• January 13, 2020

    This is my failsafe, my touchstone. Can I let my mind rest upon nothing? Just for a moment? I am not talking about blanking out the mind or stopping thought. This is the opposite of control. Can I let go, fully release? Can I, in one moment, completely submit…my self, my breath, my posture. And if I can? I get an immediate hit of ecstasy.

    Now I’ll warn you about this ecstasy thing. It’s not the same as extra joy, not euphoria nor extreme happiness. Ecstasy is laced with pain, with sorrow and with exaltation. Its exquisite intensity is inherent in its contradictory nature. Ecstasy is not one thing but rather the simultaneity of many things…a dose of another reality. This is the door-opener that takes you to the heart of the Universe.

    This is not something that can be maintained for long periods, at least in my experience. But if I can perform this maneuver, it’s like being shot out of a cannon and I have a moment when the work can be remembered and understood.

    The key is submission. Can I learn to submit? The whole of life is a lesson in submission. Every sacrifice I make for another’s sake, every sincere confession of my limitations, every time I voluntarily give up my point of view, I am learning the path of submission.

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  • May 21, 2019

    Zikr is a journey. To remember myself and then to be remembered by my origin, I must be able to move from one place to another. You could say it is a journey within myself but this suggests it is subjective, psychological. In fact, the journey is through invisible spaces which are nonetheless experiential in sensation, thought and feeling.

    I begin in my personal space. What is this space? I am at its center and it is arranged around me, contracted around the impressions of the day, my concerns and my aims which are held by my attention in the form that I recognize as me. I am a form which organizes the limitless into something small.

    I sense that I am sitting. I sense that I am breathing. I hear the sound of my voice. The sound becomes more resonant with repetition. I enter the present, which is no longer a personal space.

    I hear the group, not only my own voice. I become synchronous with the group. We breathe together. Now the group becomes the sounding, a blending of many. There is joy and pleasure in this participation which no longer requires my assertion. My breath becomes more subtle.

    The words alter the group and its location in space. How is this possible? Perhaps it is like the tuning of an antenna. The journey enters a new place where there are sensations and feelings I do not know in my personal space. It is as if I look around and see that I am in a different country, far from where I began. But the differences are subtle, not available to ordinary perception.

    I fall more deeply into the zikr. It becomes my request to enter His space, where we may have our meeting. In His sovereign space, I am at the edges, seeking admittance. He is the center. My passport is submission, as much as can be managed. What remains is something resembling an aspect of Him.

    As Ibn Arabi asks: “Where were you and where was I when we had our meeting?” The journey is towards a meeting. His charity is great for He does not insist that the meeting take place on His terms. We go as far as we can go. The further we go, the more of Him. “I saw you at some distance,” He says, “and I came running to meet you on the way.”

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  • 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.

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  • June 10, 2015

    I wish to inquire into the meaning of invocation and why it is so emphasized in this work.

    Spiritual evolution ultimately requires help from higher forces. The opponent of progress is self. I am the barrier to my own evolution. If evolution depends on me alone, I am lost. My efforts to change are a reflection of my limited understanding and my motivations which prevent real change. Can the one who seeks change be simultaneously the agent of change that is by its very nature unknown to me?

    Furthermore, if spiritual evolution is real, would it not suggest that I am not the first and that others who have gone before me may have been able to find help? Perhaps they are able and willing to help me?

    The idea of help suggests teachers and schools. Let us be sceptical and assume that they know nothing more than you do and that they have personal motives. Not a bad assumption, in my experience. Is there another kind of help?

    A good place to start is to take an inventory. What tools for your possible evolution do you have available to you now? Can you access capacities that are not tainted by self? This is a serious question each of you should work with diligently. Today, I will skip to the answers I have found but you need to go through the same process and not rely on my work.

    In my experience, the first and most important tool you have access to is attention. Attention is the perfect catalyst…it initiates various processes but it is itself not changed by them. We have discussed attention many times in our group and it is not the subject of this inquiry. A second immensely valuable tool is invocation.

    What is invocation? To invoke is to call. It is a very specific use of the human capacity for speech.

    Vajrayana says that humans consist of body, speech and mind; speech connects body to mind, it is the subtle bridge between form and essence, a midpoint of transformation and a doorway to invisible worlds.

    A word may be used to create an initial vibration. Certain words are invocational; they have a shape, sound and texture which together suggest the inner nature of what they name, even when pronounced inwardly as fikr. The word creates a vibration in body and mind. The machine being quiet and passive, the word in the mind finds its counterpart, its echo, in sensation. Word and sensation held gently by attention resonate and invite feeling. All other content is ignored.

    And so the presence of that which is named is brought into the present. This is invocation.

    Invocation is deepened by inviting the invoked to shape thinking, sensing and feeling. Attention is a key…it does not wander but continues to connect to, and accommodate, the sensations and feelings of the invoked, and amplify them. A rose is easily thought and sensed but its essence is a feeling, a vibration of exact frequency which is expressed in every rose.

    Submission is the other key. Are you willing to become the invoked and know it from the inside…knowledge by presence as the sufis say?  Anything of your self is hindrance. Submission begins even before the invocation, in a relaxation of the body/mind, a releasing of self.

    On Monday night, we invoked XX. The experience was not what might have been imagined or pre-figured in thought. Knowing through invocation is not anything like thinking. In this form of engagement, you may experience a reciprocated love.

    Invocation is a talent. Are you an invocant? The invisible world is looking for invocants who can help its ‘residents’ enter and assist this continuum of sense and form. Who or what are these residents? They are qualities of essence, of being, most often experienced as feeling, perhaps embodied by an historical personage or an angel, perhaps having no form at all. Not all of them make good guests. You must be discerning, trustworthy and reliable. You cannot always call the one you wish; you must work with those whose presence, for various reasons, are nearest your present, those most in sympathy with where you are, inwardly and outwardly. This is not work for proud or precious people.

    I have heard you say that invocation and contemplation are closely related.

    You could say that contemplation is an invocation that is held. Contemplation is not mere thinking. The word contemplation is derived from templum, a proto-indo-european root word meaning to stretch or to string…a string that connects us to the worlds within and above?

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