Message from the National Representative
Beauty by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Communicating with the Self by Zubin
Divine Beauty poem by Kafia
Beauty poem by Azim
Sermon on Divine Will by Taaj
Opening the Word of God by Karim
Review by Carole Voss of The Witch as Teacher in Fairy Tales
Photo credits: Royalty-free photos from www.pixabay.com. Thanks to pixabay users: Cover: Bess-Hamiti Page 8: Pexels: waves-1867285_1280.jpg Page 9: Pexels: cliff-1839392_1280.jpg Page 10: ID 12019: nepal-2184940_1280.jpg Page 11: janeb13: jasmine-star-946461_1920.jpg Page 14: Pexels: forest-1868136_1280.jpg Page 15: Pexels: beautiful-1850903_1280.jpg Page 19: Pexels: adventure-1846482_1280.jpg Page 20: Pexels: bible-1869164_1280.jpg Page 21: Pexels: book-1283468_1280.jpg
Other images: Illustrations by Hannah Baek Wha (page 25)
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Editorial Hazrat Inayat Khan, when talking about divine beauty, offered these beautiful words: When a person begins to see all goodness as being the goodness of God, all the beauty that surrounds him as the divine beauty, and as his heart constantly loves and admires the divine beauty in all that he sees, he begins to see in all that is visible one single vision; all becomes for him the vision of the beauty of God. This mystical vision provides the theme for this newsletter. It is the vision that awakens in us after zikr, after meditation and after wazifa, when the very atoms in our field of view seem to shimmer and pulse with divine beauty! Hazrat Inayat Khan also offered the following insight: By our trust in the divine beauty in every person we develop that beauty in ourselves. We are very much looking forward to our retreat next year (22-28th March 2019) with Pir Nawab, entitled â€œAwakening to Beautyâ€? and further information about this retreat is on page 24. I would like to thank Nuria, Zubin, Kafia, Azim, Taaj and Karim for their beautiful contributions to this issue of Spirit Matters. Towards the One, the perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty. With gratitude, Yaqin
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Beloved Sisters and Brothers Summer is almost here, and I am pondering the events of 2018. It has been an extremely difficult and challenging year for us at many levels. Yet we seem to have arrived at a good space along with the sun! We have closed off our last financial year 2017/2018 and are now finalising our virtual AGM. Our SMIA fees are now due again and some have already paid their dues, for which I thank them. We manage to achieve a lot with very little. We are also preparing for our retreat with Pir Nawab and hope that you will come and join us. These retreats have been getting ever more profound and deep, as the years go by and I think this one will be very special – the twentieth anniversary of Nawab’s first visit to us in 1999. The topic of this edition is divine beauty, and I must admit to feeling rather overwhelmed by this. In the world of mankind, I struggle to see divine beauty – I see no political leader who embodies it. But this year is no worse than other years past?? On reading Hazrat Inayat Khan’s autobiography, we see that he endured terrible things and yet he never gave up his task to bring the Sufi message to the western world. He knew the beauty of nature, of music, of the human spirit. So why do I find it so very difficult? In my daily walk I see the beauty of nature in the spring gardens around us; we are feeding the birds which come and visit our veranda every day; the butcher bird sits on our kitchen window ledge and warbles at us so beautifully, so I am reminded of that intelligence in nature. The Australian magpies know us and patiently await their feeding time too. They get to know us and we them. That is divine beauty too. There is a cockatoo who visits. She has no comb (I wonder if she was a tame one and had her comb cut off) but she is so friendly, and will eat out of our hands. Her mate is less tame but also come to eat almost daily. They do not seem to be part of a flock. Of course we get the rainbow lorikeets and other beautiful birds too. This is uplifting in a dark world.
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Why do our political leaders not truly represent us? Why do they lie? It is so frustrating. Why do we hear all the negative stories, and see the destruction of what we do to our fellow humans? And yet the good stories do exist. There are beautiful stories of the mystical journey, in the fairy stories I have worked with. Also in the stories of the inner journey of the prophets. Yesterday evening, we were invited to a celebration dinner at the Melbourne Town Hall by my friend the Rev Helen Summers of the Interfaith Centre of Melbourne, who, with her centre, won the first prize of the 2018 King Abdullah II of Jordan World Interfaith Harmony Week Prize. This is a wonderful recognition of the work that Helen and her team have done over the years, cumulating in a very special event in February showing the creation stories of many faiths, as part of world harmony week. The faith leaders were invited to bring community members with them to meet their ‘neighbours’ who come from diverse faiths, philosophies and cultures. Seven religious and spiritual leaders were invited to speak to the topic for twenty minutes from their traditions. Each speaker shared their creation stories from sacred texts or their oral tradition in their individual ways, sharing many commonalities and acknowledging the differences with respect. They wove together strands of religious teachings about creation, the meaning of life, and gave practical ways of how we can care for each other and the earth. H M King Abdullah II has called for peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians based on the twin commandments shared by both faiths, namely ‘love of God’ and love of neighbour’. He has done so much to promote interfaith in the world. At the dinner, were the leaders of the interfaith community, including Bishop Huggins, indigenous leader Auntie Helen, Buddhist monks and nuns, Hindu leaders and a very flamboyant Rabbi wearing a Ban Adani t-shirt, among others. The special guest was the ambassador for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan – H.E. Kraishan. For me it was very special, as the faith leaders spoke from the heart and showed me that the inner work is continuing in the community, even though it is not being reported. At dinner I sat beside a Buddhist nun who had lived for twenty years in a monastery in Korea and was fascinating to talk to. On my left was a leader of the Muslim community, who picked up on my name and wanted to know about our form of Sufism. I found myself sharing so much of who and what we are – he was so open, interested and loving that I felt enriched by our deep and meaningful conversation. Next to him was Auntie Helen and I so wanted to talk with her as I loved and was moved by what she said in her welcome to country speech. I told her that we light a candle