Existential Dhikr

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A person can call themselves a Sufi and live their lives in the context of the essential message of Sufism, that of love, harmony and beauty in the unity of all religions.  No requirements at all save living as well as one can.

Or one can become a Sufi in the interest of becoming self-realized,  thus taking initiation in what is called the “esoteric school” of this particular Sufi Order (there are numerous others).  If one chooses this latter option, then this process of self-realization becomes one of not just learning to see God, but realizing oneself to be the divine glance, the very expression of Divinity, as the Sufis say.  The practice that is most basic to this process, after exploring the attributes of divinity, is that of dhikr (a phonetic spelling).  There are many forms of the dhikr, slow and fast, inner and outer, moving and still, silent and vocal, group and individual….and all take the form of the phrase “La illaha il’llah Hu.”

“There is no God but God” is an exoteric definition of this phrase.

“There are no beings, just the one Being” is an esoteric understanding of what dhikr means.

I have been working recently with that is called the “Slow Dhikr,” sometimes the “Positive Dhikr,” or even “The Dhikr of the Broken Heart.”  You see, there is a negative dhikr and a positive dhikr:  a negative dhikr negates all that one thought oneself to be and affirms what Is.  A positive dhikr begins and ends from the standpoint of what Is.  Does this make sense?  Perhaps not, because dhikr can’t be understood intellectually, it has to make itself known emerging from within and back into itself.

Here is what is coming through in my “Existential Dhikr:”

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“La illa ha” . . . There is a Unity with no end and no beginning, self-observing and ever-becoming, and its reality can be known not by contemplation, but by becoming that Unity. The stars and planets of all the universes circle around their evolving understanding of themselves, musing about this experiment they are becoming.  There is no self, there is only Self.  Lord Buddha wanders into the Wilderness and discovers….vastness.  Thought becomes Mind.

“Il” . . . A Great Decision becomes made and  Unity falls into Being, into Multiplicity, out of the great cry of love that its evolution perpetuates.  It is a terrible and a magnificent moment, as whatever God is takes on a limited form in order to become Itself.  To a Christian, this stage of God’s becoming might be seen as the birth of the Christ.

“‘la (Allah:  yes and no, being and nonbeing, Crazy Love)” . . .  A great Individuality arises, like a tree rising from its roots or a flower blooming . . . a mountain grows toward the Sun, taking its roots with it.  All waters flow toward the Sea.  The human Being grows upward into its potential.  The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says, in a Hadith, that to become human is to surpass in realization even the angels, for the angels are lost in contemplation of God, while the human has the potential to realize God, or primal Being.

“Hu.”  Often the culminating moment of “Hu” is said into the vastness, but here it is being said into the heart, the sacred, ultimate syllable that evokes what is left after all that becomes, a moment of divine resignation, an acceptance of the agony of limitation when limitation sees what it really is.  As Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan remarked, “transciency is eternalized through resurrection.”

Hu.  It transforms thinking, genetic expression, physical and mental processes, perspective and will.

Hu.  The war is won and begun again and again everlasting.

Angels Aware

We have been inviting Hummingbirds into our garden since last summer.  I don’t know why we never thought of it before, possibly because we were too busy doing things we thought were more important than to entertain these dear little creatures . . .  Well, enough of that.  Ruby-throatedHummingbird_BariDuBois copy

Last summer we had, maybe, half a dozen.  This Spring, we eagerly awaited their return and when we hung out the nectar feeder, exactly one little hummer showed up and hung around for a week or so before his friends arrived.  He seemed lonely, but we didn’t know what to do about it.  Perhaps he flew even faster than his friends.

SitaI noticed, last summer, that the hummers seemed to enjoy it when I would meditate on the back porch, where the feeder was hanging:  occasionally I would open my eyes to find one of them right in my face, curiously checking out my mantra.   They don’t seem to be a bit afraid of humans or other birds.  Our cat does not seem to intimidate them, but then Sita is old, and probably doesn’t intimidate many other creatures.

