Tuesday, May 29, 2012

there is treasure in your heart, it is heavy with child

Women Garden

Every midwife knows
that not until a mother’s womb
softens from the pain of labour
will a way unfold
and the infant find that opening to be born.

Oh friend!
There is treasure in your heart,
it is heavy with child.

All the awakened ones,
like trusted midwives are saying,
'welcome this pain.'

It opens the dark passage of Grace.

~ Rumi

# Further:
Sufi Master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee from Golden Sufi speaks on being Pregnant with God, a term Mystics often use to indicate the state of the soul when it is attracted towards Divine Proximity, when Divine longing become very much like a new existence within, that is calling from within to acknowledge it - very much like a child, a new soul which comes into existence within a woman's body and make its presence known. What is it really mean to be pregnant with God? Here are few of his talks that might be beneficial. Click on the link to listen to the mp3 audio.

(*) Pregnant with God / Complete Talk: 33.4 mb / 1992
(*) The Inner Feminine: Her Dual Nature - Part A: 27.5 mb | Part B: 22.3 mb
(+) Substance within the Heart (43 mins)  / 2008
(+) Journey back to God / Complete Talk: 71.5 mb / 2010

More of his talks can be found here.

For those evolved soul who have understand the Way of Surrender, those who have walked in the Path of surrender, they also understand that all that comes from the Beloved are filled with blessings and nothing less. Sri Swami Chidananda was one such blessed soul whose teachings still quench the heart and soul of many. Here is his teachings titled, "Pain is a Blessing in Disguise" which sheds light on this mystery of pain and blessing. I am sharing here from the his book Daily Swadhyaya:

"Unknown to you, the Divine has been shaping you gradually for the noble, sublime life spiritual through various means. He has been putting opportunities in your way, and bringing obstacles; giving bitter experiences. God does more miracles through painful and unpleasant experiences than He does through pleasant experiences.

Pain is an eye-opener. When one realises the ground truth that association with all temporary things is fraught with sorrow, then only our journey to Eternal begins. Sorrow, therefore, seems to have some purpose. Pain is a blessing in disguise. Pain turns your mind towards God, in whom alone there is lasting happiness and peace. This mundane life is full of miseries. Life is not a bed of roses. Ups and downs, troubles and tribulations are common in this world. There is no way to escape from them. The reactions of one’s past actions have to be gone through.

There are many instances of those who had to undergo a lot of sufferings: Harishchandra, Nala, Dharmaraja, Savitri, Damayanti and Draupadi. Even Lord Christ had to undergo a lot of suffering.

God sometimes puts His devotees in difficult situations in order to strengthen them spiritually. Face them bravely. Each obstacle will strengthen you. Each failure is a stepping-stone to success. Please be happy in whatever circumstances God has placed you. Have intense faith in Him. Rely on Him, He knows what is best for you. Pray to God to give you strength to face them calmly. He will protect you and guide you.

Difficulties come in our path to test our strength. As such, we should welcome them. And with faith and trust in the Lord and His holy Name, we should tide over them. Remember: even this will pass away. God’s ways are mysterious. The world is the play of God. Be a witness in this play.

God is kind and merciful. Therefore, despair not. Be calm and serene. It is worry that weakens the mind and body. You cannot remove worries by worrying. Be ever cheerful and happy. All unpleasant happenings are so much ‘account settled’, and makes your burden lighter. There must be unshaken faith in God during trials, disappointments and difficulties. Ever be rooted in God. Hope and help come when one is utterly helpless. He is Karunanidhi, kind and all love. There is no end to His mercy. Those who surrender to Him will have no fear." (credit)

Alaa inna awliyaa Allahi 
la khawfun 'alayhim 
wa la hum yahzanoon

Verily on the friends of Allah
there is no fear
nor shall they grieve.

- The Final Testament, Chapter of Jonah10:62
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

She is a Hidden Treasure, and Her Mysteries are unveiled only to those who are hidden, and honor Her Sanctified Mysteries

In the last post titled Women’s specially hidden relationship with God there has been some stimulating and thought provoking sharing from you. In the process some comments and questions have also arrived. I am grateful to all of you for sharing this post among your social networks to help the seed of ideas, inspirations and remembrance to carry forth around the sphere of minds and hearts. Indeed the blessing from the Source is inexhaustible and is bestowed upon all who participate in sharing the light. May each of your sharing be like a new candle passing on the light without diminishing its own light.

In Islam, Allah, the All Encompassing, All Compassionate Divine Essence is a Hidden Treasure, and thus hiddenness is also a key for seekers. God Who is Neither He, nor She and thus can be called as Huwa or Hiya, He or She, without ascribing any gender bias to the Divine Who is beyond any comparison. The Divine, She is a Hidden Treasure, and Her Mysteries are unveiled to those who are hidden. For this reason, the chosen and elect friends, lovers of God remain to be hidden, whether they are male or female. Since hiddenness by essence is a feminine quality, it is not a surprise that in religious / spiritual history, we find the luminous women figures as mostly hidden characters and their relationship with the Divine was of that hidden quality, private, intimate and direct.

This subject of hiddenness is a vast one that is beyond concept and easily escapes our familiar forms of perceiving and knowing. Nevertheless I am intending to write this post to address some of the questions and comments that surface around the post. Please note that here I am trying to state in as concise form as I can, so forgive the brevity. I am also quoting some related passages from the Book "The Unknow She," with acknowledge to it's author Hilary Hart, may God reward her for her lovely work.

The first comment of the previous post carried few questions within:

Truly there is no such thing as coincidence. I have been contemplating on this topic a lot lately, especially Ibn Arabi's notion of women. ... Come to think of it I guess in part it is also our (women's) ability to carry a "seed" to a full term, despite the pain and agony, makes us a living proof that as human beings (both man and women) we have the capability to carry the seeds of love El Vedud has put in our hearts to a full term. It is not easy neither for women nor for men. Spiritual birth is unquestionably much more painful than the physical birth but in the end the reward is unity with God which is the ultimate treasure (May Allah grant us the privilege)  
On the other hand one thing I find it difficult in Ibn Arabi's writing is if man can only truly contemplate God through unity with women does this mean the same goes for women as well? I mean how can women contemplate God in the same sense? 
I like to think best way to contemplate God is through our opposite sex counterpart but then this brings up another question. What happens when unity with that person does not bring you closer to God and even damages spiritual well being? What happens than? Is divorce solely on this ground is an option? How do you balance spiritual weights of divorce on one hand and not being able to truly contemplate God with that person on the other? Any thoughts? Thanks.

To address your first question, yes, in my humble opinion, if a man can contemplate God through unity with women, the other way is also true.  Please note that, I am leaving the two words “only” and “truly” here, for I believe there could well be other ways of contemplating God, path which could uniquely be ‘true’ for individuals.

The Final Prophet of God, peace and blessings to his soul, is recorded to transmitted us this truth that “Paths to God are as numerous as the children of Adam" (at turuqu ila 'Llahi ka-nufusi bani Adam). For example there have been men of God who took very different path than what is discussed here in connection to Shaykh Ibn Arabi and reached very lofty spiritual stations and the same is true for many women of God. To answer to the question as to “how can women contemplate God in the same sense”, it is through love, devotion and surrender for the earthly beloved, women may approach towards the Love, the Surrender and the Devotion to the Supreme Beloved.

One of the readers have made a very valuable comment, "a man can't truly love a woman if he is unable to perceive her already as a part of himself. So a man who loves a woman is complete." It reminds me of what the Holy Prophet Muhammad has transmitted, "that man is the best, who is best in the eye of his wife." This tells that the recognition and acceptance of a man is by his partner / wife / spouse. The love between a man and his wife and vice-versa is the immanent aspect of Divine Love because through them we co-participate in God's love and intermingles with His Love.

I remember in this connection a valuable write-up by Dara O. Shayda which may provide a better explanation of how this alchemy may be achieved. Read it here, Who Do You Really Love?

Its worth noting that for a man, it is in the opposite sex (not only in wife, but also in other women in life), particularly mother, since in Sacred Islamic Tradition, one’s mother is given exquisite honor. It is said that “paradise in under the feet of mother” which is not an ordinary statement. This is to say for a son, the straightest path to achieve the highest in the eternal life is to love the mother, to be devoted to her and finally to achieve salvation by making her well pleased.  When it comes to spouse, since after a certain period we lose our parents in the womb of time, it is in the contemplation on the qualities found in the partner for man, that the quintessential feminine qualities of the Divine such as Rahma (Mercy), Hubb (Love), Surrender are seen, recognized and experienced.

Similarly for a woman, it is through the dedication, faithfulness, love, honor, devotion and surrender to the earthly beloved, her spouse or partner, she can contemplate Dedication, Faith, Love, Reverence, Devotion and Surrender to God. The task of pleasing the Supreme Beloved begins through the earthly beloved. There is a narration (via Buraida) by the Holy Prophet regarding prostration to show respect. He said, "If I would have given permission to do Sajada (falling prostrate), it would have been to a women in respect of her husband," but bowing one's head in Islam is reserved for Allah, the Divine Alone and hence giving that supreme honor is not shared with human beings. Never the less, the hadith is an indication that the highest form of reverence and devotion for a partner is to flow to the other partner for a woman.

Now coming to the most difficult and complicated of the questions:

What happens when unity with that person does not bring you closer to God and even damages spiritual well being? What happens than? Is divorce solely on this ground is an option? How do you balance spiritual weights of divorce on one hand and not being able to truly contemplate God with that person on the other? Any thoughts?

To begin to answer this question, I believe its helpful first to understand the spiritual law that we as human being experience only that which is either inside of us or that which is necessary for our evolution since we still have lessons to learn in life or in another world, still to graduate by turning away from our ego’s addiction to the lesser gods (ilaha) (or, golden calf if you like) in order to (re)turn to the Supreme Truth. There are many mystics / spiritual communicators who are fond of describing this by describing the world as a mirror (‘aarshii nagar’ in Bengali, literally means, the City of Mirror). The reason for this is that we experience, see, become conscious, get entangled with only that which is playing inside of us in that particular moment in time. Yes our mind or spirit or soul progress / evolve in time, but for any particular moment, whatever we’re experiencing, it is a reflection of our inner state / condition / reality.

Once we understand this, then we may turn towards the idea of purification. Whether it’s the metaphysical science of alchemy or the science of tasawwuf (which is basically the art of becoming pure, safa) – at the beginning, at the middle and at the end its all about getting rid of the veils and purifying one’s self. The whole drama of life, be it the alarming rate of divorce in present world or the constant psychological battle with the partner, the love and hate situation among lovers – all of these stem from the side-effect of not paying enough attention to purification. As a result even love become toxic through the tremendous amount of pollution that is brought into the energy-space of the partners, the couple.

When people have no idea about the subtle nature of ego, how it operates, who is the archenemy of man, how does it sabotage our peace and harmony by fueling our ego and sentiment, how to recognize the whisperings of the archetype enemy – it would be too much to expect to live in harmony, let alone to see God in every movement and stillness of the partner. “Wheresoever you turn you see the Face of God” becomes an impossibility since the faculty of seeing is veiled by vast distance of galaxies when our heart remains veiled by many blameworthy traits of the self still dominating inside our ego such as pride, showing off, arrogance, envy, miserliness, vengeance, ingratitude, denial of blessings, keeping heart attached to materialistic stuff, unjustifiable anger, breaking promise, pretension, hypocrisy and so forth. The sufis talk about 68 blemishes of the nafs, as a teaching tool to make one aware of one's possible enemy / impurity within.

When people fail to learn how to be in the moment, how to experience the existence as it is or when people forget the truth that love is all about lover’s becoming nothing for the sake of the beloved, that it is the super exercise of dissolving the ego for the sake of the beloved – then yes we may even become more egoistic in not seeing our faults but blaming on the partner and eventually getting into a scenario such as divorce, battle in the court, trying to kill each other and so forth. I am not generalizing the scenario here, but what I am trying to convey is the fact that we often are not ready to face the darkness of our ego-self, are not prepared to take the steep path of purification. And that is one of the main reason for trouble among partners.

If one to look from metaphysical perspective, Christ didn’t permit divorce or the question of marriage after divorce (see Matthew 5:32, 19:9). According to Jesus’ teaching, he never approves divorce, only separation, that is divorce without the right to remarry. He says in Luke 16: 18 - 'Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.' Another of his teaching of unity is this 'What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.'' (Mark 10:6-9)

Its prohibited for one who is Christ-like or who is touched by Christ consciousness. I know this is hard to accept, but that is the truth. Divorce or if we use another term for it is “separation” is the opposite of “unity” and comes from the absence of love and thus symbolizes anti-christ characteristic. Hence in Islam, which, in the evolution scheme of Divine revelations, is the successor of Christianity – do permit divorce but reminds us that is a hated thing in the eye of God. One need not to go near divorce, may God save us from such calamity, if both the partner is well educated about the ego, how it operates, the truth that love is all about dissolving the ego and where “you, not I” is the rule of the game, then only peace, tranquility, harmony and love will remain in every abode. But alas! We prefer to follow our ego and the archenemy, than embark on the path of purification.

The idea of anti-christ, from spiritual perspective means 'absence of love', 'absence of empathy' or 'absence of grace.' And this is what is manifesting all over the place around the world and one of its side-effect in the outer world is gross violation in the name of love, gross violation of the sanctity of body in the name of sex, pornography, manipulation and disregard for sanctity of family, abnormal number of divorce rate which is causing tremendous damage to the psychology of the children, the younger ones who will inherit this world and sadly it is them who are growing up in dysfunctional family, growing up by not experiencing compassion and love and respect between their parents. Divorce, to me, personally is only an outer symptom of our inner state of disunity.

Some mystics call our addiction to transcendence as an escape where people ignore the suffering of the neighbor, the homeless and enjoy an expensive trip to the holy city in the name of religious ecstasy, similarly divorce is also an escape from facing the darkness of one’s ego which is manifested in clash with the spouse and instead of facing it, working on it and accepting and dissolving the ego’s blemishes, the society tells us to take the shortcut called “divorce” and live with the ego’s darkness and continue to suffer while suffering continue to come in many forms.

This is in no way to mean in general sense. Indeed it would be an injustice to truth to paint every picture of divorce in the same manner, because in many cases there are abuse, there are violation of dignity and in that case to preserve one's peace, dignity and honor one has to walk away. Such scenarios are not something where we can contemplate on the Divine Light in the partner since it is so abusively veiled.

When the male and female come together, something new can come in life, a new child born in the heart, a child that is ‘true being.’ This is the immaculate conception.

You know the basic underlying principle in our nature is harmony. So, after the male joins the female, after the East meets the West, the duality, the opposition falls away. It all dissolves. You don’t know what’s male or female anymore, they become so entwined. In consciousness, there is concord and agreement and equanimity. The struggle disappears. The union happens, you are in harmony, the isness, this state of being.
- Lynn Barron, from The Unknown She

'Everything you have ever been told about the divine is prejudiced by patriarchal distortions...
- Andrew Harvey, The Unknown She

'The transcendent and formless have become the goals, the world has been left behind. And yet for women this goes against our nature, which is to be involved, through love, in the entire process of creation.'
- Mystic Angela Fischer

When women really live the love that already exists in their lives, and accept the deep vulnerability love demands, they will be led by love in the spiritual work they need to do.
- Hilary Hart

At this point its worth reminding ourselves what one Anonymous commenter in the post commented saying, (the important point in the comment is in bold):

I do think both men and women carry female and male ENERGIES. Some men are more gentle and nurturing than women sometimes and sometimes women are more proactive and dynamic than men. I have always thought the journey to God lies within each soul. It is our job to make the masculine and feminine energies within us reconcile just as they are reconciled and one in God. If God is in us and we reconcile those energies then we are more One with God.

If we have a partner who can encourage that journey and whom we can encourage and nurture back, well that's perfect! I think an earthly beloved can inspire our growth and help it along but I do not feel it helps to depend on that beloved to complete our journey for us - that only we can do with the grace of God. If we do and then work and love and share with others, then life may become blissful. But because society labels and forces men and women into boxes and presupposed roles, I feel this whole dynamic is messed up at the moment. But I really believe we can find the way if we look to God.