for the Aboriginal faith while doing Universal Worship, and that this candle is set up before the other candles, as this religion was so much older than the others. She liked this very much and wanted to know if the congregation was aware of the reason for the placing of the candle. I told her that they were. I wanted to know more about their belief system. It is very much like ours! We are part of Nature and Nature is part of us – our Mother is the Earth and we must care for her. She told me she was brought up as a Christian (in Queensland) and that the two beliefs were ‘layered’ with one another, as she put it. They merged and supported each other. God and Nature were one. Then she talked about the sound and vibration of the didgeridoo and how it was used in healing. If it was played by a ‘pure’ and honourable person, then great healing and a deep meditative state would result. Auntie Helen does work at a hospice and sometimes brings a man who plays the didgeridoo to help those who are dying. I now have the contact details of such a man and hope that perhaps we can get him to come and play at our retreat next year. He leads healing walks and teaches meditation with the didgeridoo. By being in that atmosphere of love, harmony and beauty, and in knowing that this work goes on, gave me a glimpse of divine beauty. My mood lifted, and my usual optimism has returned. Page 5 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
I have also learned so much about King Abdullah, which I would like to share with you, because here is a leader who I can look up to! He has won the 2018 Templeton Prize for promoting religious harmony between Islam and other religions. The Amman message is worth reading! One of our speakers (an OAM) was there in 2004 when King Abdullah gave this talk and he spoke of his feelings when he heard it. He said that the talk came from the heart and deeply affected him. It was also mentioned that H.M. King Abdullah is a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhmmed. King Abdullah II who has done more to seek religious harmony within Islam and between Islam and other religions than any other living political leader, was announced today as the 2018 Templeton Prize Laureate. The announcement was made at www.templetonprize.org by the John Templeton Foundation, based in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. The King's quest to promote peace-affirming Islam gained momentum in 2004 in the wake of the Iraq war when he launched the Amman Message that articulated a clear understanding of the central elements of Islam. In 2005, 200 Islamic scholars representing all schools of jurisprudence in Islam, under his guidance, issued a declaration now known as the "Three Points of the Amman Message," which recognized the validity of all eight legal schools of Islam, forbade declarations of apostasy between Muslims, and established conditions for issuing fatwas, Islamic legal rulings. The following year, King Abdullah II supported and funded "A Common Word Between Us and You," which led to a 2007 open letter from Islamic religious leaders to Christian religious leaders calling for peace and harmony based on the twin commandments shared by both faiths, "love of God" and "love of the neighbour." In 2010, he proposed UN World Interfaith Harmony Week with a General Assembly resolution adding "love of God or love of the good" to "love of one's neighbour," thus including all people of goodwill, with or without faith. The resolution, adopted unanimously, established the first week of February as UN World Interfaith Harmony Week. The Templeton Prize, valued at 1.1 million British pounds, is one of the world's largest annual individual awards and honours a person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. In awarding the Templeton Prize to King Abdullah, the Foundation also emphasized his unwavering commitment to protect Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, and his leadership which has guaranteed safe haven for Jordan's ethnic and religious groups. He joins a group of 47 Prize recipients including Mother Teresa, who received the inaugural award in 1973, the Dalai Lama (2012), and Desmond Tutu (2013). The 2017 Laureate was American philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks won the 2016 Prize. His Majesty King Abdullah II, will be formally awarded the Templeton Prize in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 13. The speech which King Abdullah gave at the Washington National Cathedral on 13th November is on YouTube if you wish to hear it. It is very inspiring. Here is the link: https://worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com/hm-king-abdullah-ii-2018-templeton-prize-ceremonywashington-national-cathedral-nov-13/ Here are some of the highlights: My friends, our country has long upheld religious mutual respect. The five prophets of ‘great resolve’ – as they are called in the Quran – prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, peace be upon them all, have blessed our land with their presence. Noah has a tomb in Karak. Abraham came through from the land of what is now Iraq, on his way to Hebron. Moses died in Jordan on Mount Nebo. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was baptised in Jordan, on the East Bank of the River Jordan, by Jon the Baptist. My country preserves this special site and others with great care, welcoming Christians pilgrims and other visitors from around the world. Page 6 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
The Prophet Mohammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, came to Jordan twice – once with his uncle as a boy, when he was witnessed by a Byzantine priest as a future prophet, and then later as a young merchant. It was the first encounter under a tree, which is still present in the Jordanian desert, that set the tone for Muslim-Christian coexistence and harmony in Jordan. My friends, these prophets of great resolve were on a journey, an internal journey of the self, to fulfil God’s commands. And the first step of any such journey begins with the struggle, the jihad, within each of us, to be the best person we can be. The greater jihad of the great prophets brought illumination to all of us. So here, at this Cathedral, as a Muslim, I’d like to say a word about jihad. And I’m sure that’s not something you hear too often within these walls. But nothing, nothing is more important to understand. The greater jihad has nothing to do with the hate-filled fiction promoted by the khawarej -the outlaws of Islam, such as Daesh and the like, or the Islamophobes who also distort our religion. It is, instead, the personal, internal struggle to defeat the ego, and the struggle we all share for a world of peace, harmony, an love. As it has been said, in Islam, to love God and love one’s neighbour are core commandments. And when we talk about hope and coexistence, no issue is more important than Jerusalem. More than half of the world’s people belong to religions that hold Jerusalem as a holy city – Islam, Christianity