• March 5, 2024

    Can you accept that no one thing is more important than another? From the world’s point of view, there is a hierarchy of values. From the point of view of spiritual work, one thing is as good as another.

    We make judgments that some of the things we think and do are objectively important. But we have no idea what the universe, which is a living organism, actually needs from us.

    Begin at the beginning. You are here, in this place and time, with certain relationships, habits and talents. Your life has probably not unfolded anything like what you wanted or imagined for yourself.

    For certain, where you are is exactly where you need to be for your own evolution. What you have accumulated is precisely what you need for work on self. How can it be otherwise? This is the minor miracle.

    There is another point of view. The universe has established you to meet certain of its needs. This is the greater miracle. What does the universe need from you as you are, where you are? Find out so that you can provide it voluntarily. Then you will get the help you need. How do you find out? Observe what your life asks of you.

    Every day, the universe presents you with certain demands. If you accept them as obligations to be met to the best of your ability, you will receive the necessities to perform them. And more will be given unto you. This is evolution by reflex. Not by way of ambition but by way of responsiveness.

    Tags: , ,

  • February 26, 2024

    The spiritual path leads nowhere if you do not walk it with humility.

    You must see your ambition, see your self-importance, and welcome life as it throttles them out of you.

    Ahmed Rifai was on the Hajj. At night he had a dream, that he had arrived at the Kaaba and that it was surrounded by a wall with gates. Over the first gate was the word LOVE. This gate was crowded and he could not enter. Around the side was another gate. Over it was the word PEACE. It too was crowded and he could not enter. Around the corner was another gate. There was no one there and Ahmed entered. Above this gate was the word HUMILIATION.

    The path is needed to break down our false pride, crush our ego and enable us to feel humility. We cannot do this for ourselves. Life does it for us if we are willing to take it in. To have humility is to have wounds, disappointments, defeats. Your flag is in tatters. You feel to the depth of your being that you are unworthy. Only then can you be trusted.

    Tags: ,

  • May 4, 2018

    It seems to me that the ‘normal’ setting of my nervous system is assertive, that I place myself according to my wants, facing in the direction that satisfies them. Even when I feel I am at my least assertive, when I don’t want to engage, I assert this stance also by turning away from what does not please me.

    Can I observe the nature of assertiveness? Does it not isolate me? Does it not establish a narrow, selective range of perception?

    Last night in zikr, it seemed that we were invited along a different path. The first step was a request, to abandon self-assertion, to set aside self-importance, to relax the physical posture that holds our assertiveness in place. An invocation of humility followed naturally. Humility is an ‘inner’ posture, a declination of breath and body and sense of self, an inner bowing of mind and heart, a rounded softness. Humility could be called ‘poor in spirit’ which refers not to a lack of energy, not a defeat but rather a dimming of self-assertion.

    The first of the Beatitudes says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (King James Version).

    Humility invited intimacy. Barriers collapsed. Intimacy is to be close, so close as to be able to follow the subtle movements of the one with whom I am intimate by knowing them in my own response. Intimacy is everything in prayer. Is there an answer in prayer, one could ask? Yes, intimacy, that is the answer. Prayer contains its own answer. Perhaps I could think that I do not know the one to whom I pray. But in fact I do, in knowing the response which is called by Him in me.

    Intimacy invites sweetness. Sweetness is the taste of my relationship with my Beloved. This is an inner taste, the essence of the sweetness found in honey.

    Tags: , , , , , ,

  • March 24, 2018

    There are times when it is correct to feel pride in what one has been given, knowing that you have been asked to bear a burden for the benefit of others. The blessing is in bearing the burden with pride, not born down or broken by the obligation. This is not self-pride but nobility, a quality of great beauty both denigrated and forgotten in our time.

    And there are times when the correct posture is one of submission.

    What is meant by correct? Please, no rules. Correct is that which meets the current need without deviation. It is the discernment of deviation that matters. Deviation is always about serving one’s own interests first.