I am reminded of what Lynn Barron said in an interview with Hilary Hart, quoted in The Unknown She, which may further help understand that when we talk about the Divine Feminine, its not about gender or being a woman or something which is dealt solely by women. It incorporates spiritual work, recognition for any soul, and any human being regardless of gender.

Lynn said in that wonderful interview:

“The ascent is work, effort. You take one step at a time, pass through one stage after another, move closer and closer to the light. But suddenly the light becomes so bright it is black. And the descent begins. The descent is a pull. You have surrendered and it’s not up to you. You are pulled by love. You are gone. You are lost in the luminous black, the sweet silence, the dynamic, living emptiness of the Unknown She.”

... Annihilated – as the Sufis say – in the fires of divine love, Lynn has been shown a unique vision of what is possible in the evolution of human consciousness. Within her understanding, there exists a state of consciousness currently available to all humanity in a way it has never been before. This is a consciousness of oneness beyond duality, a pure and formless state of being whose essence is love. It is, as Lynn calls it, the “Unknown She.”

“When I talk about the Unknown She,” Lynn explains, ‘I am talking about a state of beyond concept, idea, or form – a timeless state. All sense duality has been dissolved. There are no biases or distinctions born of conditioning, culture, or tradition. The illusory boundaries have disappeared. You have let go of all that is confined in time and space. You have given up all ideas of individuality.

‘The Unknown She is a state of love, in which there are no intermediaries between you and the divine,’
You have sensed the subtle connection to the essence, the divine energy. You have rid yourself of any sense of separation, for nothing in the world of relative truth is real for you. This is a state of silence and emptiness. It is an active, dynamic state of radiating luminous black light. In this state of being, silence and emptiness exist in oneness. It is a pure state of being that contains itself within itself. Here God rests in action, as when God spoke, Be”

‘It’s so hard to recognize.’ She says, ‘because we want to bring it back into the old forms of this world, and what I’m saying is it isn’t there. It’s turning within, a new way to be in this world of time and space. The visible outer picture is being formed in the moment, and yet this state itself is timeless. It is a consciousness of love and being, and and conception before conception takes form. It is the formless form, it is the formless form, it is a non dimensional state of being here in ordinary reality.’

‘When you start to investigate this concept of consciousness of love in which all is contained within itself’- she explains ‘the closest thing that comes to it is Mary- if you’re within the Judeo/Christian/Islamic mystical tradition. Mary had pure consciousness; she was in a virgin state. She conceived from a pure state. In this state impregnation.conception, gestation are all self contained within the principle love.

Just because I call it ‘She’ does not mean that it is female. It isn’t a gender, it is neither masculine nor feminine, but for some reason you want to say ‘She.” It is a feeling state, and feeling is a female quality. You just feel it. You can’t think, or put thoughts around it. It stays in the formless realm. For example, you feel as if you are enveloped by presence. There is such intimacy, as if you have been embraced.

.. when you are in this state, you are in the female element. Love, the Essence. She embraces you and you embrace this feeling – the She – with you heart, so it can live inside of you as you. This feeling emanates from the source. Its is a state of pure transformative love.

This state of pure being, is the beginning of a journey that takes one to the most hidden chambers within your heart – into the beyond of the beyond. Love itself embrace you and takes you further into the mysteries of love. One enters the Unknown She, becomes Her luminous black light, and can then be guided by this light into deeper states of consciousness. The journey happens beyond ordinary consciousness, is only remembered later, when one comes back into the ordinary mind. The memories are sometimes images, but sometimes just exist as direct knowledge, as though one simply understand the meaning of one’s experience.

“Remember the Prophet said, there is a hidden treasure that wants to be known. Enter Her light and Her light will take you to the treasure. Enter this luminous blackness, and She Who is Love Itself will take you deeper and deeper into love, into the sweet honey, into golden amber streams of light.

Abide in the silence and She will come. Remember Her, so She will come. She is lost in the shadows behind many veils. Remember She, She wants to be known.

Peace She is. She wants to be known.
“The assembly is filled with fragrance at the mention of Her,
and every tongue utters Her name.” ~ Ibn Arabi / art credit

# References:
(*) The Unknown She, article by Hilary Hart
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Women's specially hidden relationship with God


Someone close to me but who wishes to remain hidden shared recently that she would often face this question in her mind as to why the Qur'an, when read by a woman, feels like a Book addressed exclusively to men.

This is not an unique scenario of Qur'an. In fact all the scriptures when read sensitively generally appears to address men, talk about issues of men, their problems and solutions etc., and very few verses or portion seems to address the women. Its even more glaring for earlier revelations such as the Torah and the New Testament. In the Qur'an at least we find for the first time in a major revelation which dedicate verses exclusively for women's right, their right to inherit property, right of the women in marriage, right of divorce, laws of divorce, command to give reverence to the womb that bore us etc.., in the Quran we have chapters by the title Women (Nisa), Maryam (Mother Mary) and Sheba (Queen Sheba during the time of King Solomon) something quite unusual for Old Testament or New. Same goes to Eastern Traditions of the past. Whether we look at the Biblical narratives or in the Qur'an, we find that almost all the Prophets and Messengers of God were men, the whole energy of the Bible or Qur'an seems to be male dominating. In short the Religious Text or Prime Scripture seems to carry a gender bias.
While exploring this subject on her own and introspecting, herself being a practicing and contemplative faithful person, she eventually came to this realization that women's relationship with God is very exclusive, of hidden in nature and very private, and thus it is not openly shared and discussed. This is why in the Scripture though there are a number of illuminated women figures who are even mentioned by their name, yet their stories are much hidden than exposed in full new.

And I think this is very important point we tend to overlook or forget when we try to rationalize everything. Certainly there is truth to the above mentioned realization. Let me explain why.

Energy of time

Before going into the inner reasoning as to why women are often veiled from the common discourse in Scriptural narrative, first we may look from a more practical level, specially from the socioeconomic atmosphere of the times when revelations came.

If we could transport ourselves back in time, say two or three thousands years ago to a human society (any society in that matter), as far as we know from historical knowledge, women had a very different role than what we see in post-industrial world. The economic activities of women were much different, so were their roles. Women had more natural and organic place in the inner circle of activities, in the upbringing of children, motherhood, role as care giver, companion and in some occasion as wise counselor, but all of these were done behind the curtain.

On this point Mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee's talk on "Feminine Consciousness & The Masculine Mind" is good to listen. (+) Click here to download the mp3.

Its quite true that religious scripture, be it Hindu Veda, Jewish Torah or Christian Bible and the secondary sources - almost all of them have serious gender bias. Not only their discourses are male gender specific, but sometime they could be found seriously antagonistic towards women. In many traditions women were seen as source of evil, medieval Europe even discussed within the excuse of theologian debate questions as to whether female had any soul or even if they did, how inferior it might be compared to men. There are serious problem found by modern scholars about how women were seen in certain ancient Hindu texts.

One aspect of this issue stems from the fact of considering women less by certain figureheads in those traditions (Peter for example was not a fan of Mary Magdalene and openly protested to Christ as found in Gnostic Gospels. Simon Peter is known to have openly said, 'women are not worthy of life.') The other aspect remains is the fact that narratives about the virtuous women are found to be so lacking when compared to male characters in religious texts.

If we dig deep into the possible reasons, one thing is very clear to understand that women's relationship in human society were quite different than today. Participation of women in society was very limited in societies thousands of years back and it was mostly men who ran every kind of activities, from economic to political, from food hunting to administrating power. The period of major religious revelations were well within that influence and thus the language of the revelation which occurred within time, had the effect of its time.

Also since history was written by almost exclusively by men, and even out of that population of common people only few were privileged to have access to reading and writing skills, it is understandable why we find very little description of the women who might have been around powerful personalities. It was not just the norm to bring into exposure those who were considered belonging to the inner streams of life.

This perspective explains why we know very little about women disciples of Jesus, even about Mother Mary the Bible is astonishingly silent. For this very reason we know so little about the Mother of Moses or wife of Abraham, mother of Ishmael. All of these women, as far as we gather from their role in history, were spiritually and otherwise very very powerful. They were almost equivalent of powerful high priestess who had direct access to the Divine Presence or with Whom God communicated through revelations. Never the less, the nature of time was such that their incidents were not widely known (since they spent their entire life in semi-seclusion, by remaining as personalities of inner circle), and even lesser transmitted.