and Judaism. For Muslims, Jerusalem stands along with Mecca and Medina as one of Islam’s three holiest places. And a special duty binds me, and all Jordanians, as Hashemite custodian of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites. With its long, multi-faith heritage, Jerusalem must be protected as a unifying city of peace. And I am tremendously grateful to the Templeton Prize for making it possible to further this work. A portion of the Templeton Prize will help renovate and restore religious sites in Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The entire remaining sum is also being donated to humanitarian, interfaith, and intra-faith initiatives, in Jordan and around the world. It is time to do all we can to maximise the good in our world, and bring people together in understanding. But it begins with the struggle, the jihad, within ourselves to be the best we can be. And it’s been said that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. But together, God willing, we can achieve something important; we can create the future of coexistence that humanity so desperately needs. Let us keep up the struggle. Thank You. I feel very uplifted by this experience yesterday and hope that we can all do our part in spreading the message of Divine Love in our community. With love, Nuria National Representative Sufi Movement in Australia
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by Hazrat Inayat Khan from Volume XI - Philosophy, Psychology and Mysticism
Beauty, which the knower appreciates and a lover admires, is worshipped by the mystic. It is useless to try to put into words what beauty is, but if anything can explain it, it is the other word for beauty and that is harmony. It is the harmonious combination of colours, the harmonious grouping of lines, and the harmonious blending of the objects of nature that suggest to us the idea of beauty. In order to be beautiful an object must be harmonious, for in point of fact, harmony is beauty. If there is anything in the world that makes man unconscious of himself, in other words that makes him lose his selfconsciousness, if there is anything that makes man humble, that makes him surrender willingly, it is beauty. Beauty is something that conquers without a sword, that holds without hands, that is more tender then the petals of a flower and stronger then anything in the world. The Prophet has said, 'God is Beauty and He loves what is beautiful.' Beauty can be divided into three aspects. The first one is beauty of the object world, of objects. This aspect of beauty is to be seen in nature. What attracts man unconsciously to the beauty of nature is the harmony which it expresses. The sea, the mountains, the rivers, and the blue sky, the rising sun and the setting sun, the crescent and the full moon, they all seem to blend together so that a divine vision is produced that begins to speak to the soul. That is why the beauty of nature is uplifting. For the mystics, the prophets, and the sages this was a means of rising to that pitch where they could feel God. Then there was no longer a question of their belief in God, for they felt God in the beauty of nature. Page 8 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
The other is the objective beauty which is art, the creation of man. This beauty appeals to one because it is a production, an imitation which the soul admires. Very often those details which one cannot see clearly in nature are noticeable in art. Thus art is sometimes the finishing of beauty which is expressed in nature. An image drawn by an artist can be more beautiful, for the reason that the artist has finished what nature had left unfinished. But who is working in the artist? The Creator Himself; what the Creator had left undone, He has finished through the artist. Therefore creations of art are also uplifting. It is most inspiring when a person listens to the song of birds, yet a song sung or composed by a human being can be even more uplifting, for man has completed that beauty, it was is mission to complete it. It is for this that the world was created, that man might finish in his own way that which was not yet finished in nature, so as to make beauty complete. The second aspect of beauty is personal beauty, the beauty of the living being, whether in form and feature, in thought and imagination, in merit and qualifications, or in virtue and higher qualities. What is goodness? Beauty. What is right and wrong? That which is beautiful is right, that which lacks beauty is wrong. Is there then no such thing as what the religious people call sin and virtue? That which is beautiful is virtue, and that which lacks beauty is a sin. Are these not two opposite poles? They are when you look at them as opposite poles. When we look at the two ends of a line we see that there are two ends, but when we look at the center of the line we see that it is one line. These opposite poles appear to us as two only when we look at the two ends. When the carpet on the floor is not laid down as it should be then we say it is wrong, but there is no rule as to how it should be laid, it is only a sense we have of recognizing beauty. This sense is disturbed by seeing that the carpet is not laid straight, and so what is wrong is the lack of beauty. The third aspect of beauty is the beauty of God, which means beauty in its perfection. In order to see this beauty one must develop spirituality, so that this beauty may manifest to one's view. All that seems good and beautiful one can imagine in perfection as far as one's imagination reaches, calling it the
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beauty of God. For beauty is only manifest to our view in its limitation, it is in God alone that we see beauty in its perfection. There is no object of which we can say that it is perfectly beautiful, nor is there anyone except in our ideal that we can attribute all beauty. We can make something as beautiful as possible but in reality all beauty belongs to the One and Only, and that is God. There are two ways of discovering beauty. One way is to find it in the distribution of all things and beings. What one person lacks another has got, what one tree lacks the other tree has, what the river lacks the sea has, what the desert lacks is to be found in the forest, what the earth lacks is to be found in the sky. Therefore, when we take beauty as a whole, we begin to get a glimpse of what it is. Beauty is never absent but when we take a part of it and look at only that, we shall certainly see some lack of beauty. Those who see beauty cut up in divisions, in sections, become critical. They are in pursuit of beauty, but they do not find it, they find a little in one person and a lack of it in another. Even when they find a little beauty in one person, they still find something lacking too. When we compare this with all the perfection of beauty, then the lack of beauty manifests much more to us then the beauty itself. Naturally therefore man becomes critical, and this tendency makes him blind to himself.
