The Green One

AlKhidr

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. – Christian Scriptures, Hebrews 13:2

Today was a poignant day for my husband and me.  We were driving home from Greensboro to our little wide spot in the road near Hillsborough, and we stopped at the rest stop between the two.  We travel with our new puppy these days, a feisty little Westie, and so we made a pit stop for him.  As soon as we got out of our car, a young man came up to us and asked if he could speak to us.  Like most people, I suppose, we were leery, but we’re pretty sappy about trying to help people, so we listened while he told us how he accidentally got locked out of his car with his two dogs in it, had to call a locksmith, who overcharged him $150, and now, he said, he had no money to get home on and asked if we could we give him some.

May I say, here, that in this country where panhandling has become increasingly common and seems to be a fairly organized enterprise, our first reaction was suspicion.  I tend to be a bit resentful when people with pathetic signs about their misfortunes come up to my car at intersections to ask for money, and my first impulse was to be kind of irritated in this situation.  Increasingly, though, I find myself thinking, in such situations, “well, why not?”  Who am I to say whether a person’s need is legitimate, and what do I care if they want to spend my money on drugs or whatever?  At least they will know someone looked at them kindly and gave them what they wanted.

Now, like most people, we don’t tend to travel with much cash, so we explained to him that we didn’t have any money to give him, quite literally, and I said to him, “If you have a need, it will be taken care of.”

“Oh yes, yes,”  he said, “I’m a Christian, I know that.”  My cynical side was already thinking, “Nice touch:  he gets our sympathy by telling us he was traveling with his dogs who got locked in the car, and then he tells us he’s a Christian.  That always gets ’em.”  Meanwhile, an oriental man in the car next to us was hissing at us to ignore the young man:  “He’s a professional.”

“How do you know?”  I answered.  In any event, we headed for the restrooms prior to taking our pup out, and my husband commented that maybe he had a couple of dollars.  He looked in his wallet and sure enough, he had four whole dollars, so he headed back and gave them to the young man.  Why not?  He could, at best, only buy a bottle of Boone’s Farm with those few bucks.  He said the young man said to him, “At least you didn’t ignore me.  Most people have.”

I waited in the car while my husband took the puppy across the road to walk him, and I watched the young man busily walk up and down the path, steering clear of most people, occasionally entering the building, speaking to a few.  When my husband got back in the car, I had been thinking about it for awhile, and I said to my husband, “So where are these two dogs?  And can’t this guy call the police, or family members or friends and ask for help…or maybe the personnel at the rest stop could help him?”  We decided to play social worker, and my husband got out and asked him about all these things.  He reported that the man answered him in monosyllables, indicating that his dogs were “down there” (where?).  He said he lived alone, indicating that he had no friends or relatives to help him.  He answered all the other questions in monosyllables, and that was that.  My husband said he seemed irritated to be so questioned.

We went on home.

This young man, who said he was from Scranton (and sounded it) could have been an ax murderer, an escaped prisoner, an angel, a drug addict, an ordinary panhandler, or he could even have been completely honest about what was causing him to have this need for people to give him money.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know which it was, but I keep thinking of something that happened to me many years ago, when I was on a spiritual retreat in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

The first few days of a retreat are always excruciating for me:  I have a terrible time turning loose of the world, my body hurts, my mind races, I’m hungry, and all in all, I spend much time wondering why on earth I ever got myself into this mess.  As I persist in my spiritual practice, eventually there will come detachment, and a rising, a disengagement with my body and my environment and my involvement in life.  But it comes when it comes, and it takes brutally hard work, or at least it did in those days, when I was new to this meditative path.

So there I was, sitting on the side of the mountain, and it had rained and it was cold and damp and dreary and I was feeling sorry for myself and in despair of ever reaching the deeper stages of my retreat.  I have found, always, that it is only when I let go, when I “learn to love wandering in the dark,” as is common to that first stage of the inner alchemical process, the stage of nigredo, letting go . . . when I opened my eyes and in the pasture below me, a young boy was walking across the field with a gun over his shoulder, and he saw me up there and turned and gave a casual wave . . . and suddenly, I had liftoff, as the saying goes.  I moved into the higher reaches of the retreat, and I left the earth behind, like a balloon floating upward.

A casual event, one might say, but I eventually concluded that the young man in the pasture had either been an angel, Lord Krishna himself, or perhaps Khidr, the green one of eternal aliveness, angel or beyond the angelic, available to the sincere seeker and present at all initiation.  When one seeks the divine, I was taught, one is always guided by the masters, saints and prophets of all the ages, and one never knows who will come to aid in the sacred quest.  So I never entirely knew who that being was who strode across the pasture and turned to wave his magic wand over me as he passed, but I have my suspicions, and it really didn’t matter, because it worked.  Such experiences can never be understood deeply except by the one who experiences them, but if the story is told, it may aid another.