Hiddenness / disappearance in God is essentially a manifestation of feminine principle

Apart from socioeconomic or societal structural reasoning, there is another very important point we often overlook when we explore this question as to why Scriptures have less coverage on women, even in the case of specially chosen and spiritually gifted women. And the answer lies in the very nature of the feminine. The actual point is about the reality of feminine nature and her relationship with everything.

Mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee gives example in his book "Love is a Fire: The Sufi's Mystical Journey Home" while describing what is masculine and what is feminine. He writes,
Everything that comes into life has two sides, a masculine and feminine quality, even love. The masculine side of love is “I love you.” Longing is the feminine side of love: “I am waiting for you. I am longing for you.” Longing is the cup waiting to be filled.

The soul is feminine before God, waiting in a state of surrender for the Beloved to come... The lover waits for her Beloved. And when He comes to us, in those moments of meeting and merging that are so intimate that one can hardly speak of them, the lover is feminine, pierced, penetrated by the tremendous bliss of His love.

A number of qualities of the pure feminine aspect include: surrender, receptivity, privacy, veiling, seclusion, to disappear. This is exactly why even the most luminous female figures in the history, their deep relationship with God are not described or talked about. They are not featured as prominently as we think from our perspective, and this is because of the hiddenness of the feminine quality.

To give specific example, we can take Khadija, the beloved wife of the Prophet who played very serious role both in the private life of the Prophet as well as to the struggle of his mission. It was Khadija who counseled and gave her strength even on the very night when Prophet received revelation and were completely baffled by the unexpected experience. It was Khadija who consoled him, spoke words of faith to him and helped him recognize the truth of his momentous experience by taking him to a very old and wise man Waraqah. This incident alone is quite symbolic. It required a woman to help recognize who he was, what his greatest role was.

Yet about Khadija and her personal devotion to God, very little is known. Similarly Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet who was known to resemble the Prophet the most than any other family members, when she was about to leave the world, her last wish was that her funeral be done in secret and her final resting place be not known to anyone. Again we face the reality of hiddenness, the complete and voluntary disappearance, literally. This is a quintessential quality of the elect who chose to hide themselves completely, and this also an act of surrender, again a feminine quality.

Interestingly enough, this not exclusive to females only. The most intimate relationship with God by God's most elect servants become veiled as they enter into higher planes of surrender. When we wish to turn out attention about the inner life of Mother Mary, her utterly devoted period in the Temple, her difficult times while she carried Jesus in her Womb - we are made disappointed because these are not divulged to public, not even through Scriptures. Similarly we know very little about Mother of Moses or the most intelligent and dear companion of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene. This is precisely because by the very nature of feminine quality, it becomes hidden.

This hiddenness is a testimony to the truth that human language and the landscape of mind has its limit. For the same reason, the special friends of God or awliya Allah are known to remain hidden under the cloak of God and this hiddenness is again stems from feminine quality of true surrender, complete receptivity to the Beloved, the disappearing in God. Similarly the narrative of the ascension of Prophet Muahmmad seems to stop at a point where human language cannot enter. This is again the feminine quality manifesting in disappearing in God.

It is because of this specially hidden relationship with God that women possess, that is one of the real reason why women are not featured as much as we would wish them in the Scriptures, for, they are veiled by the cloak of God, God Who is the Jealous Lover Who Wishes that His chosen beloveds be known only to Him and not to anyone other than Him (Ghairullah). ("For the Lord, is a Jealous God" - Exodus)

Inna lillahi, wa inna ilahi rajiun. Indeed we are for Allah, and to Him is the return. This belonging to the Beloved is also a quality of the feminine, and also to return to Him is disappearing into Him and through this greater reality of disappearing in God that we attain eternal life, we truly live in al-Hayy, the Ever Living Who dies not.

Cover of The Unknown She by Hilary Hart
Mystical hints

To leading Sufi mystics such as Ibn Arabi, for him male and female are coupled together in a necessary cosmic unity on the level of both Creation and Gnosis. "And there is no more powerful creature in the universe than woman." And it is the resilience, the endurance of a woman from her bearing the childbirth to patiently up bringing children are all testimony to that.

To Ibn Arabi, both men and women share all the ranks of sainthood, even that of the Pole (qutb). Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Women and men are siblings (shaqaîiq)", it would have been sufficient; that is to say, all that is rightfully a man's, in terms of stations, degrees and qualities, is also possible for whichever woman God wills.

The matter is summarised in the fact that God (haqq) can never be witnessed divested of matter. And since witnessing cannot take place except in matter, a man's witnessing of God in woman is the grandest and most complete witnessing. "God is never seen immaterially; and the vision of Him in woman is the most perfect of all." In this sense, female woman is one who completes male man in gnosis. How did Ibn 'Arabî present this idea?

It springs from contemplating the prophetic saying: "I was made to love three things of your world, women, perfume, and the freshness of the eyes [that was brought to me] in prayer." It may be deduced that the basis is man's yearning for his Lord, who is his origin, and that is why God made him love woman - for as God, the Most High, loves him who is in His image, He makes loveable to man the woman whom He extracted for him from him and who appeared in his image. When man loves woman, he desires to conjoin and unite with her, and when the act is consummated pleasure overtakes all  parts of the body, and it is as if he were annihilated in her. Thus, as God is jealous for his servant, He orders him to perform a full ablution in order that he be cleansed of "other", and return to observing Him in the one in whom he has been annihilated, i.e. in woman. God has cleansed man by complete ablution because he has to witness God in woman, and that is the grandest and the most complete contemplation, because it is a witnessing of God as actor and acted-upon simultaneously.
- Shared via Ibn Arabi Society Texts

Ibn 'Arabî shows a great deal of ingenuity when he makes femaleness a cosmic principle permeating through every creature and product, sharing with maleness the act of creation in every plane. Femaleness and maleness are equal in their ontological amplitude, but they are separate in their roles and degrees of being.

Femaleness is a degree of receptivity, of acted-upon-ness, and of being effected by maleness, which is the possessor of the degree of actor and acted-upon. It is also for maleness the place for depositing, seeding, growing, bringing into being, creating[30] and manifestation. Each receptive and acted-upon and being effected is in the degree of female even if it be male; and everything which is a place for depositing, seeding, growing and creating, is in the degree of female even if it be male. Therefore, every creature in the universe is "female" on both the ontological and the gnostic levels.

He said, "We are females for what He impregnates in us Praise be to God...The degree of every acted-upon is that of a female, and there is nothing that is not acted-upon. Action is in reality divided between the actor and the acted-upon: from the side of the actor comes the power or ability, and from the side of being acted upon comes the receptivity to being empowered." - Souad Hakim, (credit)

"The paradise is under the feet of mothers."
- Sacred Tradition of Islam, Prophet Muhammad

Someone once asked the Prophet, “Among people, who is most deserving of loving kindness (birr)?”  He answered, “Your mother”.  The questioner asked, “After her, who?” He replied, “Your mother”.  He asked “After her, who?” He said, “Your mother.  Then your father.”

"The right of your mother is that you know that she carried you where none carries anyone, she gave to you that fruit of her heart that which no one gives to anyone, and she protected you with all her organs.  She did not care if she went hungry as long as you ate, if she was thirsty as  long as you drank, if she was naked as long as you were clothed, if she was in the sun as long as you were in the shade.  She gave up sleep for your sake, she  protected you from the heat and cold, in order that you might belong to her.  You will not be able to show her gratitude, unless through God’s  help and giving success." - ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn

- She is waiting to be recognized.
- Do you mean she wants to be recognized as a woman?
- I mean that she is waiting to be recognized as all women ... Don't you yet realize that all women are in the same position? Until the women is recognized by man she can never be completely free. Man has forgotten too much. Yet if he recognized the woman, he would free himself. He would become complete. The woman, the earth, has been waiting so patiently...
 - The Last Barrier by Reshad Feild

"Happy are you that you hunger for the truth, for I will satisfy you with the bread of wisdom. Happy are you, that you knock, for I will open to you the door of life. Happy are you, that you would cast off the power of Satan, for I will lead you into the Kingdom of our Mother's angels, where the power of Satan cannot enter."