The other way of seeing divine beauty is to close one's eyes for a moment to the dense aspect of beauty in order to see the inner beauty. For instance the one who rises above the beauty of form begins to see the beauty of thought, the one who rises above the beauty of thought begins to feel the beauty of feeling, of sentiment, which is greater still; and the one who rises even above sentiment and sees the spiritual aspect of beauty, sees a beauty which is still greater. There is no end to the realization of the inner beauty. The inner beauty is much greater when compared with outer beauty, yet it does not make a person turn away from the outer beauty. It only makes him appreciate it more than others do. Once an ascetic thinker was taken to a variety show in New York, where there were all sorts of dances and acts and different amusements, the one who took him there was eager to find out what his opinion about it was and said to him, 'This must disgust you, a contemplative person, to come and see this nonsense going on the stage.' He replied, 'No, never. How can it be disgusting? Is it not my Krishna who is playing there?' It is those who have touched the inner beauty who are capable of appreciating beauty in all forms. It is not only that they appreciate it, they admire and worship it. If worship is given to anything or anyone it is given to the God who is hidden in the form of beauty. The poems of the Sufis of Persia and elsewhere, such as Hafiz and Jami, Rumi and Fariduddin Attar, are not only philosophical statements, but they are written from beginning to end in admiration of beauty. If one were to dive deep into their every verse, one would find that each one was equal to a hundred books full of philosophy. Why? Because their souls have been moved to dance at the sight of beauty. What they have expressed in their words is living, burning, full of beauty. It penetrates the one who can feel it, who can admire it. Their poetry is their prayer. It might seem that it is sung to beauty, but to whom is it sung? Their song is to God. Page 10 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
Communicating with the Self By Zubin
The annual retreat at the dargah on the topic Communicating with the Self under the guidance of Pir Nawab was a journey to the depths of the heart, to illuminate and discover the infinite beauty within and without. The pre-retreat practice included reflecting on the statement: â€œThe mystic delves deeper in himself in order to discover what it is in him that lives and what it is that dies, what it is in his being that is limited and what it is that is beyond limitation. By meditating on this a mystic communicates with his self.â€? from Volume X1, Philosophy Psychology and Mysticism, Part III, Mysticism. Every opportunity to dive deeper is provided by the purification of the rhythmic days of the retreat program, simple meals and opportunities for repose with a harmonious group of likeminded travelers. In the dargah beauty is manifest in the peaceful courtyard where each day the delicately perfumed five-petalled flowers from the jasmine tree are collected by the gardener and gently added to the roses in the dargah. The devoted staff are support retreatants and maintain the activities that are ongoing throughout the year. The dargah offers langar of dahl and roti to the wider community twice a week.
Each day we reflected on one of the nature meditations until we were absorbed in it, and it in us, we became one with the sun, the moon, the beauty of nature, the holy spirit, and in doing so discovered the self beyond limitation. Why communicate with the self that is worried about
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my standing in the world when one can communicate with the infinite being deep within one’s own heart? In doing so we may find guidance regarding our worldly activities, and the retreatants had an extended informal discussion about the many ways they contribute to or serve their communities in addition to their employment, and what they offer to friends and family. These activities are so diverse and range from personal grooming for elders, to orientation and support for refugee families. The self to which Murshid refers in the quote above, is described by Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968) as follows: “At the centre of our own being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes our lives…. This little point of nothingness and absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us…. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the in visible light of heaven.” Surely this is the Self of Divine Beauty. At the dargah, Dr Farida Ali directs the daily activities of the complex and continues the diplomacy that is required throughout that setting. All donations are put to use for the Sufi message and no doubt, the bigger complex requires a bigger budget. The beautiful santoor concert that concluded the retreat was one of a number of music concerts held at the dargah this year. It is a great privilege to visit the dargah and experience the devotion to the Sufi message from that perspective. From 3-5 February 2019 the urs of Hazrat Inayat Khan will be held at the dargah and a small group of Australians will attend. Further information about attendance at the urs is available from Pir Nawab.
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Divine Beauty by Kafia Doris Airey
Nature is a miracle a beautiful, self improving tapestry, an interactive enviro-geo-biodiversity, a solar system of molecules replaying the symphonic poem of divine beauty. We are that; the creation, the created , the creating All who are beautiful in thoughts ,words and actions are held in the protective embrace of the Collective Being, the primal energy of all Divine Beauty. For many lifetimes , in many planes it prevails. The art of Divine Beauty is the art of projecting the heart energy in order to modify the vibrations of flight or fight, the animal dominance for food and shelter that has ruled until now in the shaping of the animal hierarchy. Divine Beauty has begun with women saying we are equals --we will no longer be abused Divine Beauty is the future gentle youth of our world respecting, caring, self controlling ,protecting nature and each other ,loving all as ones self beyond sex, colour and belief. Divine Beauty is starting with our children Once little boys are taught to totally respect little girls as equals As they grow and mature and lead with new consciousness This mutual respect will flow to respecting all peoples, animals, nature, the planet and the Creator of Divine Beauty These new humans will not be manipulated into wars Gross damage to the planet will be stopped Pollution reversed, forests replanted Global warming slowed and maybe reversed The feminine balance will be restored As above so below Divine Beauty will prevail.
