Light Being

Rays of sunshine breaks through the dark clouds. Ñoncept of hope for the best, mood changes, enthusiasm, optimism, faith in our own strength, the breakthrough goal

I remember those mornings at dawn with you…

“Shield your eyes for safety, and gaze into the light,

And in that instant recollect ourselves as Beings of Light.”

It worked, that instant shock of recognition, that simplicity of knowing…and then

beyond knowing to Being

How did this happen?  How did I forget…and why?

Light streams through all the cells, molecules, ignites atoms…

This body becomes radiant, this mind clear, but it’s more than that.

No need, no need, no need.

Just light.

It is just to remember, and one day,

Never to forget again.

My Father

When Father’s and Mother’s Days roll around and everyone posts love stories about their parents, I always feel kind of lonely.  I also feel as if I–or someone–ought to figure out how to write the perfect post about being the damaged child of damaged parents.  My parents were the narcissistic and, in my mother’s case, alcoholic offspring of other screwed up people who had their own issues.  I’m sure my mother and her siblings were abused, possibly sexually, and my father lived a lonely, orphaned life until he was 16 years of age, when he got on his bike–this was during the Great Depression–and went off to seek his fortune.  He was an angry man.  And my mother was an angry woman.  Both had good reason to be, but it’s not okay to beat up and neglect your kids because you yourself are frustrated.  However, it was a generation of postwar parents who assumed ownership of their children, and believed the best way to control them was through rage and, often, physical violence.

I am sure that many people reading this are nodding their heads knowingly, but in my case there is a difference that not everyone will relate to, because I have seen time and time again that children who are abused by their parents continue to love them despite everything.

I am not one of them.  I cannot deny that when each of them, in the near past, died, I was relieved.  I grieved, but I realized that I was grieving for the parent I never had, more than for an actual person.  I am aware that, as human beings, we are supposed to forgive those who do us harm, but I never did.  As time goes on, I understand more and more, but I cannot honestly say I have forgiven.  Over time, my anger has dissipated, and I take increasing responsibility for my own part in the conflicts I had with them, but I would still not want to live with either of them again.

Love all, trust none; forgive all, forget none; respect all, worship none. That is the manner of the wise. – Inayat Khan

The thing about being raised by someone you cannot trust is that when you grow up, you tend not to trust most authority figures.  This brief post is about the father I eventually found, my Sufi teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan.  I loved him dearly throughout my life and will until my own death and thereafter.   However, it took me many years to know him as my father and to trust him as I had never trusted my father-of-origin.  The following is a brief story I am reminded of on this particular holiday:

n775913108_2766090_210832

Once upon a time, when I was still in my early twenties, he asked me to come to the (then) New York khanqah (this is the Arabic name for a spiritual commune, so to speak) to have a talk. He ended up giving me Holy Hell over something that was going on in our center, and being a spiritual infant at that time, my ego rebelled, and I felt unfairly blamed.  It took me a long time to get over my resentment of what he said, and he did not give me “equal time” to defend my own point of view.  I remember him saying “I have to try to be your Father and help you to do what’s right.” Without going into what he asked of me, let me just say that it of a political nature and was quite a lot, on that occasion.  Looking back, I realize that to take on the role of spiritual father was a tall order for him, especially given the Father who had raised him (Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan).

I was not able to appreciate his comment about his obligation to be my spiritual father, although I do remember feeling a vague sense of comfort, even as I felt anger with him; but as the years went by, I realized that he really did mean exactly what he said, and even though I was only one of thousands of students, he was always there for me, whether in a dream, in a letter or in person. Eventually, I learned to accept what he had to offer on the terms he chose, and I am all the better for it. He was always looking up, and he never gave up.  Now he waits for all his children in the planes of Light.

Thank you, my Father.  It is a great joy to be able to write you a love letter on this day.

The 100th Wedding Anniversary

Wedding

This year is the 100th wedding anniversary of Pir Vilayat, my life’s teacher.  I use the term “wedding anniversary” in the sense that the death of a teacher is not a death–not for any of us–but a return to the arms of the Beloved, traditionally called God.  Likewise, it is a birth.  I am combining his earthly birthday and his Urs here, because it seems to me that both are a wedding and an initiation.   Traditionally, however, the Urs is the anniversary of the death of a saint, while the birthday is, well…the anniversary of her or his death.  The picture above is of the earthly wedding–celebrated in the heavens and earth–of my husband and I, when Pir Vilayat officiated at that joyful occasion.  I was fortunate in having a dear friend, Greg Blann (find his wonderful paintings with a Google search), take photos unbeknownst to us,  and so it is not perfect, but the four pictures he took mean a great deal to us.  To understand a true wedding one must look behind the outer forms.

Pir Vilayat would have been 100 this year, and he “died” in 2004, 12 years ago.  It amazes me that he has theoretically been gone from this planet for this many years, because to me he is as present as he ever was.  He is, indeed, there whenever I need him, just as he was in this phase of life.  He always came when he was called, whether in a dream or a letter or an actual visit, and he never failed, if one was paying attention.

People who have not experienced being the student of an authentic spiritual teacher don’t quite understand why such events mean so much to those who were, and they need not:  it is not for everyone to come home in this way.  We are all finding our way to return from whence we come, and it matters not how we get there.  Yet for me, and for many like me, he was our best friend, our teacher, the one who went before us and yet stayed with us.  The below is his “final” message:

A Final Message
to his Mureeds
from

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

Pir Vilayat’s final message was given in Suresnes, France, on January 27, 2004, six months before his death. It was published in Heart and Wings, a publication of the Sufi Order International Secretariat, New Lebanon, New York.

I must say, it has been such a joy to share with you the encounter of our thoughts sparking each other. The mission— the meaning of the Message of the future, all of it has been exciting and overwhelming, and I am very grateful for your sharing with me. From the moment that one has broken bread at the same table, one is linked by a special link, and that’s the reason for the Mass. The Mass is the ritual of eating at the same table together, and we have been sharing this wonderful bread and wine at the same table, and that establishes a link between us that can never be broken, so that we can always find each other. So, I will just say that you can find yourself— you can find me in your heart; and I can say, I can find you in my heart. God bless you. – Khan, Pir Vilayat Inayat (2011-11-01). Life is a Pilgrimage . Omega Publications, Inc.

Traditionally, one has the ability to receive a boon from the teacher on such an occasion.  I asked for and received one as always, and I cannot put it into words, which itself is appropriate, because Pir, as we called him, was always full of surprises.  One never knew from one moment to the next what was coming, whether an inner or outer experience of growth.  And any growth, however painful–perhaps the one that is especially painful–is useful to the sincere seeker, so I look forward to the gift he has given me this time, and I celebrate his wedding with joy and tears and a renewed sense of commitment.  All blessings to you in this world of contrasts.

Image-17CDBF24470E11D8_2

(Another personal picture taken of me at age 24 or so, in his summer camp at Chamonix-Mt. Blanc, in the French Alps.  It is the perfect picture of the disciple at the feet of the Master, and in reality he was chewing me out for my stupidity, in his own fatherly, sometimes stern way.)

The Light that is seen in the Port

Blessed is she who sees the star of her soul as the light that is seen in the port from the sea. – Inayat Khan

This ship speeds over the darkling watersl51371

with the moon shining down, a glimmering path of light highlighting the waves that

slap against its sides . . .

In the distance is the stony island where the ancient tower with its beams of light shining through the turret openings on the highest level, flickering across the stone walls:  the lighthouse where You wait for me to come home finally, once and for all.

And You will never say No.

Shall we dance?