And they asked him in amazement: "Who is our Mother and which Her angels? And where is Her Kingdom?" Jesus replied: "Your Mother is in you, and you in Her."
- Jesus Christ in Essene Gospel of Peace

Though Fatima was his daughter, the Prophet Muhammad called her Umm Abi’ha (mother of her father). About Fatima, Prophet said, "The most beloved of my family to me is Fatimah. Whoever hurts Fatima, hurts me, and whoever hurts me, hurts Allah, exalted be His Majesty! Fatimah is part of me, and whoever pleases her, pleases me."

Woman is a beam of the divine Light.She is not the being whom sensual desire takes as its object.
She is a Creator, it should be said. She is not a Creature.
- Rumi, Henry Corbin

O humanity! ... revere the sacredness of the womb that bore you.
- The Quran, An-Nisa (The Woman) 4:1

# Read Next: Follow-up Post
* She is a Hidden Treasure, and Her Mysteries are unveiled only to those who are hidden, and honor Her Sanctified Mysteries

# Further, Good Reads and to Explore:
* Ibn 'Arabî's Twofold Perception of Woman, Woman as Human Being and Cosmic Principle
* The role of the Divine Feminine and how it translates into women’s wisdom: Past, Present and Future
* Women of Light in Sufism | Sachiko Murata
* Woman’s Image Transformed : The Sufism of Ibn ‘Arab
* The Creative Feminine Principle in Ibn al-‘Arabi’s School of Thought
* The Lady Nizam – an Image of Love and Knowledge
* A woman with perfume and prayer speaks with Christ-Sophia by Trish Madigan (PDF)
The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (PDF)

* The Status of Women in Islam
* Women in the Quran
* Woman and her Rights

Past posts on Feminine Principle:
+ Divine Feminine in Islam and Fatima | part 1
+ Divine Feminine in Islam and Fatima | part 2
+ Mystery of Woman | the Feminine Soul
+ Feminine Spirituality | Inspirations and Wisdom
+ Sohbet with Hilary Hart | Author of The Unknown She
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Interview with Graphic Designer: Joumana Medlej

Beauty, which the knower appreciates and a lover admires, is worshiped by the mystic. It is useless to try to put into words what beauty is, but if anything can explain it, it is the other word for beauty and that is harmony. It is the harmonious combination of colors, the harmonious grouping of  lines, and the harmonious blending of the objects of nature that suggest to us the idea of beauty. In order to be beautiful an object must be harmonious, for in point of fact, harmony is beauty.

If there is anything in the world that makes man unconscious of himself, in other words that makes him lose his self-consciousness, if there is anything that makes man humble, that makes him surrender willingly, it is beauty. Beauty is something that conquers without a sword, that holds without hands, that is more tender then the petals of a flower and stronger then anything in the world. The Prophet has said, 'God is Beauty and He loves what is beautiful.'
~ Sufi Mystic Inayat Khan on Beauty and Harmony (credit)

The hidden harmony is stronger than the visible.
~ Greek philosopher Heraclitus

It was the beautiful and harmonious calligraphy works of Joumana Medlej that suddenly appeared when I was searching for some artwork on the internet. The exceptional beauty that Joumana's work bring with a very fresh style immediately captured my heart and I wanted to know more about the artist. Soon I discovered that Joumana Medlej is a leading Graphic Designer and Illustrator from Lebanon who not only does contemporary Arabic calligraphy but she is also a designer for video games, has publisher her own Graphic Novel and she is also an accomplish travel writer. When I was browsing her collection of calligraphic designs I noticed that most of them were accomplished by beautiful and captivating quotation from various Sufi Masters, from classical to modern mystics. That was when I was inspired to conduct a sohbet or interview with Joumana Medlej. What follows is an email interview with Joumana where she shares about her work, inspiration, calligraphy and technology. Don't forget to explore her beautiful works from the links provided at the end of this piece.

Sadiq: Please tell a little about yourself and your work.

Joumana: I'm trained as a graphic designer, with a preference for illustration in which I'm self-taught. Currently I design videogames and publish children's books, alongside more personal projects such as a comic book, art tutorials, icon sets, and of course Arabic calligraphy.

Since when you seriously started your creative career?

I've had many serious starts, really! Each in a different direction as I looked for my own thing in the creative fields. But you could say it started when I decided to study and work in a creative field, when I was 17 and chose graphic design as a major. I've always been more of an artist than a designer, but I felt it would give me the tools to be self-sufficient in any creative field necessary as I made a place for myself, and it has.

What is your most favorite source of inspiration ?

Life is altogether inspiring. There's nothing out there that can't plant the seed of an idea in me, even though I can only act on some of them. I get a lot of inspiration from my travels, from nature, from my dreams, and from unexpected and uncontrollable things such as the way a building ages and decays.

Calligrapher: Samir Sayegh
You do very interesting Arabic calligraphy. What made you interested in it? What is unique about it?

For many years now I have worked for and with master calligrapher Samir Sayegh as an assistant. Through him, by the sheer amount of hands-on work I got to do on letter forms, the "knowledge of letters" opened up to me – I use here Ibn Arabi's term ('ilm al-huruf) because nothing describes it better, as it is between art and science but it's beyond either. No other script in existence (and I have studied many, being one of my interests) behaves the way Arabic does and can be manipulated in the same way.

Early scribes of Arabic, in the early Islamic period, did not use it for functional reasons, since they relied on memorization of their sacred texts. Instead they were aware that they were giving a visual form to the words of Revelation, so they developed it along very different lines than, say, Latin. It's difficult to describe rationally how the result functions, I can do no better than call it magic – something extraordinary that unfolds before our eyes but that logic cannot explain or create.

You mentioned in an interview once how Arabic calligraphy has strong relationship with geometry.  Could you please explain a bit?

Yes, Kufi in particular is intimately related to geometry since it is constructed, not traced with the hand. Each letter can be manipulated quite extensively, but contains a geometric essence that makes it recognizable, and that needs to be respected by the artist. When one works with this essence, or rather as this essence dictates, one sees geometry unfold in unpredictable ways that always fit the right way. Geometry underlies the universe, it's why it was a sacred science in the past, which is now long forgotten, but the Arabic script still has the power to plug into this matrix and sing in tune with it. This is why it speaks so powerfully to those who look at it even if they can't read a single letter.

I noticed many of you calligraphy are accompanied by quotes from well known sufi masters.  How did you discover them?

Gradually in my readings along the years, and for some of them I had no idea they were Sufis until recently – it's amazing how much this path has permeated, even generated, philosophy and the arts in the Arabo-Islamic world. My mentor asserts that calligraphy is a Sufi art as the great calligraphers of the past were usually Sufis and this influenced its development.  Also, take any Arabic word pertaining to spirituality, religion, or philosophy, and you can find Sufi wisdom on it. So they keep popping up and one leads to another; by now I have collected enough writings and sayings to know where to look wen I need a quote (I always look for one when I complete a piece, to accompany it.) It's a two-way process now as I get inspiration from these masters' teachings, in turn.

On Dhikr Joumana Quotes: "The perfect mystic is not an ecstatic devotee lost in contemplation of Oneness, nor a saintly recluse shunning all commerce with mankind, but “the true saint” goes in and out amongst the people and eats and sleeps with them and buys and sells in the market and marries and takes part in social intercourse, and never forgets God for a single moment." ~ Abu Said ibn Abi-l-Khayr

You create beautiful tutorials for illustration. Could please share the steps involved in a calligraphy?

Every calligrapher has his method, of course, that depends on the nature of his composition and materials. For me, it starts with cutting the paper into a square, and marking the median lines. Then I build the composition in pencil, paint it, trace the outlines, and gild it last. Sometimes I have to take these steps in a different order, if a piece presents some complexities, but that's roughly it. The very last step is varnishing, if necessary.

The Process of "Dhikr" (final form in previous image) becoming a design (see more)

Your style is very modern or contemporary. How do you achieve that with an art form which is quite traditional and for those who wish to achieve it in other fields, what is your advice for them? Is there a secret to this?