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Beauty by Azim
Inspirer of my mind Is it possible to find When the planets are aligned In the deep and wondrous sight Of a starry starry night A long lost and forgotten sign Pointing to the Divine Consoler of my heart Where do I begin to start To seek the source of all lifeâ€™s art Is it in the Dawns first light The gentle swell of sea at night In the sparkling diamonds shine Is there a hint of the Divine ? Healer of my Spirit dear What seems elusive yet so near If Thou could make my vision clear Then I could finally see As a bird atop the highest tree A world of Beauty, vast and fine All Beauty is the Divine
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Divine Will Sermon on Divine Will Hejirat, Sydney 2018 by Taaj Cynthia Letton
Volume 7 In an Eastern Rose Garden The Will, Human and Divine Beloved ones of God, divine will is a compass guiding our journey of self-realization. And yet, how do we know if we are being led by divine will or personal will? How can we be sure that our ego is not deluding us into believing our personal desire is divine will? What is the difference and do we discern it? How do we prepare ourselves so as to harmonize personal will with divine will. In Volume7, In an Eastern Rose Garden, Pir O Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan addresses these important questions. He begins by stating, The will is the same, whether it be human or divine. The only difference is that in one aspect it is the whole, in the other aspect it is a part; in one aspect it is almighty, in the other it has only a certain might, or a certain power; in one aspect it is unlimited, in the other it is limited. Murshid teaches that the amount of ease or strife we experience in the fulfilment of our objectives is an indication of the degree to which we are, or are not, in harmony with divine will. Murshid states: When it is the divine will it is like something floating on water; it advances without effort. Problems and actions may be
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achieved in a moment, whilst at other times the smallest problem cannot be solved without great difficulty. All this is accounted for by harmony with the divine will. Everyone experiences such a thing at some time or other. When things are in harmony with the divine will, everything is there; we just cast a glance towards a thing and it is found, as in the saying, "Word spoken, action done." When we strive with all the material in our hands and yet cannot achieve our desire, that is when the matter is contrary to the divine will. Our success or failure all depends upon the harmony or disharmony of our individual will with the divine will. Once I was presented with an experiential teaching that allowed me direct experience with personal and divine will. The exercise was a martial arts inspired board-breaking experience. In the first experience I broke a board with personal will and sheer force. Taking a strong stance I brought my elbow far back, with as much force as I had, I thrust my hand forward forcefully striking the centre of the board with the heel of my hand. When the board snapped in two I felt a warrior-like energy rise up within. I felt ready to conquer. In the next exercise, though I would also break a board, the energy utilised to do so was vastly different. The instructions were to place my open palm 2-3 centimetres above the board and feel into it so as to harmonize with the fact that - although the board appeared solid – it was, in fact, comprised of more space than matter. When I was able to mentally connect with the space between the seemingly solid material - the split second I knew the board was not solid - I was to take a breath and push hand through the board. To my astonishment, with little physical effort, the board broke in two. The feeling was a combination of awe, disbelief and wonder; a sense that I had connected to a power greater than my capacity to comprehend. What was also interesting about this experience is that while the majority of my companions in the exercise eagerly jumped up to participate in the first experience, and most were successful, only approximately one third of the class even attempted the second experience. Of those who attempted the second experience, many failed to break the board the second time around. I liken the first board-breaking experience using personal strength to that which Murshid referred to as limited will. Indeed, my will and directed personal power were sufficient enough to break the board. However, my second experience of focused intention and harmonizing with the atmosphere of the board utilised a far more complete, or as Murshid states, “whole experience” of divine will. It was my ability to harmonize with the nature of the board which aligned me to a force more complete- and in my experience, far gentler than my limited personal will. This experience taught me that receptivity and harmony with is a both a gentler more powerful force than the force of my personal will and effort. Perhaps you have had the experience that when you employ personal will power a tendency to ignore the signs in the environment arises as you push forth at whatever cost despite the obstacles, strife or signs that all is not in harmony. This type of effort is highly regarded in modern society. Conversely, harmonizing with allows us to experience what the Taoists refer to as Wu Wei, roughly described as effortless natural action that results when our mental state is aligned with the flow of life. Murshid’s statement: When it is the divine will it is like something floating on water; it advances without effort, is similar to the teachings of Wu Wei. Murshid’s statement that: our success or failure all depends upon the harmony or disharmony of our individual will with the divine will was demonstrated for me and my classmates in the board breaking exercise. Whilst it is possible to for our actions to be lead with either personal or divine will, Murshid also teaches that we are never truly outside the realm of divine will - as we are like branches of ONE tree. Eloquently, Murshid states: The difference between the divine and the human will is like the difference between the trunk of a tree and its branches; and as from the boughs other branches and twigs spring, so the will of one powerful individual has branches going Page 16 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
through the will of other individuals. In a tree there is a trunk, and there are some prominent or large branches; from these there spring many smaller branches. So there are the powerful beings, the masters of humanity. Their will is God's, their word is God's word, and yet they are branches, because the trunk is the will of the Almighty. As the branches grow, so we too grow; as the branches develop, we develop; as the branches flourish, we flourish; as the branches bear fruit, we bear fruit; as the branches are capable of rising, we too rise. Whether the branch be large or small, every branch has the same origin and the same root as the stem. Therefore, whether a person be holy or wicked, wise or foolish, he has in his innermost spirit the same essence and the same power that the wise have. Murshid shows grace and encourages our effort when he further states: There is no reason for anyone to feel discouraged by his weaknesses or deficiencies, or by his actions that have dissatisfied him, or by anything in life that has failed. He should forget the past that has failed him, and begin to construct and mold his future as he would wish it to be, considering that as a branch is not separate from the bough, and the bough is not separate from the stem, so with all our limitations we are not separate from the will of the Unlimited One. Murhsid takes us deeper as he invites us to question: But if our individual will is a branch of the divine will, if its source is the same, how can it ever be out of harmony? Sometimes the hand sympathizes with the foot, at other times it does not. We hurt ourselves many times just because of disharmony; we may cut