Urs of the Pir


Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan on Death

“In the perspective of the Esoteric school, the concept is fana. In order for there to be a change one has to accept a breakdown and trust that there will be a breakthrough. That is the principle of alchemy. As long as one holds on to one’s self-image, one cannot undergo this breakdown. This is where faith is called upon: faith in the ability of nature to reorganize itself.Of course death is the ultimate breakdown, the ultimate fana, and just like in our lifetime, we trust that it is followed by a breakthrough. If it is not, we remain the same, and that is not a nice condition. You see, we go through crises unless we catalyze the breakdown. There are moments we go through a crisis in our life but at the psychological level it could be the dark night of the mind – that is, everything we thought breaks down. We don’t know what is true, only what is not true. But the deeper night is a breakdown of our self-image, and that is part of the esoteric work. When one has experienced baqa – that is, the reinstatement of our being then – we are not afraid of a breakdown. In fact it is a wonderful joy to be free from our own self-image, because it is limiting… You see, one does not want to continue to be what one was. Then you are not afraid of death.”

More Pir Vilayat quotes from the Alps Leaders Camp, 2002:

“Don’t ask where a person is after death. There is no where.”

“There is some indication that life doesn’t stop at the moment of the big jump (death). It’s never to early to pray – to get ready.”

“Our thoughts configure our aura and our aura configures our body.”

In Islamic tradition, the anniversary of the death of the teacher–the Urs–is a very important and solemn occasion. Many of my spiritual colleagues and I have also found it to be a time of great blessing, with a special opportunity to access the teacher, to be “tuned” and taught by him, to feel his presence deeply. June 17 is the Urs of Pir Vilayat, who theoretically died just a few years back. The delight, for me, in all this has been that I’ve felt him to be far closer, opposed to farther away, since he died. It is as if he simply moved into another office! I get the sense that it’s a lot easier to get things done “there,” and my communications with him are much clearer and closer. My more immediate guide once commented to me “I am as near as the distance you choose to impose between us,” and that is true: it is my own feelings about myself that puts distance between my teachers–all teachers–and I. Moineddin once said to me, “God only remembers our sins if we do.” And it is true. S/He/It is far more faithful to me than I am.

So I allowed this particular Urs to creep up on me, because last week was a “down” week, and in my usual fashion, I was blaming myself for what may be more cosmic than one realizes, and when I read the post below, I was, as the author said, blown away. There would be celebrations all over the world, but we were traveling, to my daughter’s college orientation, and I did not join any of them.

Greetings on this Urs of Pir Vilayat (Australia is a day ahead of North America).

Yesterday at our monthly Gatha class we celebrated Pir’s Urs. We were joined by a magnificent falcon, who arrived outside the window when one of the mureeds began reading from “Awakening” and perched in a nearby tree. The bird stayed through most of the subsequent zikr, then flew off across the valley.

We were in awe! I led the group spontaneously chanting “Baz gasht” as we did a slow Dervish walk around the room. Baz gasht means something like “Return to the Source” with the sense that every conscious step is part of this journey of return. Pir Zia has pointed out a wonderful play on words, as “baz” also means “falcon” – so one can see this return as the bird flying home to the wrist of the king. Do you remember that photo of Pir Vilayat with a splendid raptor perched on his arm? Do you remember the expression on his face?

Peace to you as the blessings of the Urs arrive in your part of the world.

Pir Vilayat often looked exactly like one of these birds, when he bestowed his “piercing glance,” and it came over me again in the time he spent with me after that. I find that he is very enthusiastic in his encouragement these days, and knew him to be saying to me, “Don’t give up!” It’s nearer than you think!”

It was in a mountainous area we were traveling, and I will always associate him with the mountains, where he led us on so many alchemical retreats, so I went as high as I could to meet him and he blessed me, and spent a little time with me, and I was so grateful and so in awe of how many of these little meetings he must have managed to have. And to think, to a great extent, we control his schedule!

“You have in your keeping the soul of everyone you’ve ever smiled at.” –Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan