to understand how it works are: "The Opponent", "Resistance", "Tricks of Time and Role of Time."

Because of our projection prone mind and heavily intellectual tendency the subject matter we often evade in our modern discourse of spirituality and religious teachings about Evil. In this book Yehuda Berg brought ancient wisdom teachings of Kabbalah on the subject of Evil, Shaytan or Satan in quite a remarkable way which I am sharing in this post.The spiritual dimension of Time and Why Time Exists are to do with the mechanism of veiling the Light. Thus the Mysterious role of Time is also connected with the concept of Evil Darkness.

Direct quotes and condensed adoption from Power of Kabbalah by Yehuda Berg

Two thousand years ago, the Zohar revealed the Opponent. The Zohar even identified the various techniques, weapons, and strategies he uses. He (or more appropriately It) is the unseen causes of chaos in the physical world and in the human spirit.

An Ancient Adversary

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist!”
- Christoper McQuarrie

Throughout history, religions, philosophers, and poets have given names to the Opponent, including Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Evil Inclination, the Dark Side, Darth Vader, the Dark Lord, the Beast etc.

Whatever you choose to call it, the ancient Kabbalists said the Opponent was real. Although you can not see this Opponent with your eyes, he is as real as the invisible atoms in the air and as ubiquitous and influential as the unseen force of gravity. His name as revealed by the ancient sages of Kabbalah as translated in English is “the Satan” (in Aramaic there is an accent to the second syllable, suh-tahn).

The Satan is not the red-clad, double-horned demon who wields a mean pitchfork. These superstitions have only served to further conceal his true purpose and identity. Kabbalah says our Opponent is the ultimate master magician. His deceptive talents are best summed up by a line from the clever film The Usual Suspects, written by Christoper McQuarrie:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist!”

He’s Real!

.. The Opponent does such a good job of hiding himself that we have forgotten and lost touch with our true selves – our souls. Instead, we are governed and ruled by the whims of ego, and the whole time we never realize we are being beaten and played by the Opponent.

The Opponent has fooled us into believing that we are victims of outside forces and other people’s actions. He has convinced us that our enemy is some other person instead of our own reactive nature. All the while, he hides in the shadows of our minds, lurking in the dark recesses of our beings so we never know he exists. He inflates our egos so we think we’re brilliant and in control of our lives. All the doubts we have about his existence are his doing.

Most important, he blinds us to our own godly nature so that we don’t even recognize our purpose in life. Think about it. How many people do we really know who look inward each day, trying to uproot their negative reactive traits? Yes that is the true purpose of our existence.

Altering our DNA

(Original) desire (of human soul) to Receive attracts and draws (Divine) energy. Desire to Receive can draw material and spiritual possessions for ourselves or for the sake of sharing with others as well. When the opponent came into being, his appearance added another element to our natural Desire to Receive. It was as if our spiritual DNA had been altered by adding a few more letters to the human genome. Those additional genetic letters are:


Humanity has now imbued with a Desire to Receive for the self alone. The additional “selfish gene” comes from the Opponent. The Desire to Receive for the Self Alone leaves not a scrap or morsel for anyone else. Like a black hole in deep space, this desire consumes everything within its vicinity so that even spiritual Light itself cannot escape its power.

What’s Up is Down, What’s Down is Up

… our Opponent has some cutting-edge strategies and some state-of-the-art weaponry at his disposal.

Kabbalah teaches that, more often than not, the final outcome of any life process will be the exact opposite of the first impression. Our Opponent tries to reverse this spiritual truth by inciting reactions to the present moment. He limits our ability to calculate and consider long-term consequences by igniting immediate responses to everything our eyes see and our ears hear. We misjudge situations because we lack the ability to perceive both the short-term effects and the long-term outcome. We react to the moment.

And while we are in the throes of a reaction, the Opponent goes into his arsenal and pulls out yet another weapon.

The Weapon of Time

Time is an illusion (a grand illusion that is). It’s a phantasm created, in part, by the five senses. “Yesterday”, “today” and “tomorrow” are actually enfolded into one unified whole. This is an engaging intellectual concept. But for some unknown reason, we cannot revisit the memorable moments of yesterday, we still fail to foresee the events of tomorrow, and a lot of us can barely cope with the present. That makes for one impressive illusion.

The fact of the matter is, physicists have absolutely no idea what time really is or why it bothers to exist. Go ahead and ask them. The greatest minds of science will admit that they haven’t yet figured out time, What they do know is that time is like an elastic band that can be stretched or contracted. But why time is part of our reality – for that they have no clear-cut answer.

Well, you’re now going to discover what the greatest minds of science could not: the true definition and purpose of time according to Zohar: the Wisdom Text of Hebrews.

First, what is time:

Time is the distance between cause and effect.

Time is the separation between action and reaction.

Time is the space between activity and repercussion, and the divide between crime and consequence.

Why Time Exists

Without time, we would be instantly penalized the moment we reacted. Likewise, an immediate reward would appear with each positive deed and transformation of character.

Within this gap between cause and effect, we hope to become enlightened to the senselessness of our negative reactive ways and to recognize the rewards associated with spiritual growth and positive, unselfish, proactive behavior.

But it’s up to each individual to gradually learn such lessons on our own, for time bestows upon us the greatest gift ever given:

Free Will

Our unique mission in the world is to elevate to a higher spiritual level. Thus, we are imbued with the divine-like feature of “free will” when it comes to changing our ways and ascending the spiritual ladder. Free will only occurs if the concept of time is injected into our existence.

There’s a downside to all this: Because of time’s existence, we mistakenly believe that goodness goes unrewarded while wickedness goes unpunished. But it’s merely a delay tactic.

Delayed response permit freedom of choice between good and evil behavior. Keep in mind, evil behavior encompasses much more than just murder. A few unkind words to your neighbor, spouse, or friend sets the cause-and-effect principle into motion, as well. In fact, assassinating a person’s character is often as destructive as committing a physical homicide, according to Kabbalah. One destroys the body, but the other damages the soul. We can kill someone physically, or we may also kill someone emotionally and spiritually. We can destroy someone’s relationship or we may also ruin their livelihood.

The sin of “spilling blood” is not limited to physical violence. Spilled blood also refers to the shame or embarrassment we cause people by forcing blood to rush to their faces out of humiliation when we demean them in front of others. All of these unkind actions launch a cause-and-effect chain reaction.

Here’s how it works

A person reacts and commits a misdeed. According to the law of cause and effect, these should be an immediate negative payback. However, a chunk of time is now tosses into the cause-and-effect process by our Opponent so that the negative feedback is delayed. The person now believes he or she got away with the hurtful action.

The distance between cause and effect prevents us from perceiving the connections between the events of our lives. We might have planted a negative seed 30 years go, but by the time it sprouts, we have forgotten about the seed. Eventually, a tree (chaos) “suddenly” appeared out of nowhere. Yet nothing happens by chance. Everything can be traced to some seed planted in our past. Time just makes us forget the original causative action. Chaos appears sudden because time has separate cause from effect.

Time creates the illusion of chaos when, in fact, there is a concealed order.

(to be continued)

# Further Resources:
* Evil: Kabbalistic views
* Evil: Traditional views via Learn Kabbalah
* The problem of evil in world religions
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