    When is submission called for? Personal failure certainly comes to mind. When something I worked for and expected fails to happen, I can panic and imagine all the dire consequences. Or when I fear that something important depends entirely upon me.  There is another, deeper challenge…when the heart is unresponsive and unfeeling, seemingly isolated and frozen.

    Submission is a wonderful response, a correct response to these problems. The reality is that I cannot myself be correct without the feeling of being corrected, that I cannot decide myself without the feeling of being guided, that my aims and purposes must be surrendered in order to be redeemed. This is not easy. My first thought is usually that I can fix the problem myself, whatever it is. To submit is to relinquish, to give over, and that rarely occurs without suffering.

    How can I then submit? In my experience, the process begins with an act of letting go, a full body sensation of releasing tension. It then moves to a posture, inner and outer, of lowering myself, bowing head and heart. In imagination and in fact, I yield the center…where I do not belong…and acknowledge higher powers. This posture invokes humility and that saves me from myself, at least for a time.

    Humility is not defeat, not humiliation. In fact, it has an immediate inner complementary feeling of being raised up. We bow and we are raised. This complementarity is not from my intention. It is like a teeter-totter, all part of one movement, of which my part is to humble myself and submit.

    Tags: , , , , , ,

  • June 25, 2017

    I think that most of us do not appreciate how much our work efforts are shaped and limited by what we think we know.

    Mark Twain famously said that “it ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    My knowledge of this work is similar. What I think I know may have been useful when I first came upon it, a step to stand on, but now it is a stumbling block that closes off the questioning needed to open new horizons. I develop a dependency upon old ways of thinking. I take refuge in old aims and I cling to established procedures without recognizing that’s what I’m doing.

    “I can place attention on sensation, I can invoke presence, I can observe self… I know what I’m doing. Any day now, it will all come together and I will move on to the next level.”

    Maybe I need to give up.

    Do I really think this is my work? That I can do it my way according to my understanding? Do I think that I know what is needed? When was the last time I was surprised to see things in an entirely new way?

    What do I really know? Can I explain it to a young friend who has no background in this work and none of our specialized vocabulary?

    Giving up is not the same thing as quitting. Quitting has a quality of rejection. Giving up is acknowledging that my efforts are fruitless because I need help and I am open to being led, or shown something new. There is humility in that and humility is a most wonderful opener of doors.

    Tags: , , , ,

  • May 22, 2015

    I am sitting in the zikr chamber. I agree to be here. All connections to ‘my’ life outside are relinquished. This is the only place there is, the only time there is.

    I relax my body on the outbreath. This occurs in layers. The musculature is first, followed by sinews and tendons which hold me to myself, in habitual resistance to my environment, separating me from other. Posture triggers sense of self. I release them both. I become somewhat unfamiliar to myself.

    I relax my mind. Do you know that your mind has a shape? That is how it holds the thoughts that are habitual to you. This shape can be sensed, especially in the leaving of it. Breathing out, I release the form of my mind, allowing it to collapse. There is no longer a small comfortable space for ordinary thinking. Thinking loses its customary structure.

    Breathing out, I merge with the space outside. Breathing in, I take the outside space inside. Slowly, the distinction between these spaces is erased. The inside is the outside, two become one. I sense that I am suspended in space, a space which is unknown to me.

    Where am I? All sentient beings have orientation. Migrating birds tend towards home. Dogs turn to their masters. When the compass of life in the world has been disengaged, humans turn towards their origin, a place with many names and many paths leading to it. Tonight it is beauty. Tonight it is the beautiful one. As this feeling enters, beckoning, I face towards it in greeting, allowing it to suborn me, choosing to surrender and follow.

    You lead me to humility. Lower invites higher. I have nothing of my own and I am thankful for that. All that I am is your reflection and I am thankful for that.

    The zikr begins.

    Tags: , , , , , , ,