Today, when I sat to meditate, I had a hard time staying focused, because we had 4-6 of the little creatures (they move so fast it’s hard to tell how many there actually are).  I have alw

ays had a feeling that they fly back and forth between the worlds,  that they are really half-angelic.  I know they enjoy the sound of ‘Hu’ most of all, which indicates that they are the Messengers of the Divine Presence.  It would seem that I am not alone in this perception:

There is a belief that Hummingbirds,  in some way, are messengers between worlds.  As such, they help shamans keep nature and spirit in balance.  The Cochti have a story about ancient people who lost faith in the Great Mother.  In anger,  she deprived them of rain for four years.  The people noticed that the only creature who thrived during this drought was the Hummingbird.   When they studied his habits, the shamans learned that the Hummingbird had a secret passageway to the underworld.   Periodically,  he went there to gather honey.   Further study revealed that this doorway was open to the Hummingbird alone because s/he had never lost faith in the Great Mother.   This information inspired the people to regain faith.  After that the Great Mother took care of them.  

(http://hummingbirdworld.com/h/native_american.htm)

 

Returning into God

Paradiso: Canto 31
from Gustave Doré's illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy

Nirvana is as a star in our hearts which we develop; and as we develop it, it becomes brilliant.

Its brilliance consumes all the wrong of life until nothing is left but that purity which is the divine light.  — Inayat Khan

Here in the Piedmont of North Carolina, I am beginning to wonder if winter is ever going to begin.  Just a few days until Christmas, and the temperatures are still sometimes in the seventies every day.  This afternoon a heavy, chill rain began, and I sat on the porch in my rocking chair to practice.  No need for music today!  The rain pounding on the roof, clattering in the gutters and dripping endlessly into the dirt under the bushes says all that needs to be said.

I suppose some would call it magical thinking, but I see that the Spirit of Guidance finds all kinds of ways to answer my questions and concerns.  Last weekend, we were in a bookshop in Chapel Hill, a used bookshop, and I found one of Ram Dass’s books, STILL HERE.  I remember when he was the rock star of the New Age movement, back in the 60s and 70s, and I consider him to be one of my best friends, even though we’ve only met a few times, and then wordlessly.  He always seemed to play the role of, as he himself said, “the one who goes before.”  In recent years, he is evidently going before us into the aging process, and he kicked that off with a severe stroke that hastened things quite a bit.  It is heartening to see him still doing his work, making use of the Internet now that he can no longer travel (www.ramdass.org).  The crowds are definitely smaller these days, even online, and I feel rather sad about that, but he has done good work, and perhaps, as he says in his book, an increasing withdrawal and loneliness is part of the process of returning the soul to God.  As to the book, it is very wonderful, just what I needed, for since my health issues began a few years ago, I have been rather lost, still determined to do things as I once did, constantly asking “What’s next?  What should I do?” and beating myself up for my increasing need for solitude and quiet, instead of relaxing into them as a natural part of the growth process.  In this last year, when I have surrendered to my need for retreat, I have continued to ask myself “When will this be over?  When will I return?” and now I’m thinking. . .  “What if I don’t?”  “Do I have to?”  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  But I think what life is calling for me and other elders to do, is to live into a new mode of being, one that is actually intrinsic to the balance this old world so badly needs, with the so-often ego-based rush-rush of the younger generations, the constant need to do, to acquire, to accomplish, to kill, to have, to. . . well, to not get caught in the solitude of reality.  I suppose it is all about fear, really.  We are all deers afraid to get caught in the headlights of what is, afraid to relinquish control, afraid of annihilation.  That last, I find (annihilation), is increasingly the only thing that makes sense to me.  One comes to feel (if one is fortunate, I think) that death is the goal and the healing, that death not of the body–although obviously that will come–but of one’s concepts, one’s ambitions, one’s ideas about reality, ultimately one’s sense of oneself as a separate entity. . .  Really, that’s what all this mystical stuff is about, but the ego–the temporal self–screams in fear at the very idea.  It has taken me many years and much desperation to subdue the screaming of my own nafs, the Arabic word for the ego, the self we all think we are, the dimensions of which we try to keep hidden, even as it runs the show with an iron hand, until. . .we decide to stop it (mine is still subject to frequent yelps, by the way).  I find that this process has taken more than a decision, and God knows it took me long enough to even get to the decision, but once made, one can begin the best journey of all in life.  My road looks like a lonely one at first glance, but I find that increasingly I am joined by all the holy women and men I called to my journey, and the scenery is increasingly beautiful.  Ah, but that nafs!  Oh well, I suppose we need the nafs as long as we need it.

As some ancient Sufi said, the journey to God is a finite one.  The journey in God is never ends.