Contents Letter from Nuria
Gratitude. Quotes from various sources.
The Privilege of Being Human by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Excerpt from Essential Sufism
Mathnawi 1, 2447 There is no doubt that you must seek your treasure. But as you search, rememberâ€” Ideas and opinions are cultivated things, And treasures are not found in cultivated spots. Wherever and whatever it is, your treasure Lies buried in bewilderment. Rumi Contributed by Ananda. Page 2 Spirit Matters Volume 20 Issue 1 March 2016
Beloved Sisters and Brothers Autumn 2016
On Gratitude There is so much to be grateful for, and one of them is this newsletter, and that Yaqin has now taken on the task of publishing it for us. Many have told me how happy they are about this. The world is changing and so are we! The new Spirit Matters will reflect this world in many ways I hope. Once we stopped printing Spirit Matters and published mostly online, it became something different. Many people did not read it anymore as it was not really easy to read off a screen and lengthy and expensive to print. The articles were too long for a start. So hopefully this shorter version will be better for everyone and it will be easier and quicker to print if you want to. In working with my fairy tale book, I am realising how much I have been given and learned from my Sufi teachers – Murshid Hidayat and Murshid Nawab and of course our beloved Master Hazrat Inayat Khan. Connecting to the inner flow of the Message has been extraordinary and I am so very grateful for that too. It has made me who I am without realising it. It is only in looking back that we see how life has unfolded for us in such a marvellous way. Finally I am grateful for our Sufi community, which really functions as our spiritual family. The weekly meetings of sharing our being, open to whatever teachings come our way are gentle and support our journey. After a break, like at Christmas, I am always ready and looking forward to our New Year unfolding. This year we are hoping to work more with the Mysticism of Sound and Music. This year as you can see our Winter Retreat will be on ‘The Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty’, starting with the question of what is Perfection? These retreats are a wonderful way of being together in a place of Love, Harmony and Beauty, where we can just be ourselves on the Path of Enlightenment. Hopefully I will see many of you at the retreat. Happy Chinese Year of the Monkey. Love, Nuria National Representative Sufi Movement in Australia
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Editorial I was inspired recently by a short book of essays entitled Gratitude by Oliver Sacks in which he looks back over his life, with the knowledge that his death is imminent, and he faces the end with grace and fortitude. In January 2015 he received the news that a rare form of melanoma had metastasized to his liver. Within days of the diagnosis, he began writing “My Own Life,” in which he expressed an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. A quote that I particularly like is “I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” In his last essay entitled “Sabbath” written two weeks before his death he expressed the following sentiment, “I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself.” I feel enormously fortunate in my life. Having survived a near fatal motor vehicle accident six years ago I am very thankful to be alive, and to feel loved by my wife and family. I am very grateful to still be enjoying excellent health and to be able to continue to engage in what Buddhists say is “right livelihood” and to be of service to others in my day job and still have the opportunity to express myself artistically in my spare time. My thoughts inevitably have returned to Safa and the last weeks of her life when the pancreatic cancer took hold, and the bravery with which she faced her last days, and the serenity on her face at the very end, belying the pain and suffering she endured prior to that. I have felt inspired to continue with Spirit Matters as a way of honouring the work that she did to publish a Sufi newsletter and inspire people with the Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan. I remember helping Safa create the early editions of Spirit Matters around twenty years ago in Canberra, creating ink drawings and pasting up the hard way. Little could we have imagined then that the newsletter would evolve into an online edition that could be read on a phone or tablet. Many thanks to Sakina for all her hard work in keeping Spirit Matters going and to everyone who has contributed articles over the years. I hope that you continue to enjoy reading Spirit Matters and please feel free to email contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org Loving regards, Yaqin
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If the only prayer you said in your whole life was â€˜thank youâ€™ that would suffice. Meister Eckhart Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can. Dalai Lama XIV
Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.
Gratitude is the sign of noble souls. Aesop
Rumi Thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.
Gratitude to gratitude always gives birth.
Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. Kahlil Gibran A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. Buddha
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The Privilege of Being Human by Hazrat Inayat Khan Mankind is so absorbed in life's pleasures and pains that man hardly has a moment to think what privilege it is to be human. Life in the world contains, no doubt, more pain than pleasure and that which one considers as pleasure costs so much that when it is weighed against the pain that it costs, it also becomes pain, and as man is so absorbed in his worldly life he traces nothing but pain and complaint in life, and until he changes his outlook man cannot understand the privilege of being human. Yet, however unhappy a person may be in life, if he were asked, "would you prefer to be a rock than a human being," his answer would be that he would rather suffer being a human being than be a rock. Whatever the condition of man's life, if he were asked, "would you rather be a tree than a man," he would choose rather to be a human being. And, although, the life of the birds and beasts is so free from care and troubles and so free in the forests, yet, if man were asked whether he would prefer to be one of them and be in the forest, he would surely prefer to be a man. This shows that when human life is compared with other different aspects of life then it shows its greatness and its privilege, but when it is not compared with other life then man is discontented and his eyes are closed to the privilege of being human. Another thing is that man is mostly selfish and what interests him is that which concerns his own life, and not knowing the troubles of the lives of others, he feels the burden of his own life even more than the burden of the whole world. If one could only think in his poverty that there are others, who are poorer than he; in his illness that there are others whose sufferings are perhaps greater than his; in his troubles that there are others whose difficulties are perhaps greater than his. Self-pity is the worst poverty. It overwhelms man and he sees nothing but his own troubles and pains and it seems to him that he is the most unhappy person - more than anyone in the world. There is a story of a great thinker of Persia, Sa'adi. He writes in the account of his life, "Once I had no shoes and I had to walk in the hot sand barefoot and I thought how very miserable I was; then I met a man who was lame, for whom to walk it was very difficult. I bowed down at once to Heaven and offered thanks that I was much better off than he, who had not even feet to walk upon." This shows that it is not the situation in life, but it is man's attitude toward life, that makes him happy or unhappy. And this attitude can even make such a difference between men that one in a palace would be unhappy and another in a humble cottage, could be very happy. The difference is only in the horizon that one sees. There is one person who looks only at the condition of his life; there is another who looks at the lives of many people - it is the difference that the horizon makes. Besides this, it is the impulse that comes from within that has its influence on one's affairs. If there is an influence from within always Page 7 Spirit Matters Volume 20 Issue 1 March 2016
working, if there is discontent and dissatisfaction in life, one finds its effect in one's affairs in life. For instance, a person impressed by an illness can never be cured by a physician or medicines. A person impressed by poverty will never get on in life. A person who thinks, everybody is against me and everybody troubles me and everybody has a poor opinion of me, wherever he goes will always find it so. There are many people in the world, in business, in professions, who, before they go to their work, have as a first thought in their mind, "perhaps I shall not be successful." The masters of humanity, in whatever period they came to the world, always taught man to learn as his first lesson, faith; faith in success, faith in love, faith in kindness, and faith in God. And this faith cannot be developed unless man be self-confident. It is very essential that man should learn to trust another. If he does not trust anyone, life will be hard for him. If he doubts, if he suspects everyone he meets, then he will not trust the people nearest to him in the world, his closest relations, and it will soon develop to such a state of distrust that he will even distrust himself. But the trust of the one who trusts another and does not trust himself is profitless. Then, it is he who trusts another because he trusts himself who has the real trust, and by this trust in himself he can make his life happy in whatever condition he may be. In the tradition of the Hindus, an idea is very well known, that of the tree of the fulfilment of desires. There is a story told in India that a man was told there was a tree of the fulfilment of desires, and he went in search of it. After going through the forests and across mountains, he arrived at last in a place, where, without knowing that the tree of the fulfilment of desires was there, he laid down and slept. And before he went to sleep he was so tired that he thought, "What a good thing it would be if I had just now a soft bed to rest upon and a beautiful house with a courtyard around it and a fountain and people waiting upon me!" With this thought he went to sleep. When he opened his eyes from sleep he saw that he was lying in a fountain and there were people waiting upon him. He was very much astonished, and he remembered that before going to sleep he had thought of all this. But then, as he went further in his journey, he thought on the subject and found, "The tree that I was looking for, it was under that tree that I slept and it was the miracle of the tree which was accomplished." Now, friends, the interpretation of this legend is a philosophy in itself. It is man, himself, who is the tree of fulfilment of his desire and the root of this tree is in the heart of man. The trees and plants, with their fruit and flowers, and the beasts with their strength and power, and the birds with their wings, are unable to arrive to the stage that man can attain; it is for that that he is called man, which in Sanskrit means mind. The trees in the forest await, that blessing, that freedom, that liberation, in stillness, in quietude.