I've acquired a strong familiarity with the essence of the Kufi letters and that's what allows me to create very modern and/or personal representations of them that still feels rooted in tradition. I learned this from ustadh Sayegh, but there is no verbal or intellectual teaching involved: one has to work with them and work with them and work with them until they're second nature. The secret is immersion, there are no shortcuts. Those who wish to achieve this need to simply do it with their full passion and for a long time. As this happens naturally and effortlessly when one is truly enamored with a domain, there's no need to wonder how to achieve it, it'll just happen. Just don't think you can get results if you're not motivated enough to give yourself to it fully.

A glimpse at Joumana's workspace

Now a days a lot of artists are using technology and specially Internet, how do you see the marriage between creativity, beauty and technology?

Artists have always used technology. A couple of centuries ago, tubed paint was cutting edge technology, as earlier they had to make their own paint! So I don't see anything happening now that has not been continually happening since the early days of art. Creativity has always pounced on new techniques and materials to broaden its range of expression. What is really interesting about today however is the internet, in terms of sharing one's creativity. Never before has distance been so irrelevant, or art been so accessible to so many at no cost. That alone has helped trigger a creativity boom as ideas and how-to's are now just a click away.

I came to know that you have quite an active dream life. Do you write down your dreams? Do you incorporate message from dreams to your work, if yes, how?

Ah yes, dreams are very meaningful to me as a tool for knowing oneself, and I always write them down and take the time to understand them. A lot of my inspiration comes from my dreams (for instance recently I made a piece from the word Ramz, after dreaming that I met a Persian poet by that name), and inversely I sometimes see my work in my dreams in ways that give it a new meaning. Because dreams come from within, their guidance adds something to my work that comes from a deeper place than the solutions offered by the intellect.

Great many poets/ artists are deeply influenced by Sufi message. How much do you drink from sufi ideas? Does your comic Malaak has certain sufic ideas into it?

It's hard to quantify this because, as I'm finding out, Sufism is incredibly pervasive in our Middle-eastern cultures, and also very discreet. I can think of a few examples of people or notions that inspired me deeply and it's only years later that I discovered they were connected to Sufism. I'm pretty sure by now that all of the Near and Middle East was shaped and built by Sufism, which is a way of being in the world as much as it is a personal spirituality, and that the area is dying in terrible throes because we have lost it, and sometimes actively destroyed it. As for my comic Malaak, I have been very startled lately to find that ideas I had put into it could also be found in Sufi teachings. But then again, when I started writing it, I based my entire research about the Jinn on Ibn Arabi's writings, and that was my first encounter with him and I had no idea he had anything to do with Sufism. So from the beginning, that was there unbeknownst to me.

You have been using internet for quite some time now? You began using it since 1997? How do you view its changes and potentiality?

It's fantastic, people don't realize what a blessing it is, but they would if it happened to disappear. It's the first time in our history that we can experience humanity beyond time or space. Reaching out to someone or to a piece of info online is as easy as sending a neural signal to a part of our body to move it. Perhaps, thanks to it, future generations will have a different mindset from ours, being born in a world where everyone is connected, not separated.

Darvish Icon Set by Joumana

As a person who adore beauty in many of its form, do you have any vision of how technology will influence our life and those who are interested in transmitting realizations (be it realization of simple beauty around us or alike) or consciousness? Could you please share your ideas revolving around this.

I think that depends on how smart we are about it. Technology right now is a "weapon of mass distraction", and if we allow it to proliferate in that sense, we're on a losing ticket. Consciousness can devolve and probably is devolving as we speak. As long as people spend more time seeking entertainment than looking within, we're using technology to our disadvantage. But it doesn't have to be that way if we show a little more awareness in our lives. Also I think that anything we can build in the outer world (such as technology) is only a weaker reflection of our inner potential. If we devoted more time to developing that, maybe we'd reach a point where we look at all those advanced gadgets and laugh that we ever needed such crutches when we can fly on our own...

(All art work used here are by Joumana Medlej)

# References & more:
* Official Website of Joumana Medlej
* Calligraphy of Joumana 
* Calligraphy with Sufic Themes

* Malaak: Angel of Peace / Graphic novel by Joumana Medlej (you can read it online)
* About Joumana via Malaak site
* Lebanese Comics: Malaak
* Malaak 4: Marked by Fire

* Interview: Joumana Medlej @ Marmalade Moon
* Interview: Joumana @ Lebrecord
* Artist of the Month: an interview with Joumana Medlej

* Publications by Joumana
* Encountering Samir Sayegh, Master Calligrapher
* Joumana Medlej's Page on Facebook
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Friday, May 18, 2012

New Book by Henry Bayman: The Teachings of a Perfect Master: An Islamic Saint for the Third Millennium

I came across Henry Bayman's writings through his third book, The Black Pearl. That was my introduction to Henry Bayman's writing who is a direct student of Master Ahmet Kayhan Dede, a remarkable Sufi Master and Saint. The Black Pearl was unlike any book I have read before, the subject matter and how it was encapsulated in that book was very unique. Even before finishing reading the book, I felt intuitively that I must have a copy of this book, so I photocopied the book in full and still have it.

The subtitle of this book read: "Spiritual Illumination in Sufism and East Asian Philosophies." At that time my serious interest on Sufism as a subject of study has just began and as I was living in Singapore, my exploration of East Asian spirituality and philosophies was on-going. So timing wise it was just too perfect when I discovered his book "The Black Pearl" at the library of National University of Singapore (NUS) circa 2005-2006. Title of the chapters (or sub-sections) of this great book can give an indication of its treasure, I'm quoting some selected ones here: Buddhahood and Prophethood, A Sufi's worship, From Nature to God, God in East Asian Culture, Nirvana in Brahman, None-self but One Self, Emptiness or GOD?, Confucius: The Exoteric Dimension etc. In short, this is a must read book for anyone interested in comparative spirituality, specially those who has appreciation for Buddhism, Zen, Tao and Confucianism. The book is a beautiful bridge of understanding between Sufism / Islam and the major Far Eastern traditions.

This is what Henry Bayman wrote in his introduction of the book:
I believe that Islamic Sufism has much in common with Buddhism, with Taoism, with Zen, and yes, even with Confucianism. At the same time, however, Sufism differs in various respects from each of these paths, to a degree that it becomes worthwhile to write a book about the subject.

At the center of the discussion is Absolute Reality: God, the Tao, Buddha-nature, the One (al-Ahad). Branching off from this are: exoteric Confucianism, which deals with morality; esoteric Taoism and Buddhism, and their combined form Zen, which deal with wisdom and mysticism; plus other traditions which are less widespread but nevertheless represent important aspects of Eastern thought.

The book description reads: "This sparkling book shows, as never before, how the highest metaphysical reaches of East Asian philosophies are scaled by contemplative Islam. Combining insightful analysis and personal reflection, Henry Bayman explores the mystical dimensions of Sufism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen and Confucianism. He delves into the striking parallels and seemingly irreconcilable differences in their conceptions of Absolute Reality: God, the Tao, Buddha-nature, the One. Bayman shows how each system of thought can illuminate the inner meaning of the others."

So that was Black Pearl, which came out in 2005. His two other title prior to the new one, are: The Station of No Station: Open Secrets of the Sufis (2001) and The Secret of Islam: Love and Law in the Religion of Ethics (2003), both of which if you have not read, you have missed one of the best modern writer on Islam and Sufism, at least in my humble opinion. Henry Bayman is a student of Sufism and an independent scholar who has lived in Turkey for many years, studying with the Masters of Wisdom of Central Anatolia.

New Book Out

Few weeks back it was a real delight to know that Henry Bayman has a new book out by the titled: "The Teachings of a Perfect Master: An Islamic Saint for the Third Millennium," published by Anqa Publishing.

In this Book the author has tried to faithfully record and convey all the teachings of his Sufi Teacher, Master Ahmet Kayhan, who was truly incomparable. May his light benefit the whole world, InshaAllah. The publisher's website mentions about this book as:

Here, for the very first time, we have at hand the entire curriculum of a Sufi saint. For more than a quarter of a century, Henry Bayman has been in close contact with the Sufi Masters of Central Anatolia. Most of that time was spent in the presence of the peerless Sufi teacher Mr. Ahmet Kayhan. Out of that association has emerged our closest glimpse yet of the famous (and hitherto mysterious) Oral Tradition of Sufism.