It is because of such visitations, which have come at various times in my life, that I wondered who was this young man who asked us for money at the rest stop today.  It really doesn’t matter, of course, but I’m rather glad that we gave him what we could.  Who knows?  Allahu A’laam.

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.

Goddesses Unaware

IMG_4105We succeeded in getting away to the beach for a few days this week, something that doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like, given our different schedules.  Here where we live in the Piedmont of  North Carolina, we are not actually very far from the ocean: three to five hours at most, depending on where one goes on this Graveyard of the Atlantic shoreline.  This time, given our lack of time, we went to Topsail Island, which bills itself, these days, as being on the Outer Banks, an inclusion I do not recall from the days when my family-of-origin went yearly to the “real” Outer Banks, where we had a cottage, one of those funky little flat-roofed-cinder-block-post-modern affairs that had no modern conveniences whatsoever, even for those times.  I loved it.  My family-of-origin was a perpetually stressed and miserable group of people, and those summers at the beach were my healing from each winter of cold rage and cabin fever in the mountain town where we lived.  My kinship with the ocean remains to this day, although it has become an internalized seascape that makes theses trips less necessary than before, a seascape that is far more perfect and creatively changeable than those landscapes I was exposed to throughout my life, the ones that began that internalization process.  I have tried to live on or near the sea most of my life:  our family has lived in such places as Cape Cod, Chesapeake Bay, and even on Lake Superior, which was a great lesson to me in terms of the archetypal “inland sea.”  We lived, for two years, in an Aleut fishing village on the Alaskan Peninsula, too, in a cove off the Pacific Ocean, and that, of course, was the most amazingly beautiful and stark landscape I have ever loved and been daily overwhelmed by.  Topsail Beach, with it’s overbuilt series of coastal towns and ticky-tacky houses built within such proximity to each other that residents could have little real privacy, with its mom-and-pop restauratns and dives, and its overall honky-tonk atmosphere, is a poor comparison; but my beloved ocean continues to resist all attempts to turn her into an offshoot of such desecrations of her shores, although those are sorrowful enough…  Yet even then, the winds and the sand, the weather that brooks no denial, and the constant change wrought by all these continues to hold a mystical pull on those who walk her beaches, whether they do so with a beer can in their hands, a surfboard or a pail and shovel, running shoes on their feet. . . or whether, as I did, they huddle in a beach chair wrapped up against the cold and intone sacred sounds that weave their way in and out of the howling winds and the constant pounding of the surf.  There is something about proximity to the sea that is an ongoing mystic pull toward the absolute loneliness of God.  Perhaps there is no difference.

One never knows which individual or what group will be drawn to the sea outside the usual vacationers, surfers, artists, fisher people and others.  This time, the day we arrived, we were charmed to see a group of what appeared to be conservative Mennonites, IMG_4091the little girls and boys and their mothers playing joyfully in the surf, while the men of the group stood around on the beach with their shoes still on, seeming to show little interest in that seascape of seascapes, perhaps discussing the manly things men usually discuss.  We lived in Amish and Mennonite environs at several points in our lives, and we were aware that these are a very private people who do not like to have their pictures taken and would be highly unlikely to put on bathing suits and actually get into the water, even if it were not still too cold to.  But the women and children, wearing their lovely, long cotten dresses with Peter Pan collars, their bonnet strings dangling, made a lovely work of art there in the  surf, leaning into the wind and the the inexorable crashing waves.  We couldn’t resist a few surreptitious pictures, and hope that we have not intruded too much on their privacy by putting them up here.  IMG_4087What an endless variety of life lives itself in the least expected places!  God is constantly writing in one book or another, and we were delighted with this particular one.

When it was time to find some lunch, we ended up at “Buddy’s, one of the most traditional of the aforementioned “mom-and-pops,” a beach bar on the dune, which affords the opportunity to eat in view of the roaring surf, and we were amused to be able to order Alaskan Pollack there on the Atlantic; nothing unusual, of course, and no doubt a lot cleaner than what I grew up on, on this side of the country.  Just below us on the dune, there was a memorial to a surfer who had lost his life in those treacherous waves.  The young woman who served us told us he had been well-known there for years.  The cross, IMG_4116draped with various memorabilia, reminded me of those leaning at intervals on the dunes of the Bering Sea where I used to go to work monthly up in Alaska: cross after cross in memory of those who had lost their life at sea.  We come and we go.

