Contents Message from the National Representative
Breath. Excerpts from the The Gathas of Hazrat Inayat Khan
A Personal Reflection on the Breath of God by Sue
Poetry by Kobayashi Issa and Zora
Poetry by Rabindranath Tagore and Kafia
The Witch as Teacher in Fairy Tales poster
The Centre of â€˜Allâ€™ - in the Fairy of the Dawn by Nuria
Morality in a Time of Untruth
Sydney Hejirat Retreat 2017 poster
The Dimensions of the Heart Dargah Retreat 2017 poster
Picture credits: Cover: a_migo/flickr.com Page 5: danfador/pixabay.com, geralt/pixabay.com Page 6: StockSnap/pixabay.com Pages 7 & 8: Free-Photos/pixabay.com Page 12: Kobayashi Issa - Portrait by Muramatsu Shunpo (Issa Memorial Hall, Shinano, Nagano, Japan) wikipedia.org Page 13: LoganArt/pixabay.com
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Beloved Sisters and Brothers Spring 2017 This coming spring, I find my life flowering as never before. Perhaps it has been watered by the beauty of our retreat and our practice. This has led to great peace and contentment. We all have a sense of a personal ‘Calling’; a notion that we are alive, here and now, for a particular reason. James Hillman writes about this in his book ‘The Soul’s Code: In search of Character and Calling’. He suggested that we are all answerable to an innate vision, a kind of hidden potential, which we fill out during the course of our lives. Sufis would say it is our purpose in life and we must all find our purpose, but it is also a way of being. The soul, Hillman said, selects the pattern that we live out before we are born. We carry within us an image which guides us, prods us, helps us to remember what we are here for. I feel that I have been guided to my purpose, so that I can now feel this powerful sense of peace and contentment. I remember my first teacher, the leader of our Sufi group in Melbourne, used to say that we must listen to ‘the hint of the Shaikh’ and follow this wherever it leads. A Teacher will never tell you what to do, but will give hints and suggestions. They should be ‘caught’! So once again I have to thank Nawab for his hints and suggestions, which led to the writing of my book, and to my blog also. He just ‘thought’ that I might find more to write about after my book came out! I didn’t think so, but did as he ‘suggested’. So now through writing my blog, I have delved ever deeper into the fairy tales, and actually found the sacred Centre of All in the stories . It has been another amazing journey. Life is also our Teacher, so listen to the hints that life gives you. Synchronicity, when it happens, shows that we are in tune with our purpose, and this can guide us, knowing we are on the right path. It is like the voice of God. Part of our practice is pranayama – the breath of life. This breath carries the sacred energy of life and light, and is, to me at any rate, the most powerful practice of all. Breath practice leads to inner knowledge and understanding. So to those of us who are guided to our Sufi path, or whatever path we have found, I can only say, may you find happiness, contentment, peace and love, within it. With love, Nuria National Representative Sufi Movement in Australia
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Editorial I have been pondering the power of breath more and more lately as I have been doing my daily practices. It seems that breath carries us deeper and deeper into a mystical world and as Hazrat Inayat Khan says in The Gathas: Breath is the medium between the outer life and the inner life. By the help of breath the elements necessary for the body can be attracted and by the help of breath thoughts and inspiration can be gained. By the help of breath all that is undesirable in the body and mind can be expelled. The secret of telepathy, of reading thought, has the science of breath as its mystery. When one wishes to draw from within inspiration, breath is the key. Breath is a life-current; its value is known to so few! Breath in itself is a phenomenon, but the phenomenon becomes manifest when once the breath is fully mastered. It seems to me that the breathing practices become more and more enjoyable the more I do them, and with every passing year I am able to delve deeper into the bliss and peace of the practices when I surrender more deeply to them. Their power is revealed over time and with continual practice. Hazrat Inayat Khan reminds us that the breathing practices need to be performed daily: To live a fuller life the wise in all religions have taken the breath in hand and awakened atoms and centres, which are instruments for those faculties. As soon as breath touches those centres it makes them vibrate and then they do their work. Therefore breathing exercises given to a mureed are like the winding of a clock. Once in twenty four hours the clock is wound and after that it goes on without effort. In the Mystery of Breath he further states: It is no exaggeration that the whole phenomenon of life has breath as its mystery, and once the knowledge of breath is attained and breath is mastered by practice, one beholds a most wonderful phenomenon within and without. There are many who remain sceptical till they have fathomed the mystery of breath. Once they know it, they call it, as Hindus have called it for ages, Breath-Life. I hope that this issue of Spirit Matters fills you with the breath of the Divine! Yaqin
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Excerpts from the The Gathas of Hazrat Inayat Khan The importance of breath is only now becoming known to the scientific world, and there is much of this mystical subject which is unexplored. But mysticism has been founded on the science of breath. There is no mystic, whether Buddhist, Vedantist, or Sufi, who makes use of another process than that of the breath. Breath is the first lesson and it is also the last. Breath in the Sufic term is called Nafas. The breath spreads through the whole body like a tree, and its stem is felt by man, and it is this stem which man in his everyday language calls breath. All the branches of this tree the mystic calls by different names. A mystic sees the whole body as a plant of the breath. Therefore in the Sanskrit language breath is called prana, which means the very life. It spreads life and magnetism in all parts of the body, for breath in itself is life, and is magnetism.