The author, combining the rigor of an anthropologist with the devotion of a disciple, has brought us a book that faithfully lays bare the entire range of teachings of the man who may come to be recognized as the Sufi Saint of the Age. It may well serve as the gold standard in Islamic and Sufi studies for years to come.

Extract from the Book

With permission from the Author, here is an extract from the new Book. I wish the author, Henry Bayman every success, may Allah bless his work and increase the honor of Master Ahmet Kayhan's soul in the Presence of the Supreme Beloved. May this book reach to the heart of those who come to read it, may its transmission be blessed by Allah, the Mercy Bestower, the Generous Giver. Ameen.

Vision of Miraaj / Digital Art by Sadiq Alam

~ Ascension ~

As everyone knows, each and every one of the prophets has ascended to God. We are not going to explain these Ascents here in detail, but rather will summarize them briefly. There has been no prophet without ritual Prayer, nor without Ascension (miʿraj). Many of them have ascended twice.

Adam had his first Ascension when his spirit was created by God. His second Ascent occurred at the mountain of Arafat together with our mother Eve.

Idris (Enoch), in accordance with the Quranic verse – ‘We raised him to a high place’ – ascended and did not come back. Noah, at the time of the Flood associated with his name, ascended while on the ship he made by God’s command.

Abraham ascended to heaven twice: First, when he was thrown into the fire, and second, at the moment when he was about to sacrifice his beloved son Ishmael. These two are very important points.

Jonah, at the time when he was swallowed by the whale, was inspired by God Almighty with the verse: ‘There is no god but You. Glory be to You, I have been of the wrongdoers’ [21:87]. By repeating this verse, he made his Ascension in the belly of the whale.

King Solomon, the son of David, told his father he would accept prophethood on two conditions. He said to him: ‘If God Almighty grants the prophethood on both physical and spiritual grounds, I will accept it.’ God was pleased with these words of Solomon, and his request was granted. This became his Ascension, because he wanted it that way.

As for Moses, he also performed two Ascensions. In his first ascent, right after his birth his mother placed him in a basket of bulrushes and set him adrift on the Nile. His second ascent occurred on Mount Sinai [Horeb].

Jesus also had two Ascensions. In the first one, the Virgin Mary was asked: ‘How did you get pregnant?’ Jesus answered from his mother’s womb: ‘My mother’s words are the truth, heed my mother.’ His second ascent happened during the Crucifixion (his ascension was spiritual). (note: According to Islamic belief, Jesus was not crucified, but was lifted bodily out of physical space. Someone else was crucified instead, most likely Judas for his betrayal. The Master is saying that in addition, Jesus ascended to God in spirit on this occasion.)

The Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad was superior to those of the other prophets. Crossing the Seven Heavens, he performed his Ascension starting from the seventh, conversed with God, and returned with the greatest good news to his community and all mankind.

Khidr, the Hidden Green Man / Collage  (not part of the Book)

~ Hidden Knowledge ~

Hidden Knowledge [ʿilm al-ladun: literally, ‘knowledge from Our side’ – esoteric or inner knowledge of things conferred by God], with the permission and order of God Almighty, fills the whole earth and the heavens. I, humble person that I am, cannot explain this here. However, we may be content to give a few ciphers.

Do all prophets possess Hidden Knowledge, or don’t they?

According to legend, after gathering his entire army, Alexander the Great, with a sign from the Esoteric, started looking for the Elixir of Life in order to achieve immortality. After a considerable amount of exploration, two soldiers set out from the camp one day to continue the search, with the understanding that they would return and report if they happened to find the Elixir.

Around noon they arrived at a river. In order to have lunch, they took out some dried fishes and proceeded to eat. When they threw the remaining skeleton of a fish into the river, an amazing thing happened. The skeleton regained life, took on flesh and appeared to them in the form of a living fish.

The one known as Khidr peeled a fish, ate its meat and, holding the skeleton from its tail, immersed it in the water. The fish immediately reconstituted, regained life and started squirming in his hand. To his friend, Elias [Elijah], he said: ‘We have found the Elixir.’ They drank from the water, and also watered their horses. Their human attributes disappeared, and sublime, divine attributes came over them.physical space. Someone else was crucified instead, most likely Judas for his betrayal. The Master is saying that in addition, Jesus ascended to God in spirit on this occasion.

This is the story. Now for the truth:
This water was a flowing water, a river. Whoever drank from this water should have become like Khidr and Elias. However, since their goal was the Elixir, only these two ascended, only they could ascend by this water.

The story goes on: The two friends returned to the army of Alexander the Great, but they did not tell Alexander about their discovery. Instead, they requested permission to leave the army and go back. Alexander did not grant their request, since he did not want his army to break ranks. In spite of their leader’s ban, however, Khidr and Elias left the army and started off. Alexander sent his army after them, and ordered their capture. However, during a close pursuit, both of them were suddenly lost from sight.

Did the earth swallow them up, or were they raised to the sky?

All the attempts of Alexander’s men to find them met with failure. So they went back, and reported to Alexander the Great. Alexander then said: ‘I overexerted myself and my army in order to achieve immortality, yet the Elixir fell to their lot. Mine was only a rebellion against the will of God.’

This brings us to Moses and Khidr [see the Quran, 18:60-82].

Moses, with the permission of God Almighty, attained a very high level in his knowledge of the Outward and Inward sciences. In spite of this, God declared: ‘Moses, you must learn Hidden Knowledge.’ Moses asked: ‘My Lord, is Hidden Knowledge beyond the Outward and Inward sciences you have given me?’ God answered: ‘O Moses, Hidden Knowledge is superior to all the other sciences. The time has now come for you to discover this. Go to the place where the two seas meet [to a designated pier on the banks of the Red Sea]. There, you will see a man of such-and-such a description. Tell him: “I have come to learn esoteric knowledge from you.”’

The man described by God was none other than Khidr. So Moses went and found Khidr, who answered to the description. After greeting him, he told him about the above order. Khidr said: ‘I was waiting for you here on God’s orders.’

They became companions, and soon boarded a ship. Although he was a great prophet, Moses was now taking orders from Khidr. While the ship was sailing on the high seas, Khidr at one point said: ‘Let’s go downstairs together.’ They went to the lowest deck of the ship. Khidr said to Moses: ‘Take this hammer and make a hole through the ship’s hull with this nail.’ Moses objected: ‘There are many people and animals on this ship.’ Khidr repeated: ‘Just be patient, make a hole.’

So Moses obeyed. Water started flowing into the ship. A short while later, they were invaded by pirates. But by this time, the water had already flooded the first deck. Upon seeing this, the pirates fled, among shouts: ‘The ship is sinking,’ and so saved themselves. On the other hand, the people on board had panicked. The captain of the ship was shouting orders: ‘What are you waiting for? Abandon ship!’ Just as they were about to do so, Moses and Khidr plugged the hole with a wooden peg. Water stopped flowing in, the water in the ship was bailed out and they all continued their voyage.

When Moses and Khidr got off the ship, they landed in another town. While they were disembarking, youngsters were playing ball just as they do today in a field adjacent to the port.

Khidr came face to face with a young man about eighteen years old. Khidr looked at him with a stern face, whereupon the young man attacked him. The friends of the young man tried to separate them from each other. Khidr struck the jugular vein on the young man’s neck, and he died immediately. Moses and Khidr escaped through the crowd in the ensuing commotion.

During evening hours they called on a town. No matter which door they knocked on, nobody would open. By then it was midnight. Moses, being human, was hungry and cold. Khidr, since he had drunk of the Elixir with the permission of God, was affected neither by hunger nor by cold.

Presently they came across a ruined wall, on the verge of falling down. Khidr said: ‘Let’s repair this wall.’
Moses: ‘What are you talking about? I’m cold and hungry. We’ve been driven from every door in this town. And now you want to repair this ruined wall!’

Khidr said: ‘Don’t argue with me, just help me do our work.’ Moses had no choice; he began to work. They repaired and restored the wall. But inwardly, Moses was getting very angry with Khidr. He made this apparent by saying: ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’

Khidr sighed, and answered him as follows: ‘Moses, you have been too impatient. You could not stand three events. Now, I am going to explain them to you.

‘We drilled a hole in the hull of the ship. You saw with your own eyes what happened next: pirates invaded the ship. They were going to rob the ship and kill us all. The ship owner’s money was honestly earned. I felt pity and saved them.