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Gratitude Excerpt from Essential Sufism edited by James Fadiman and Robert Frager. Gratitude transforms us. It opens our hearts and brings us closer to God. Unfortunately most of us are unconscious of the many blessings we receive and rarely feel gratitude. Or if we do feel gratitude, it is often extremely short-lived. I have been amazed by observing older dervishes serve one another. Even when serving a glass of water or a cup of tea, the one who is serving is attentive and grateful for the chance to serve. The dervish who is served receives whatever is served with real gratitude, as opposed to taking it for granted. This is all done quietly, with no outer show or fanfare. For months after a serious car accident, I would wake up each morning in great pain. I would look out my bedroom window into my garden and weep—with gratitude. I was alive, and this world was filled with beauty. The prophet Muhammad said, “Gratitude for the abundance you have received is the best insurance that the abundance will continue.” There is another saying, “Count your blessings.” There is more truth in it than we generally realize. Whoever is content with the gift and does not see the Giver, his heart is attentive only to the gift and neglectful of the Giver. Baba Taher Whoever does not express his gratitude to people will never be able to be grateful to God. Muhammad The Sufi is pleased with all that God does in order that God may be pleased with all that he does. Abu Sa’id Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna once shared a cucumber with Ayaz, his favourite courtier. The sultan peeled the cucumber, and then gave half of it to Ayaz with his own hand and ate the other half himself. The sultan noticed that the cucumber he was eating was as bitter as poison, but Ayaz seemed to be enjoying his half, so he asked him in surprise, “How is it that you are not even screwing up your face, when the cucumber you’re eating is so bitter? Why don't you spit it out?”
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Ayaz replied, “My dear sultan, I have enjoyed so many favours from your hands. After all that, how could the cucumber taste bitter? Would it not be ungrateful of me to spit out what you have given me now? Even if you did give me something bitter, it would taste sweet to me.” Sheikh Muzaffer A Sufi visited a foreign sheikh and asked him about real Sufism as taught in his country. The sheikh replied that, when God sent them something, they would eat it and be grateful, if not, they would practice patience. The visitor replied, “That kind of Sufism is what our dogs do at home—when they find a bone they eat it; otherwise they are patient until they are fed.” The sheikh then asked how he would define Sufism. The visitor answered, “When we have anything, we give it away, and if we have nothing, we occupy ourselves with thanks and pray for forgiveness.” Sheikh Muzaffer We are by nature astonishingly heedless and incapable of gratitude. We can spend a whole lifetime enjoying various benefits and not appreciate their value until we are deprived of them. How many lovers boldly contemplate separation, fondly imagining they have had enough of the beloved? And yet as soon as they actually experience separation, they burn up with longing. Jami Sofyan cried out in Rabia’s presence, “O God! That You might be content with me!” Rabia reproached him, saying, “Aren't you ashamed to ask God to be content with you when you are not content with God?” To this Sofyan exclaimed, “God forgive me!” Abu Makki Jafar asked Rabia when a devotee might become content with God. She replied, “When his joy in affliction equals his joy in blessing.” Abu Makki Ibn Al-Masak went to the caliph, who at the time was drinking a cup of water. The caliph requested Al-Masak to instruct him. Al-Masak said, “If you were dying with thirst and a cup of water was offered to you in exchange for your kingdom, you would gladly accept the bargain, wouldn’t you?” The caliph agreed. “Then why are you proud of a kingdom that is not worth more than a drink of water, and why aren’t you grateful to the Lord for having supplied you with so much water free?” Al-Ghazzali Page 11 Spirit Matters Volume 20 Issue 1 March 2016