• July 20, 2018

    By this I do not mean work on self, which is preliminary, to bring me to the point where I am reliable. I mean something else, the Work.

    Can I speak to you about the Work? Describing the Work is not the experience of it. The experience involves a completely different view of what life is for…that it is not about my personal aims and satisfactions, not about changing the world for the better. It is not about anything familiar.

    At this stage, what I say may enter you only as an idea. Ideas have value if they undermine your habitual view of things. What is obscure and confusing, what cannot be grasped now, becomes clear when the haze of self-interest has been lifted.

    The Work is Work for the Absolute. It begins with an understanding that there is something the Absolute needs from us, which in turn suggests that the Absolute is not all-powerful and perfect the way He is described in religion. How could this be? Let us try to think about this.

    Perhaps the Absolute was perfect and all-powerful before time began but He was unknown to Himself. Desiring to know His own Nature, He made the Creation as an expression of Himself. From what did He create? Why, from the only one existing, Himself. The only One entered the Creation by becoming the Creation itself, accepting limitation as the price of self-discovery. He became the possibilities within His own Nature and therefore, at least in part, became less than perfect.

    Having identified with His Creation, He sleeps within it as do we and all who identify with other than their own essence. At the same time, He never ceases to be the Absolute.

    What does He need from us? First, He needs us to be, and to realize in our life, the qualities He has manifested in us as His creation, so that He might know Himself. Each of us is a unique mirror in which He could regard Himself. For this, I must learn not to live for myself. I must learn to let Him into my life, allow Him to participate. As I begin to see His gifts in me, they become available also to Him. I see myself in Him as He sees Himself in me…a mutual regarding or mushahida.

    He sleeps within the Creation. He sleeps within me. If I awaken, the Creation awakens and the Absolute awakens.

    There is something more we can do for Him. Accepting the limitation of Creation imposes immense, unending suffering upon the Absolute. All the suffering in the world is His. His agony is unendurable yet must be endured. Did He know this would be the result?

    Mr. G wrote in his first series that the aim of this Work is “to have the possibility of consciously taking part in diminishing the sorrow of our Common Endless Father.” Can we who are His creatures accept some small measure of His suffering and feel compassion for Him and His Creation? Can we, despite our suffering, love Him, praise Him and glorify Him, which, it is said in our tradition, provides some small measure of temporary relief for Our Common Creator? This does not mean to seek out some new or special suffering…there is more than enough already…but rather to meet the suffering that comes my way with objective compassion for myself and Him.

    You might ask, if this is true, why He prolongs His suffering? Could He not wind up Creation? Reverse it? Or is He so immersed in the love of His Creation, and so caught in the shocking facts of His self-disclosure, that He needs the help of those who Work?

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  • February 27, 2018

    I find that compassion makes it easier to accept the world as it is.

    Perhaps I could suggest that you need to go deeper? There is nothing comfortable about compassion. The suffering in compassion has no limit and no corrective. This is why it is so powerful. There is no avoidance of the facts, no effort to change or improve the situation. Compassion is a deep penetration of the precise nature of the situation with all of its pain and hopelessness. And then it flowers in an exquisite play of love and sorrow.

    Isn’t compassion similar to forgiveness?

    Forgiveness is part of another stream, another remarkable avenue of human consciousness. Forgiveness does not stand alone. First there is the sensation of guilt or remorse, then confession, then contrition, then forgiveness, perhaps followed by expiation.

    Forgiveness is most often embedded in a process of correction. It is earned by agreeing to make a change, offering a sacrifice or recompense. It is focused on self…my misstep or yours. It offers the chance to begin again, anew. This is an extraordinary process of transformation. The challenge is not to become isolated in the self, its guilt and its need to unburden itself.

    I can see how the process of forgiveness unfolds. I do not see how compassion is possible.

    When self-importance and self-isolation are temporarily suspended, compassion enters naturally. Probably for most of us, it first arises from a deep connection to the suffering of another. In time, it becomes compassion for self. For some, it is a gift that flows from genuine prayer. There is no rejection in compassion, nothing to be changed. It is the deepest embrace of the way things are.