‘The young man I killed was the son of a prominent man. He was rebellious towards his parents. He also belittled the people of that town. If one day he were to rule there, he would have oppressed the people. We killed one man, and saved a hundred thousand from harm.

‘Consider now this wall. The man who built this house was a righteous man. He built this house with money earned honestly. He put the remaining money in a jug, and buried it near the wall we repaired. (Khidr pointed with his hand:) Right here, beneath this foundation.

‘The father and mother passed away, the uncle took custody of the children, and the house was ruined. The kids are still young. After they leave their uncle they will build a house on this lot, and this money will then be their share.’

Khidr continued: ‘I think you now understand the reasons for the things we did. But you were too impatient; our companionship is at an end. We must now depart.’

Khidr gave his hand to Moses, and they shook hands. Moses began to weep and wail: ‘If you leave me here now, where am I going to go? I don’t know my way back. Please don’t leave me.’ Khidr said: ‘Don’t worry. If you are wise, we will be together all the time. Give your hand to me and shut your eyes tight. Open them when I say so.’

Moses gave him his hand. Khidr said ‘close your eyes’ and ‘open them,’ in immediate succession. Moses looked around; he was in front of his house.

This, with the permission, grant and favor of God, is referred to as ‘the folding of space’ (tayy al-makan).


[+] You may read more from the extract from here (PDF) version.

[+] Table of Content of the Book here.

[+] To order the Book: via Amazon, via Publisher's site.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On Love, Devotion and Mercy

love devotion osho buddhist monk child

Devotion is the highest form of love.

It is possible you may love one person, and love becomes so deep that slowly slowly the very quality of love changes into devotion.

Then that person becomes only a
window for you to take a jump into

~ O.S.H.O via Osho quotes

The mystic Osho unveils an open secret of our existence. This is also the unveiled mystery of why every spiritual movement is centered around a single person. It has to be so because if you look closely you will see that towards that single person unconditional love and devotion came to manifest by those who met that person, came to know or simply sat in his or her presence. There is no exception to this. Whether religious history / religious scriptures record this or not, this has always been the case.

The love for the master becomes powerful devotion and then the master or the one who is loved with single pointed love, becomes a window or a portal to greater existence. Here existence can well be written with a capital "E", Existence: signifying the Real Existence, the Sole Existence of the One Who is without a second.

"By loving a person intensely and recognizing the Divinity you achieve a certain degree of Oneness... Existence is a manifestation of Divine Power."
~ Master Choa Kok Sui, Pranic Healing Master

Fall in love to rise in love

There is a Sufi story and short but powerful story. This is narrated by Maulana Jami.

A seeker went to ask a sage for guidance on the Sufi way.

The sage counseled: "If you have never trodden the path of love, go away and fall in love; then come back and see us."

What it signifies that unless we experience what is love by falling into it then we will not become receptive to certain higher teachings. Some teachings will never enter into our heart unless we're matured through love. This is so because just as love is beyond language and something of the domain of the Heart, similarly a lot of spiritual understanding are of the domain of heart alone and cannot be even begin to discussed unless someone is a wayfarer of love. And when that "falling in love" experience is gained, then the Mystics, the Guides of the Heart start to teach how to "rise in love." The who alchemy of the Sufi Path is "the art of rising in love."

Rising to One Love, to love the One Heart, the Comic Heart of the One Beloved. There is an open invitation to the Religion of Love, Love not with a sentimental meaning but as gnostic knowledge (ma‘rifa), and proximity between the Ever Present Divine and man within whom reflections of the Divine is manifest most strongly.


One Love, One Heart

One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right
Hear the children crying (One love)
Hear the children crying (One heart)
Sayin', "Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."
Sayin', "Let's get together and feel all right."

Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One love)
There is one question I'd really love to ask (One heart)
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?
Believe me

One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (One love)
So shall it be in the end (One heart)
Alright, "Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."
"Let's get together and feel all right."
One more thing

Let's get together to fight this Holy Armageddon (One love)
So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom (One song)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
There ain't no hiding place from the Father of Creation

Sayin', "One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right."
I'm pleading to mankind (One love)
Oh, Lord (One heart) Whoa.

"Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."
Let's get together and feel all right.

- "One Love," Bob Marley, from his album: Exodus
Lyrics Written By Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield

What is greater, mercy or love?

According to Osho's quote, devotion is the highest form of love. Love is such an unfathomable ocean that its mostly pointless to say what is highest, what is lowest, what is its true nature or form etc. To some devotion might feel the highest form and in another person's language and culture it might be that something else may feel to be the highest form of love.

Few weeks back I met a Sufi Teacher who was visiting Bangladesh from United Kingdom. During the conversation he was mentioning that mercy is greater than love. I requested him to explain.

He said surely mercy is greater than love but very few people understand this. In fact due to misunderstanding and abusing the word "love" for western mindset it is almost impossible to accept this truth.  Love by nature is discriminating. One person may love this person, that means the one whom he or she loves become exclusive to him or her and other person compared to the loved ones become lesser. Love by nature can not help but become single eyed. This is fine. Nothing to blame, the reality of love is willed by the creator to be such.

But mercy, which has other words for it, Buddhists will call it, "Loving Kindness", Muslims may call it "Rahmah", Christians may call it "grace" or mercy itself, a Hindu may call something else. But in essence, this is the quality which is most universal. So universal is Mercy that in Islamic Sacred Tradition God Himself calls this the Foremost Quality. It is said that upon the Mystical Throne of the Divine it is inscribed that, "My Mercy shall precede My Wrath." Also Mercy being the most universal quality of God, a human being becomes a true human being when mercy is found in abundance in him or her.

Now to give an example for mercy, the teacher said, lets say you are driving a car and suddenly on the road you find that a bird is lying on the road, wounded. It is by mercy that swells within the heart which causes someone to rush to the bird to save its life, the deep concern that flows for it well-being flows because of mercy. It is not that you loved this bird before or at that moment, but it is a different experience that one feels. It is so spontaneous that no one even think about it at that moment.

In Islamic sacred tradition the Messenger of God is said to be sent as a "mercy to all beings" (wa ma arsalanaka illa rahmatallil 'aalameen). And as a sign of mercy, the Messenger is described as "one who is deeply concerned for the well being of others, for the suffering of others." (harisun 'alikum)

If you think logically and observe how people works, you will notice that if anyone doesnt show care and concern for others, no matter what lip service they give, no matter how much they use the phrase "I love you" or "I love my countrymen" etc. that matters very little. It is a sure sign of care, mercy and love for another person, beings or even process when someone shows genuine concern for that person, beings or things. This is very natural. If you see lacking of concern and care for others, mostly selfless concern, then you know there is mercy and love in that person.

In our time what is most lacking in many human society across the world is the lost value of mercy, for one's self, for others, for the entire humanity. That is the root cause of unhappiness inside individuals as well as sufferings, conflict, war and killing across the world.

In a well written article titled "Love in Islam: Valentine's Day" by Suhaib Webb the author reminds:

Islam enjoins the general concept of love between mankind as well. This is first and foremost done by promoting the love of God amongst our fellow man. This is manifested through our practice of the concept of “rahmah” which can be translated as love, mercy, compassion or forgiveness.

The Prophet (s) told his companions as narrated authentically in al-Targheeb (3/210):

“You don’t truly believe until you have rahmah for others.” His companions responded, “We all have rahmah.” The Prophet (s) then told them, “Verily, you don’t reach this level of faith by just having rahmah for those who are close to you, but you must have rahmah for everyone.”

In Islamic teachings it is said that in order know who has love for the Messenger, one must see whether they have love for  the poor, the downtrodden, the neglected and marginal people. Same applies to Christ and any other True Human Beings. If someone claim to follow Christ, claim to follow Muhammad, a sure sign of that claim to be true is that the person who follow will have concern for the poor, the marginal, the downtrodden people. Its another kind of gold test that separate the sincere ones from the false pretenders.

May the Beloved bestow His tender Rahmah on us, help us manifest and practice it in every breath. By Allah, so be it. Ameen.

# References:
* On Love of Allah and the Prophet alayhi-s-salaam by Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee via Youtube
* On Rahmah (Mercy) via Youtube
* Evolution of Love
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