ourselves, our fingers for instance. If then, I, who am one person, can cause harm to myself, and suffer thereby, why should it not be possible that the human will should be out of harmony with the divine, so that the divine suffers thereby? It is possible to act in a way contrary to the divine will, even though one is only a branch of it? In a fountain there is a big stream which flows up and then breaks into many drops. The stream is like the divine will, and the different drops like the wills in us. One drop goes higher, another lower, one falls to the left, another to the right, one goes north, another south. But the source of all this activity is one; it is one thing that turns into so many, scattering in all directions. Thus from unity there has come variety. Now we may ask, if I am capable of acting either with or against divine will, how is it that I align myself with divine will? Murshid teaches that to align with divine will we must cultivate patience, harmony, contentment & resignation. Furthermore, he strongly cautions us to refrain from partaking of the evil of another by directly stating: Do not partake of the evil of another. If you are quiet and calm, your calmness and quietness will have a greater effect on the other than his anger, so that true resistance is practice of contentment. Patience is the best quality that man can cultivate. We are always apt to become excited or annoyed when another person does not understand us. Why get excited if he cannot understand us? If a person is foolish or cannot do things right, by becoming excited we make him still more foolish, still more stupid. We cannot help him in that way, and we partake of his quality by allowing ourselves to oppose him. If we kept our mind tranquil, if we had patience, we should keep in harmony. Harmony is the greatest thing to learn in life. All the disagreement between couples, friends, people in business and in politics, comes from lack of patience. If we just had patience and contentment, we could teach ourselves much better. Contentment teaches resignation. Murshid suggests that we take our beliefs with a grain of salt, so to speak, as he invites us to question why we believe that what we think is right, and that no one can be right who thinks otherwise? We should remember that another person does not see as we see, because each one sees only a reflection of the highest ego that works in man though he is unconscious of it. To him it is right, but to the other it need not appear right. It is only right for that one person, for that one moment; later it may not appear so. The limited being cannot claim the perception of the unlimited, thus we cannot regard our own will as being the universal will unless our will is in harmony with the will of God. We should therefore practice harmonizing our will with that of our fellow men, by tolerance, patience, endurance, because in this world every ego is working for itself, however near or dear another may be. Everyone thinks, "What can I make another person do for me?" He wants everybody to be in harmony with his way of life. That is why Page 17 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
there is a world full of rebellion, like the thorns in the rose bush. It may seem a great sacrifice and torment to practice patience, but it is the only way to get out of the whirlpool; it is the only way that one can conquer life's difficulties. If anybody has ever conquered, he has only done so by this means; never by the means of resistance, but always by the way of resignation. Murshid continues: One thinks one can develop will power by fighting, but that is not so, because by fighting we make very little progress; by fighting with ourselves we progress a hundred times more. Our greatest enemy is our self. All weakness, all ignorance keeps us from the truth of our being, from all the virtues hidden in us and all perfection hidden in our souls. The first self we realize is the false self. Unless the soul is born again it will not see the kingdom of heaven. The soul is first born into the false self, it is blind. In the true self the soul opens its eyes. Unless the false self is fought with, the true self cannot be realized. Therefore endurance is necessary, patience is necessary. If only we could fight with ourselves so that we became able to give pleasure to others! Sages are as harmonious with a pious person as with a wicked one, as harmonious with a wise man as with a foolish man, with a rich as with a poor man. We feel friendly towards some, not towards others; we get on well with some, but with others there is always disharmony while with others again everyone feels peaceful and happy. Murshid teaches: The lions could not harm Daniel because of the harmony of his will with the universal will. The lions represent the destructive elements in the human mind. They represent wars, disappointments, rivalries, jealousies, envy, passions, and so forth, in different horrible guises. Our ego is the lion of lions, and if this is conquered, then these external lions, the different egos around us, are conquered also, and wherever we go, with anyone, whether foolish or wise, good or bad, we now have peace. Murshid declares: To learn the lesson of how to live is more important than any psychic or occult learning. Every day we think we have learnt the lesson, but if we had, the world would have become a heaven for us by now. We may seek the higher knowledge or the higher things, but the very smallest thing, the control of all the creatures of the mind, which seems as nothing compared with the higher knowledge, once learnt and acted upon is greater than all. This is a great step; yet how difficult to gain this, how reasonless it seems! But when we pause to think of the difference between ourselves and animals, we see the greatness in this simple thing of yielding the will. Murshi further states: Man's selfishness shows itself in wanting to get the better of his fellow man. If we developed humanity we should do differently. We should not be satisfied with a slice of bread if there were another in need, but as it is, it happens that even when we are fed ourselves, we do not wish anyone else to share the food. The human heart can only be really satisfied by knowing that the other person is happy. True pleasure lies in the sharing of joy with another. From the day that we realize this we begin to act as human beings; hitherto we have not done so even though we have human forms. Murshid continues with an inspiring example and a promise of smoother roads ahead if we can heed his advice. He states: Sages have always repented of all things that make them animal. It is human beings that repent; the animals are pleased with everything that they do. The Bible says, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." This has to be done all day long. Once one has realized it, the kingdom of God is at hand. The sinner can become righteous at any moment if he makes up his mind; the difficulty is to make it up. The next thing is to carry it out. Revolutions and harmony, war and peace, are all parts of a whole being. But contentment and perfect resignation open up a harmonious feeling and bring the divine will into harmony with our own. Our blessing now becomes a divine blessing, our words divine words, our atmosphere a divine atmosphere, although we seem to be limited beings; for our will becomes absorbed into the whole, and Page 18 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
so our will becomes the will of God. Beloved ones of God, as Murshid directs, let us use our personal will towards fighting the true holy war, the war within to subdue the aspects of our nature leading to disharmony and misalignment with divine will. Diligently work towards cultivating the qualities of patience, harmony, resignation and contentment so “your will becomes absorbed into the whole and becomes the will of God.” Stand firm in the divine roots that anchor you to the earth; expand your branches vast and wide so that in your life you may realize, “Thy will be done, thy Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven”.