For most of my life, I have had a longing to be near the sea, and in these last years, I have taken it inside me and made it–her–live within.  I know her sounds, I know her rhythms, I no longer need to see her or hear her outwardly.  She is mine and I am hers.  Perhaps the end of all love-longing is this:  the beloved becomes too real to live outside the lover, and there is nothing the beloved can do that will cause the lover to flee…ever again.

The Beautiful Names

 

At the end of a crazy-moon night
the love of God rose.
I said, “It’s me, Lalla.”

The Beloved woke. We became That,
and the lake is crystal-clear.  –Lalla


They say there are as many different kinds of Sufis as there are Sufis, and I’m sure that’s true, given the nature of Sufism, which is such that it isn’t really a religion at all, but focuses its work on the inner meaning of all religion.  Yet there do seem to be a few central contemplative practices that are common to most if not all Sufis (and Buddhists and Hindus and well, the contemplatives of all the esoteric schools!).  The one I want to try to do justice to here today is the practice of wazifa, which most Westerners know as the term mantra, the repetition of a sacred name or phrase in order to develop the inner life and unfold particular sacred qualities inherent to the soul.  The wazifa works on many levels, not the least of which is its particular psychology, a psychology that strikes me more deeply as I research the Beautiful Names in Arabic, a language so beautiful that it is said to be the language that will be spoken in Heaven when and if we get there.  It does indeed have an extremely high vibratory quality to it, as does Sanskrit; and although I had originally been taught the Sanskrit mantras, when I became initiated as a Sufi and began to work with the Arabic wazaif (plural), I was hooked for eternity.  I’m not enough of a scholar to know which other languages have this vibratory quality, although I’ve seen hints of it in many languages, including Hebrew;  but these two seem to be the ones that work best for me.

The Sufi Order in which I am an initiate, and the various Inayati orders that are descendents of the ancient Chishtia school of Sufism, is both an interreligious organization and an esoteric school.  It is non-hierarchical in theory, but in actuality those who know more on various topics try to help those who know less, often changing places as necessary.  Many of us have a guide who works directly with the initiate on behalf of the teacher who is our link in the Silsila, the chain of illuminated beings who link with us and draw us back into pre-eternity, at the same time propelling us into post-eternity, whatever that is–through the promise we make to ourselves when we decide to come home to who we actually are.  But what does that mean in terms of the work we are doing in the world?  That looks like a very nitty-gritty process at the outset, but the more I hang out with this process, the more I see that it is all about the unfoldment of that promise, and what looks like a smelly, messy, cacophonous and chaotic world soul is also an exquisite symphony, a divine flower unfolding in the sun.  And it is the Beautiful Names that allow me to dwell in this understanding, to the extent that I Remember.  For a basic list of them, go here, to Wahiduddin’s wonderful site:  http://wahiduddin.net/words/99_pages/wazifa_practice.htm  There, you can find a list, and the basic meanings, as well as a great deal more information about Sufism, if you are interested.  Yet what I find is that these basic meanings are but springboards.  Pir Vilayat used to give these practices and teach his students how to make use of the sounds they invoke in the various spiritual centers that rise up the spine and connect the body with the higher realms of the psyche:  the solar plexus, the heart center, the crown center, etc.  He also used to suggest archetypes that embodied various of the Names:  Maryam, peace be upon her, for the divine purity (Subhan Allah), for instance, or the archangel Ophiel for Noor, the uncreated Light.  But those examples are kind of “out there,” and the wazaif can address very practical issues, too, such as the need for more power (Ya Malik,  Allahu Akbar) or the evocation of Beauty, Ya Jamil.  Of course, it must be said that to experience a quality such as beauty or power in its highest form is just that:  one must go beyond preconceptions into the true meaning of the quality, and thus the wazifa works in the psyche–soul–to reveal what is latent, and further, allows one to apply that quality to real life situations.  Magic!  If repeated with sincerity and diligence and openness.  Openness to the mystery, as Heidegger said. . .