    You seem to suggest that there is no such thing as compassionate action.

    When compassion moves towards action, it becomes mercy. These are two different states, two different qualities. It is easier to be merciful. Mercy only requires pity in which I do not suffer with you. In zikr, the invocation begins: Bismillah ir-Rachman ir-Rahim. We begin in the name of the most Compassionate and Merciful.  He is Compassionate as well as Merciful. It is very sobering to realize that He also suffers.

    Compassion Prayer

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  • May 31, 2017

    The one thing true of all human beings is that we suffer. Although we may try to avoid it, suffering is almost always on the edge of our experience, if not at the center.

    Do you know the sensations of suffering? It is not the same as pain, is it? Suffering may include both physical and mental pain but there is something more…the fact that the distress cannot be evaded. There is no escape, therefore it must be suffered. The old English word ‘sufferance’ contains the original meaning: the capacity to endure pain and hardship.

    Have you ever inquired into why you suffer? This was the quest of the Buddha…to understand the cause of suffering and to find a resolution.

    Aging and sickness are the classic examples of suffering…observing them reportedly led to Buddha’s quest…but suffering is much more pervasive than that. Can we be honest with ourselves? Suffering arises from unfulfilled expectations, frustrated desires, disappointments both for ourselves and those close to us. We suffer the apparent meaninglessness of ordinary life, injustice in its many forms, alienation and loneliness.

    Suffering is not all that we experience. Life offers an extraordinary richness of sensation, feeling and thought as well as many pleasant but temporary diversions to capture our attention. But suffering almost always reasserts itself and becomes the motive force for a genuine spiritual path, as it was for the Buddha. After years of observing the workings of his own mind in meditation, Buddha concluded that the cause of all suffering is desire. His findings were summarized in the Four Noble Truths: (1) Life is suffering; (2) Suffering arises from attachment to desires; (3) Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases; (4) Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path.

    Now, to cut to the chase, because we are impatient Westerners, the Eightfold Path ends with liberation from the self that experiences desire. Liberation occurs when it is perceived that the ‘I’ that desires has no independent existence…it is an illusion born of ignorance…a contingent assemblage of impressions and false identities that can be unmasked and swept away, allowing the emergence of unimpeded clarity, compassion and bliss.

    How does this relate to our work?

    In many ways, Buddha’s insights are compatible with our work. We agree that the correct method is inquiry into self. We agree that the self is illusory and that this can be discovered through observation of self.

    But concerning suffering itself, there is another view. To love is to suffer attachment. To seek beauty is to suffer. To value truth is to suffer. In this view, it is not mistaken to wish for the joy of one’s beloved. It is not wrong to suffer the consequences of one’s loyalties. These sufferings are also transformative and liberating if they are undertaken voluntarily. Here, too, the ego is crushed and the self is liberated.

    The desires of the personal ego are false and lead nowhere good. But desire is also the motive behind creation, experienced by the universe in its excessive expressions of exuberance which gave us being. In this view, life is not only the karmic consequence of ignorance which must be unwound, it is also the purposeful realization of divine possibilities.

    Learn from the Buddha as I have. Take his path if it suits you. But the same mountain he climbed can be scaled from the other side, where the personal is overwhelmed by the greatness of God.

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  • January 10, 2016

    You say we should deepen our love. How are we to do that?

    I think perhaps you did not quite hear what I said. What I said, or meant to say, was ‘may our love be deepened’. This is a prayer, a request for something that I cannot bring about for myself. Love is not something I can generate or command.

    In our work, there are four transformative energies that humans can participate in—sensitivity, consciousness, attention and love. Each stands successively above the other. Love is the highest of them, beyond everything that we can manage or control. Love has the power to change us fundamentally, to redeem, even to resurrect. By comparison, all other agents of change are diminished.