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Opening the “Word” of God By Karim Each sensible thing has a created Spirit by which its form is constituted. As Spirit of that form, it is related to the form as a meaning is related to a word… (Abd al-Karim Jili, quoted in Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi, Henri Corbin; Bollingen Series XCI, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, USA, 1997, pp244-5)
What does it mean, ‘to know a Name’, better yet, to become a Name in the sense of “The Names of God?” In the simplest of terms it indicates that one ‘opens’ that Name from the inside as it were, not merely to understand it from its ‘outer form’, its form in the world, nor yet to enter it in some ‘other realm’ where it belongs to God. Rather it means to find oneself within the ‘Name’ such that it expands (explodes would be a better way of expressing it) within oneself, within this world of ‘forms’ – in this case, one’s own form. This, then, allows ‘the Word’ to become manifest in its true meaning. Until this point, words of this magnitude, and their comprehension, are not much better than semantic exercises, valuable in that they may still guide one’s behaviour in the world, but insufficient in themselves to transform the being in the moment of Creation which is ever now. Such an act is a sympathetic union of ‘lover’ and ‘beloved’ in that “I was a hidden jewel who wished to be known… .” But who is this “hidden jewel,” and whom “the knower?” According to Ibn ‘Arabi, …All these [unlimited] Names refer to one and the same Named One. But each of them [also] refers Page 20 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
to an essential determination, different from all the rest; [and] it is by this individualisation that each Name refers to the God who reveals himself to and by the theophanic Imagination… [and it is only in and through this theophanic Imagination] …that the Divine Being reveals Himself to us [in these configurations]…which gives an effective reality to these divine Names…whose sadness yearned for concrete beings in whom to invest their activity. (Ibid, pp191-2) …he who is the servant of a divine Name is the shadow of that Name, his soul is its epiphanic form (mazhar). But in recognising that this is so the servant does not negate his own existence. There is indeed a hadith [saying of the Prophet] concerning the servant who never ceases to move closer to his Lord; his Lord says of him: “I am his hearing by which he hears, his eyesight by which he sees…”. This servant does not become what he was not; what happens is that the “Luminous shadow” becomes increasingly transparent…’ (Ibid, p193). I have often pondered what was meant by Ibn ‘Arabi’s statements concerning one who knew the Names [themselves] ‘becoming a Koran (Qur ‘an)’. Henri Corbin states this boldly, thus: ‘To be a “Koran” is to have achieved the state of the Perfect Man [Insan-i-kamil] to whom the totality of the divine Names and Attributes are epiphanised and who is conscious of the essential unity of divinity-humanity or Creator-creature…’
But there is another factor present here, and – as Corbin states – ‘[this Perfect Man] …at the same time, … discriminates between the two modes of existentiation encompassed in the essential unity; by virtue of which he is the vassal without whom his Lord would not be, but also by virtue of which he himself would be nothing without his Lord.’ (Ibid, pp211-2). Page 21 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
In the simplest of terms, one may gain a taste of this process by what has already been spoken of previously, that of ‘opening the Word (of God)’ from the inside, as it were. The ‘Word’ in this case is covered by/in the meaning of the “Names of God’. Thus, to ‘become a Koran’ is to reflect the Names from the inside, in the ‘mirror of the heart. To do this is to die in the moment to what one is – fana – that is that the ego ceases to be the determining factor of one’s life at that point. One “becomes” one with that which explodes in the self, that Creative Power that gives rise to all. With this comes an awareness of Presence, not as something separate from one’s self, but as oneself/in oneself. Only through such an awakened discriminating awareness can such an understanding be given/shared, which was always something intended by God in relation to His creation eg. …the Divine Being reveals Himself to us [in these configurations]…which gives an effective reality to these divine Names…whose sadness yearned for concrete beings in whom to invest their activity. In Islam it is recognised that the Prophet was – at different times – both the voice (or pen) of God and at other times a man like unto others. He was one who had both done the work required (polishing his heart such that it was capable of reflecting clearly the words of God as they descended upon him) and as one who had been specifically chosen by God for this purpose (prophethood). At those times when God’s ‘words’ descended upon him, he entered an altered state (remarked upon by those who witnessed these moments). The Koran did not, however, descend upon him all at once. In fact it was ‘written’ on his heart over a period of something like twenty or so years. What then of those times when God was not using His ‘pen’ (the Prophet), as a reflector of His Divine Revelation to the world? What then? Here we have it. The life as lived by the man whilst inspired in that his reflection of the Divine Word changed his being in this world during these utterances, was still ever a man (whatever may be claimed to the contrary by some). Unlike Christianity, which – to account for