• December 28, 2018

    Perhaps you think that to have a heart means to experience emotion and to sympathize with others…to be an emotional person. Can you consider another view?

    In this work, heart is a faculty, not a metaphor and not a temporary emotional state. Heart is a mirror-like organ of perception able to reflect the finest qualities…of humility, honour, beauty, glorification and truth to name a few…which exist continuously in the realm that is proper to them. Heart makes these qualities directly available to us in their essential formlessness unlike thoughts which stand for and represent something or sensations which vibrate the nervous system in response to a stimulus. Feeling is the nature of the thing itself.

    Sensation, thought and feeling…body, mind and heart…interacting together, make a real human being. Thought and sensation are freely given to each of us but feeling…what some call higher emotion…is not so easily accessed because the heart required for it must be uncovered.

    What covers the heart? The counterfeit of feeling….sentiment. Sentiment, literally sensing-mind, is, like all ordinary emotion, a combination of thinking and sensing. Both are valuable but they cannot substitute for the perceptions of the heart. The thought of love is not love. The sensation of sadness is not deep sorrow. The sentiment of friendship is not the mutual reflection of two open hearts.

    We have learned to indulge in the easy satisfactions of ordinary emotion, seduced by its habit-forming cycle of charging and discharging our biological organism. The undesirable must be relinquished before the desirable can be attained.

    The heart is traditionally thought to be in the center of the chest and is often experienced as if it is located there. But higher emotions are not produced in the body. Feelings are frequencies outside body and mind, although they may be describable in words and gestures which can be used objectively to invoke them if the heart is open. Sometimes the heart reflects the cold clear light of truth, sometimes the exquisite fire of love. For the heart, there is no right or wrong.

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  • August 3, 2018

    Reflection is the basis for understanding. I can be engaged in an experience but understanding it depends upon the mirror-effects of knowing the experience, knowing that I know it, knowing its impact on me and knowing its impact on the context. Past experiences of a similar nature and expectations of what may arise in the future are integrated into the present experience without dominating it. There is space for all this to occur simultaneously, not in thinking but in sensing and feeling.

    I have different avenues of experience. There is attention, the activating instantaneous non-mediated bridge that connects me to my experience. There is awareness, the passive scanning of myself and my environment. And there is consciousness, the integration of the different facets of my experience through the medium of reflection. Consciousness is required for understanding. Reflection is required for consciousness.

    Reflection is active but not assertive. It discerns but does not discriminate. It allows things that may be opposed to exist side-by-side for consideration. Reflection finds and traces the latticework of impressions that have shaped who I am.

    Where there is reaction, there is less reflection. The alchemist uses reaction to fuel reflection.

    Where reflection is lacking, the door of communication, the passageway to shared understanding, is closed. When I am not reflective, I may be quick to find answers and facile in explaining them but I do not learn easily and I typically do not ask questions. Reflective people ask questions and weigh their words. What they seek is not conceptual. They seek understanding. They reflect on the past and make it present, thus gaining access to their own lifetime.

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  • January 28, 2017

    I have read that the higher forms of prayer lead to contemplation. My question is how prayer differs from contemplation.

    Do these words really mean anything to you? If they are just terms that you want to define, you will never understand them.

    Prayer and contemplation really refer to the same thing. They converge. They may begin with what appears to be a different view, in a different place, but they come together as they must because they refer to the same capacities that we have as humans, those same few capacities that we are able to exercise.

    To pray is to ask. I have things that I want. Very quickly, I learn the limitations of asking other people. I may therefore inwardly ask God or the Universe, someone or something I have heard or read about who is reportedly more powerful and more charitable than other humans. At first, I probably only ask for what I think will be pleasing to me or to others I have a connection to. But perhaps it may occur to me to consider, who am I asking? Over time, this may become a serious question.

    A serious question, one that I can ponder, always contains its own answer. Such a question gives rise to looking. As Rumi says: “The looking is a trace of what we are looking for.”

    Is someone really there to hear my prayer? Perhaps I may begin to wish for a relationship with this mysterious someone. This possible relationship may become more important to me than the satisfaction of my wants. Can I find in my inner experience those thoughts, sensations and feelings that inform me of this one that I seek? Can I find in myself the evidence of the other? By its effect on me, can the other be known? The qualities I adopt in order to bring me closer…do they not reflect the qualities of the one I seek?

    This is the secret of real prayer. I discover that the qualities of the one I seek are reflected in me. What I can know of Him is His trace in me. “Know Thyself” was the advice inscribed on the wall at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. More exactly, as Ibn Arabi says: “He who knows himself knows his Lord.”

    To contemplate is to hold. I have some experiences that are precious to me. I wish to enter these experiences fully, to contemplate them to the exclusion of all else. Can this be done? I find that I must learn how to relinquish the thoughts and sensations that are not the ones I wish for. I also find that perception and attention must become subtle enough to discern and hold the essential qualities of the experience I seek to immerse myself in. I discover that the sensations of my experience have a feeling behind them that I can access. In contemplation I reflect that feeling. Then I know it.

    Both prayer and contemplation relinquish the ordinary self I know in order to share in something greater. Both are made possible by the law of reflection.

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  • 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.

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