    Love is governed by its own laws and answers to no one. Nonetheless, there are certain actions which may help to bring love into us, if we are courageous enough to wish for this.

    Can I remember the feeling of being loved? Perhaps this memory can be quickened by attention, enabling me to call upon love with a similar voice.

    Love is received in the heart, the organ of feeling. An open heart, a broken heart, accommodates love; a hardened, embittered heart does not. The suffering and sacrifice of ordinary life can reliably supply all the heartbreak we need. Can I accept it without resentment or self-pity? Can I patiently clear away the psychic structures, needs and identifications that define me? They take up room that is needed for love.

    Can I reduce my need for other things?

    Can I make myself attractive to love? Love seems to prefer the humble, the simple, the sincere, the unassuming, the undemanding.  Observing self objectively, I may come to these qualities naturally. Knowing self reduces self-importance, which love does not favour.

    Can I learn to care for someone more than myself? You may think that caring comes from love but I think it is often the other way around. Learning to care for another brings you to the doorstep of love. Making another more important than yourself is agonizing but potent magic.

    Consider that you may have access to a feeling that can introduce you to love. Compassion and longing may serve although they lack the risks that accompany love. Some of the ancient heart-gestures that are now all but lost may also bring you to love, such as glorification or adoration. If you somehow have access to these, you are well on the way.

    The greatest love is love of the Absolute. Love of others can be a preparation for this love. But love of the Absolute is also unlike any other love. This love is found through the experience of being loved unconditionally, as only the Absolute can love. It begins with being seen.

    One more word of advice: accept no substitutes. Sentimentality is not love. Affection is not love. Know love by its combination of pleasure and pain, sufficiency and insufficiency, sorrow and joy.

    Related Post:

    Love – Jan 1, 2016

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  • January 1, 2016

    We rarely talk about love and its relevance to the spiritual path.

    Yes, that is true. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that while it is the most basic and powerful of all qualities, love is also the most misunderstood.

    It is common to view love as always good, unfailingly positive. But I would say it is beyond what we consider to be good or positive. In what I am about to say, please understand that I have not travelled the full length of the path of love but I have seen the signs and know something of the route.

    When all else is stripped away, is it not love that remains, if anything? Love is not merely affection, nor is it romantic. In the beginning, love by its very nature deceives the one who loves, who thinks that love and all its satisfactions can be won. The deception continues until there is no longer one who loves, only love itself.  Love is the ultimate motive behind all other motives and its ultimate aim and satisfaction is love alone.

    The fullness of love is therefore the death of self, the annihilation of the one who loves. This annihilation is not peaceful or gentle, rather it is a slow process of exquisite suffering in which the limitations of the one who loves are ruthlessly exposed and burned away. Along the way, love brings us the agony of attachment in which our dearest wishes for the ones we love are broken.

    Hatred, envy and greed are thought to be love’s opposites but are they not actually imperfect expressions of love? Love itself moves these deviations that take us far from love. Love itself sustains its counterfeits, the aims we pursue as substitutes for love. Therefore, we could say that the opposite of love is not hate but apathy.

    As Rumi says:

    The way sticks and pieces of dead grass and leaves
    Shift about in the wind;
    The directions of rain and puddle-water on the ground;
    Those motions are all a following
    Of the love they have been given.

    From this perspective, the Universe is an act of love and love stands behind its forms and gestures, perhaps to find a worthy response in our love of the Absolute beyond name and form.

    May our love be deepened.

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  • August 1, 2015


    The clear light of presence is an open doorway to the frequencies of a thousand precious qualities, beings of another kind whose formless nature informs this world with both its beauty and its severity.

    Sorrow is among the possible qualities available within presence. This is not the sadness of personal difficulties or the melancholy that comes with disappointment in the world. This is a measureless depth of shared, impersonal suffering, a we-feeling that emerges from realizing that the separation we must experience as beings, the separation from our origin, cannot be completely healed in this life.

    There are many ways of turning towards the source. Sorrow is one.

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