I have been focusing on my inner work very intensely in recent months, and the more I “research” these Beautiful Names, the more I realize what a profound psychology they are for the unfolding personality and the progressing soul.  One might, through the advice and help of one’s guide, choose to work with not just one, but two wazaif, providing a point and counterpoint for the focus of what wants to unfold.  An example might be Ya (the “ya” simply means “O”) Muh’yi and Ya Mu’id, briefly defined as the divine Quickener and the divine Restorer.  The words are the springboards:  to evoke Muh’yi,  the Quickener, that aspect of God that brings things into being, makes things happen, is to go to the Source of the Water of Life.  To evoke Mu’id, the Restorer, is to return to one’s original condition, that of the divine Child, prior to the desecration the soul undergoes living on the earth plane.  Ya Rahman and Ya Rahim, the Compassionate One and the Merciful One, evoke both the divine kindness as well as the suffering God undergoes in taking on limitation in His creatures in order that the universe might unfold as it wants to.  These are but a few of what seem to be the true psychology of the soul.

Ultimately, the practice of wazifa ought to lead beyond the intent to find the quality in the personality to finding out how that quality as a condition of God manifests through the personality.  In other words, it is God–the central Self–that seeks to utilize the soul of humankind as a manifestation of divinity.  I wrote, awhile back, on another central practice of the Sufis, the dhikr.   The difference between the repetition of wazifa is that wazifa is how God is, while dhikr is the very being of God, beyond qualities.  Inayat Khan pointed out in his writings that the soul can be seen as the breath of God exhaled and inhaled, and I suppose the divine qualities–the Beautiful Names–are that exhalation, in the condition of Being.

We are not just a discreet entity but we carry the whole, the totality of the universe in us potentially.  –Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

To truly experience the divine qualities, one seems to need to undergo a sort of death, or so it seems at the time. . . yet like the Fool in the Tarot, we fix our eyes on the beyond and leap into the chasm and find. . . Life.

Up Against It

Making my way across the desert of understanding, I found, when I was so exhausted and dehydrated that I didn’t know if I could go on, a dry creek bed leading into the distance as far as my eye could see….  and I followed it, assuming it had to take me somewhere eventually.  At least it gave me some kind of direction to follow.

And it did.  Take me somewhere, that is.

One day, I came to its source:  a huge, craggy rock face that was so wide I couldn’t see its ends, and so high I couldn’t see its top, and it was planted firmly in the dry desert sand, and…

There it was.

As to the creek bed, it was here that I found, in a small crack at the base of the rock face, the merest trickle of water oozing into the creek bed, drying up in the hot dry sun before it could get very far, because there wasn’t much of it, and the dry sand soaked it up immediately.

I vowed to stay there and whenever I could, I moistened my eyes, my face, my hands with that tiny trickle of water, and it kept me alive while I waited.

I’m still there, waiting.  Really, there isn’t much else to do.

Practicing

“We need to do practices with knowledge and awareness.” Amma also explained how
the Ma-Om meditation was discovered. When she was small, she used to walk on
the beach. The ebb and tide of the waves sounded like Ma and Om to Amma. Ma-Om
became like the breath, continuous and automatic. Thus, every step on the beach
was meditation.

Indicating that there is no point in changing the type of practices, Amma
pointed out how impatient we are. “People are so impatient. They jump into
sudden conclusions. A bird was sitting in a harbor and wanted to go to the other
side. It saw a ship and thinking that the ship will take it to the other side of
the harbor, flew to the mast and perched on it. The ship started on its course
and in some time was far out in the sea. As time passed, the bird got impatient
and started flying in the north hoping to reach land. After a time it got tired
and flew back. Later it tried flying south. It had to come back, it was getting
exhausted. The bird then tried east and west and seeing no land had to return
back to the ship each time. Only when the ship neared the other harbor, could
the bird see land, and shortly thereafter they reached the shore. If the bird
had been patient, it would have anyways reached the land with the ship without
flying hither and thither.

Amma concluded by explaining, “Likewise, true happiness is already within us. Be
steadfast in your practice. Practice regularly. When the awareness grows, we
will merge into that reality, that happiness within us.”

from http://www.amritapuri.org/8287/mantra-maom.aum

Recently, I was talking with a friend who, like me, has practiced meditation for many years.  We agreed that there is a point at which one begins to feel rather as if one has “gotten it,” and feels less of an imperative to practice “religiously,” keeping to a rigorous schedule and lengthy practices.  It is also true that, over time, we tend to find, more and more, the “guru within,” and we become gradually competent to fly “solo.”  In other words, we become our own teachers, and we feel–just a little–as if we are starting to know what we’re doing.  Let me hasten to add, here, that if the above isn’t really true, if one is being beguiled by the ego and not anywhere near this point, these feelings can be a trap.  This is but one of many reasons I continue to believe it is necessary to have an earthly teacher or guide, someone to hold up the mirror of truth that the sincere seeker needs to consult regularly.  And it can be a trap anyway, as my friend pointed out.  He said that if left to his own devices, he does indeed continue to practice, but that he gradually lets other things get in the way, and eventually finds himself getting in a good meditation session maybe twice a week.  He pointed out that it’s like living on interest, rather than increasing one’s capital.  Something like that.  I think he is quite right, and have found this for myself, because rebel that I am, I actually took a “sabbatical” of some ten years, from my spiritual community and my roles as both student and guide.  In theory, I didn’t include practice in my “sabbatical,” but I did indeed begin to slack off, and eventually found myself in pretty bad shape, because life will teach us when we don’t avail ourselves of an easier, gentler way, which to me is contemplative practice.  As Matthew 11 in the Holy Bible says,