something similar in the being of their own prophet – declared him to be the Son of God, Islam allowed their own prophet to be a man. Indeed this is spelled out clearly in the Koran, and we can witness it again in the division between the God-inspire Koran, the hadith Qudsa [God-inspired sayings], and the other ‘sayings’ and ‘ways’ of the Prophet known as the ‘hadith’ and the ‘sunnah’ respectively. The above discussion, therefore, leaves open the “relative” nature of the ‘truthful life’ as opposed to the “absolutist” nature of some of the earlier traditions and the divisions some like to place between the ‘Enlightened’, and other, mere mortal, folk! The relativity of ‘truth,’ in relation to the various ‘Stages on the Path’ as shown through and in this “reflectability” of ‘the Names’ of God within the human heart, lead us then to a potentiality of infinite manifestation of these same Names such that the world is full/filled with both colour and complexity, beauty and variety, where no one person at all times and in all places is the receptacle of “all Truth”, no matter how ‘enlightened’ they may be. What takes the place of this here-to-for picture of “Perfection,” then, lies at the heart of this discussion: it is the relativity of each one of us’ attempts to ‘Imagine’ into existence what we see reflected in our ‘heart of hearts’. And it is this “Image” that can be said to exist for us - as our own unique vision of God – our individual unique response to the call of the Prophet to “worship God as if [we see] Him”, if you will, as indeed we do if we reflect closely enough on this hadith! No one, however, owns this image, and no one’s image is other than their own. Likewise no-one gets the total picture, for God is always beyond anything that we might say, think or experience Him to be. However, there is something more to be said here. What is claimed in the distinction of the title ‘Insan-ikamil’ or Perfect Man is not that Muhammad was without blemish (unlike the Christ figure of Christianity Page 22 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
who they raised to the same status as God) but that – at those times that he (the Prophet) was called upon to ‘listen and write/recite’ –he did so, and such was the purity of his heart at these times that the reflection of that received in his ‘heart of hearts’ was clear and unambiguously the Voice of the One (without a second). These ‘Words’ were the ones spoken within him such that – at those times – he was transformed/transported by them. Such a ‘mirror’ is rare indeed.
That all human beings have this capacity, to a greater or lesser extent, extant within them, however latent, lies at the heart of this discussion. The key to this kind of awakening lies in the polishing and in the belief that it is so. What it means therefore “to become a Koran” is to recognise what is involved here. That is, to open the “Names of God” from the inside such that their inner ‘voice’ is heard, not merely as words with meaning, but as actions, experiences that explode within us in the very act of opening, the very stuff of “creation in the moment”. We are not. The Word is. This is what is meant by this saying. Not shades of grey, nor yet black and/or white, but all and everything at once whilst at the same time being utterly unique and specific for the one who thus awakens to it. Our own teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan, used to say that one must be able to see the good in the bad and the bad in the good. In relation to this idea of the totally unique nature of this ‘opening of the Word’, it shows us that this ‘relativism’ of the human understanding is on the side of the manifested, not that which is from the un-manifested, which remains always the One which –of its own nature of All Goodness - leaves nothing out. It is our comprehension, our very ‘creatureliness,’ indeed, that limits the completeness of this understanding, or opening-up, of ‘the Word.’ It is we ourselves who place limits on this “awakening”. We can only receive according to our capacity to see, and it is this limiting factor which may be then understood in this way, for the bad in the good is this interposing of the [limited] self between the ‘Word’ and the inner self or ‘mirror of the heart’ that limits our comprehension of this mystery. Likewise, the good in the bad, in this instance, may be seen as that spark within this very self, seeking to comprehend that which moves it towards the source of All in the first place. Page 23 Spirit Matters Volume 22 Issue 4 December 2018
Review by Carole Voss of The Witch as Teacher in Fairy Tales www.goodreads.com
This beautiful treasure “The Witch as Teacher in Fairy Tales” by Nuria Daly seems sprung from the heart of wisdom herself. Importantly it is a lovely resource for lovers of Baba Yaga, The Frog Princess and The Fairy of the Dawn! The author explores many hidden mysteries embedded in these stories and others that reach into the language of the region of the heart. It’s a responsible and serious fusion of Ancient folk cultures, Esoteric mysticism, Alchemy, Sufism and Jungian psychology with an endearing and uplifting perspective about the Witch Archetype. Importantly there is a prompt in understanding the subtle differences and yet unique spiritual journey for women. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is on the soul’s journey, story tellers who would like the opportunity to gain greater depth into the stories they may tell and anyone who studies about or feels an intimate connection to the mysterious divine feminine.
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Newsletter of the Sufi Movement in Australia