One of the mysteries of zikr is that it seems to take place in another country which is not known to me in my ordinary state.
In my everyday life, I know where I am. I have a physical and psychological orientation, a map of my personal territory, which is as fixed as a street address. My movements take place around a few locations. I am placed within my tasks, my obligations. My life is a construction of things learned, past events, failures and successes, relationships won and lost. A thousand associations and habits keep me in my place.
There are things that I do and things I do not or cannot do. The culture says I can be or do whatever I want if I follow my dream. This is foolish. Clearly I have limits in my life and whether they are self-imposed or imposed by others, many of these limits are real and true. A street address says not only where you are but also where you are not. I learn that there are places that are not for me.
Work on self begins to peel away the layers of this onion, separating true from false. Impartial observation begins to whittle away at the reactions, judgments and justifications which maintain my location. Inwardly, I gain degrees of freedom from self. The world becomes larger. I find that there is an ‘I’ that is not constructed, not limited by a local fixed address and this ‘I’ explains the best of my doings.
Work on self is not self-improvement but rather deconstruction, from the outside in. That is one direction for change. It is slow but certain.
Zikr is in another direction. Its location is not in my ordinary world and I can’t get there when I am myself.
Can I simply step outside of myself? This may seem illogical. For it to be true, I must magically be that ‘I’ which is not part of the construction, temporarily leaving it behind. How is this possible?
The present is a crack in the cosmic egg. Without past and future, now being all the time there is, my presence is called to be, replacing my identities. ‘I’ enter. Can I can enter the present so fully that I no longer have a fixed address? This is what zikr is. This transition is made possible by several factors. First, it is most helpful to have a special space that is removed from my ordinary life, a chamber oriented by repeated use to have access to another country. These spaces are in part made by our efforts but it is also true that they are first found to exist because they are aligned to factors outside of the ordinary world.
Second, it is most useful to have the collected attention of a number of participants. This creates an attractive consort for the forces that can assist the zikr and attract them.
Third, I must be willing to surrender myself and cease to be the center, the active agent.
Finally, I must ask for the transition. This is invocation which is, along with attention, a great and inexplicable mystery.
These factors attract help of another kind. I am drawn into contact with another reality.
Last night, entering the zikr chamber, sitting together, watching the breath, a subtle presence entered.
It is sometimes possible to re-cognize the nature of a guest, to know it as one knows something of oneself. I cannot re-cognize a stranger, only someone known to me.
The one who has entered is the Friend. Who is the Friend? The Friend is that one who is more me than I am. A friend is remembered. This Friend is remembered. His signature is always there in me even though I constantly forget.
Can I open myself to my Friend without reservation, allowing Him to search every corner of myself, to see every bit of deceit and arrogance? This exposure is a whole sensing of who I am without Him. It is a great relief to admit this search, to allow my secrets to be seen. It brings us closer.
Zikr is in the heart tonight. It aches with pleasure.