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

My old friend Himayat Inayati used to say that Jesus meant that his “burden” is, literally, LIGHT.  Yes, indeed.  But I have had problems with faith throughout my life, which is common to children of hurt parents, and I tried to go it alone.  I was fortunate in that I had already been taken pretty far up the ladder, but there was still that hurt inner child that was afraid of the surrender necessary to go all the way.  And I suffered for it.  My life’s teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, said that there is a fundamental choice that must be made by people like me:  I can either be pushed by the past or pulled by the future.  Ah, but how to get away from that eternal SHOVE and live into the lovely, thrilling, gentle tug that takes us on into the eternal?  It wasn’t easy for me, even though I already did have some capital in the bank.

Becoming very ill and disabled was a result, for me, of that ongoing push from the past, and it pushed me right up against….me.  There was nowhere else to go.

For several months now, I have been studying the teachings of Inayat Khan weekly with a good friend, via Skype, and that has been a new beginning for me.  It is really the Sufi practice of losing the false self first in the teacher, then in the Master, and eventually in God.  Through these progressive attunements, one makes oneself open to the teaching and then, to the very being of the One it all comes from.  A Light burden indeed!  And doing this led me to a re-commitment to practice, and I began giving myself over to practice at least twice a day, going right back to the beginning when it was like doing calisthenics for the beginner:  at first, you have to do them “just right,” and if you eventually trip up by not doing so, you have to go back and pick up where you left off.

It worked.  The Sufis have a profound psychological and spiritual practice as outlined in the 99  Beautiful Names of God, in the Dhikr that is the remembrance of the way God (we) really is/are.  There are various other practices with breath and light and sound, but these are the two central practices, and they work.

No, I have not levitated–yet.

Yet there are glimmers, in my own personal process of alchemy, that as I gradually give up my attachment to my temporal self, the one that jumpa up and down and clamors for this and that and feels oh, so hurt over this, and Grrrr!  So Angry!!! over that, that this push from behind that I spoke of lessens, and I can slide gently onward into the pull that awaits.

The spiritual path is easiest if there is not something pulling one from behind; and that force is the life in the world, one’s friends, surroundings, acquaintances, and one’s foes. Remain, therefore, in the world as a traveler making a station on his way. Do all the good you can to serve and succor humanity, but escape attachment. By this in no way will you prove to be loveless. On the contrary, it is attachment which divides love, and love raised above attachment is like a rain from above nourishing all the plants upon the earth.  ~~Inayat Khan

I sustained a great blow recently.  I realized that I had to end my relationship with someone I love very much (and her child, therefore), but who has problems with living and had long been in the habit of targeting me with her pain and sorrow over herself.  In a mistaken belief that I was somehow responsible for allowing this kind of treatment from this person, I had allowed myself to become so debilitated by her rage and misery that I was becoming more and more ill.  I had tried, for many years, to realize this–had known it all along:  that I was not helping her, nor was I helping myself in allowing myself to be scapegoated in this way, and I resolved–for about the 100th time–to end the relationship, at least in terms of our physical association.  It seems to me that there are times when this is necessary in the closest of relationships, for both parties, but it was extremely painful for me.  I thought I would die from the pain, in fact.

Pir Vilayat once said to a group of his students that if we really knew what love is–truly is–we would be annihilated in our understanding.  I think life offers us the opportunity to learn about love, even to these heights, if we desire to.  As my Murshid says above, “love raised above attachment is like a rain from above nourishing all the plants upon the earth.”  It seems that there are times when to love in this way means giving up one’s personal needs for affiliation, for closeness, for friendship…and the result is that at least one more roadblock in the path of love is removed.

So:  practice.  Practice deeply, ceaselessly, with devotion and without ambition.  It doesn’t matter what the practice is, what matters is to develop the soul-power, to grow the soul along with the body and the mind.  The rest follows.