• January 18, 2019

    I am sitting here in the invocation chamber. I sense that the space is unusually active tonight, concentrated, urgent perhaps in its wish to acknowledge me and get to work.

    I invoke attention into the sensations of sitting. This is not my attention. It is attention that descends into sensation, attention that is from the space that surrounds and confronts me, attending to my sensations, penetrating them, opening them. I am not the center, I am the edge, I am shore gripped by ocean. I am physically here. SAT.

    I invoke the presence of my presence into the present. I am sitting and I know that I am sitting. I am sensed and I know that I am sensed. I fully agree to be here, all that I am is here. CHIT.

    There is attention on sensation. There is the presence of presence in the present. There is another step. I spontaneously feel love of being here now. Love of Being. Complete sufficiency and the bliss of wishing nothing more. ANANDA.

    Energy arises. Joy arises. There are waves that cannot be kept but reoccur. The waves are immaculate, luminous, radiant.

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  • June 26, 2018

    What is meant by objective prayer? Isn’t prayer by its very nature subjective?

    There are different kinds of prayer and they serve different purposes. Let’s start with petitionary prayer. I pray for something for myself or for others. My prayer is therefore a wish. To whom do I pray? Perhaps I think of myself praying to God, the Absolute, His Endlessness or the Universe. The concept does not matter. In my opinion, it has no relevance. What matters is that I reach outside myself, I ask for help.

    Asking is the beginning of humility and it has the possibility of aligning my wish with greater forces. The way is opened to relationship and relationship can bring an action of the heart.

    Petitionary prayer is subjective. I do not know what is best. I do not know what the consequences will be if my wish is fulfilled.

    Isn’t this kind of prayer an expression of weakness?

    Yes, and isn’t that much of its value? If I wish for something, who better to ask than the One to whom I pray? Self-reliance is a great thing. Taking responsibility is admirable. But these qualities assume their rightful place when I recognize my limitations. Otherwise, do I not become arrogant and foolish?

    Now, there is another form of prayer which takes me deeper. It can be seen in the Jesus prayer, “Our Father…” This prayer has petitionary aspects but it also has something else, which is found in the line “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This means I no longer pray only for what I wish. I pray that His purpose should be fulfilled. To me, this is objective. It is also recognition that, in this world, His will is not fully sovereign.

    I think we can go still further. Objective Prayer would seek to fulfill His purpose within the prayer itself. What would such a prayer consist of? Would it not serve His pleasure? This prayer would express His qualities, such as love and glorification, which are not often found in this world. This prayer would celebrate my relationship with Him, revealing part of His nature to Himself through me, as a kind of mirror. In this prayer, my longing is His response and in this reciprocity there is mutual satisfaction.

    This is the purpose of zikr?

    Yes. By invocation, it may be possible to bring the bounty of His qualities into being. This would be objective prayer.

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  • May 24, 2018

    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.

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  • 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.

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  • February 9, 2018

    Zikr is never the same twice. Sometimes, as I begin, I am looking for the openings in that moment. Where can I begin the journey towards Him? What is the first step?

    Last night was not like that. He was there before me, waiting, ready to entice, delighted to join in, happy to help.

    Sit. Can I sense that I am sitting? He was sensing the sitting, inside of my sensing. Was I sitting for Him, so He could sit? I was conscious of being in His Presence. He was conscious of Himself in me. Was I looking for Him, or was He looking for me, or looking for Himself in me? I spoke the words of the Invocation and He seemed to enjoy them immensely.

    I was praying for His pleasure. He was at play in the sound and the rhythm.

    Then I felt that I was facing Him. My face was my original face, neither young nor old. His Presence was the sun on my skin. I remembered myself as I have always been.

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  • December 15, 2017

    Where were You, and where was I, when we had our meeting?” (Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi)

    Let us say that you have sincerely decided to invite God into your life. You wish to receive His visitations.

    Your room has a lot of furniture and your house is small. There is room for only a little bit of God. Over time, the relationship may empty your room and make additions to your house so that you can accommodate more of Him. The manner of His visits will then become more and more uniquely your own and less the script found in religion. He is most considerate to limit Himself to the expressions in which you are most able to recognize Him.

    Now, consider that you may also wish to visit Him, to enter His Life. You would need to relinquish your room, your house, your identity, your sense of self. It would be a journey requiring you to sacrifice past and future in order to enter His Presentness with all your attention, forsaking all others. This is zikr.

    You know who you are when you enter the zikr chamber. You know where you are, the street address, the ascending stairway, the carpet where you sit. Such a place does not yet have room for a meeting with Him. But soon, the journey begins and you are no longer in that place, not in the same time. Your address has changed and you are not yourself. If you were to look around you, you would be able to reconstruct the room you entered. But you have moved on. You have left your life. You are on the Way to Him. Invocation shapes the space which then corresponds to His inclination to express Himself. Your response is His Gift to you.

    According to Hadith, Allah says: “Take one step towards Me and I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards Me and I will come running towards you.”

    Where were You, and where was I, when we had our meeting? We met on the Way.

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