The air taken in and sent out that one feels through the nostrils or lungs are what we ordinarily call breath. In reality, however, that is as the stem of a tree whose branches are many. According to the physician the lungs are the channel of the breath, but to the mystic the lungs are the branches of the tree, and other branches reach all parts of the body. This tree has a root in the body, and has centres where the branches meet the stem. There are five such centres in the body of man. The breath has its particular work in every centre. By the study of mysticism one finds that man's life depends upon Page 5 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 3 September 2017
the working of the centres. Generally the centres are blocked up on the inner side of the body. Therefore they give but a dim light, if the breath be pictured as a gas and centres as lanterns. When the centres are not in a fit condition they are wasted; not only this, but man is deprived of the full experience of life. Powers that are considered supernatural become natural when man leads a natural life. The first lesson of a natural life is right breathing. Many people breathe a half breath, many a quarter and many still less. Many diseases such as lung diseases, and nervous diseases, can be avoided by right breathing. Breath is a channel through which all the expression of the innermost life can be given. Breath is an electric current that runs between the everlasting life and the mortal frame. The breath makes a circuit through the body, and the channel through which it makes the circuit is the spine. The mystics give this channel great importance; they call it the serpent. They picture it as a serpent holding its tail in its mouth. In almost all symbols the serpent
represents the channel of the breath. In the terms of the yogis it is called kundalini. When this channel is made clear by the method of breathing then this is not only a help to the physical health but it also opens up the faculties of intuition and the doors that are within, where lies the real happiness of man. In order to clear this channel of all that blocks the way one must follow the rules of mystical ablutions and of rhythmic breathing. People who cannot understand the subject and who hear and read things by halves say that some chakras, centres, are opened by breathing exercises and many kinds of distress may be the consequence. But looking at it from another point of view, one might as well say that the eyes of a child should never be opened, because he will thereby be exposed to temptations of all sorts. All virtue is in self-control; there is no virtue in being dead. Life is worthwhile only when a person leads it fully. People look for phenomena, but there is no better phenomena that breath itself, because breath is life and light, and in the breath is the source of life and light. In the mastery of breath the secret of both worlds is hidden. Page 6 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 3 September 2017
Breath is likened to water. The flowing of the breath is like the flowing of a stream. Inhalation and exhalation show ebb and flow. Parts of the earth which water does not touch remain barren; so the centres in the body, with all their intuitive, innate capacities, remain unproductive if the breath does not reach them. Besides various diseases, in spite of all their apparent causes, often have one principal cause, and that is the lack of free flow of the breath. Many operations could be avoided and several diseases could be cured by the knowledge of the phenomena of breath. The Hindu sacred rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, are outward symbols of Jalal and Jamal, the two directions of the flow of the breath. And the place where they meet is called Sangam, the meeting or unity, which is considered most sacred by the Hindus. That Sangam is the meeting of these two opposite flows. It is like the meeting of the two directions in the centre, which is called Kamal by the Sufis.
The water rises, passes, falls, and runs zigzag, and stands if held. So is breath. Every above-said action of breath has a meaning and has a peculiar effect, as even water varies in its power and magnetism while going through the above-said directions. Water is a tonic, and breath is life itself. No tonic can be greater and better than breath. A spiritually evolved person's presence, therefore, brings about a cure in cases where all remedies fail. Water is the necessity of life, and breath the only condition for living. Without it life is impossible. Water falls as a rain from above; so breath is from above also, though from another dimension. Water rises as vapours; so breath rises with gases, also with joys or depressions. Pure water is health-giving, pure breath gives life. Water partakes of all things mixing with it; so does breath.
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Breath is the medium between the outer life and the inner life. By the help of breath the elements necessary for the body can be attracted and by the help of breath thoughts and inspiration can be gained. By the help of breath all that is undesirable in the body and mind can be expelled. The secret of telepathy, of reading the thought, has the science of breath as its mystery. When one wishes to draw from within inspiration, breath is the key. Breath is a life-current; its value is known to so few! Breath in itself is a phenomenon, but the phenomenon becomes manifest when once the breath is fully mastered. Breath is termed by Sufis kasif and latif; kasif means dense and latif means fine. Dense breath is that which is noisy and laboured, which strains the nerves and lungs. The exercises of dense breath are useful for developing the muscles and for gaining control over the nerves; they are helpful also to the lungs and useful to the physical health. But in spiritual development unless the breath is made fine it cannot penetrate through the important centres in the body and it cannot reach far enough into the innermost parts of oneâ€™s life.
Breath, to a Sufi, is a bridge between himself and God; it is a rope for him, hanging down to earth, attached to the heavens. The Sufi climbs up by the help of this rope. In the Quranic language it is called Buraq, a steed which was sent to the Prophet for his journey to the heavens. Hindus call it prana, which means life, but they picture is symbolically as a bird which is named in Sanskrit, Garuda, on which rode Narayana, the godhead. There is no mystical cult in which the breath is not given the greatest importance in spiritual progress. Once man has touched the depths of his own being by the help of the breath then it becomes easy for him to become at one with all that exists on earth and in heaven. Breath is the mystery; in it is hidden the secret of life. Breath proves the existence of the life unseen. Breath is audible, at the same time inaudible. Breath is visible and at the Page 8 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 3 September 2017
same time invisible. It is a certain degree of the activity of the breath and the capacity through which it is acting which makes the breath audible. This shows that there exists something of which we are conscious, the source of which no one knows, which is active every moment of the day, on the model of which the mechanism of nature and art is made. Man’s true self is the part of his being which knows itself to exist, which is conscious of itself. When that self takes breath as its vehicle instead of the body then it soars upward toward the utmost heights, toward that goal which is the source and origin of all beings. Breath is audible and visible, and when a spiritual person, by spiritual exercise, strengthens and purifies the breath, it becomes more intelligible, as a light and a sound. Life and light, in truth, are one; the breath is the life, and it is the same breath which is light. Breath in fact is the light of all senses; the senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch perceive all things by the light of the breath. Breath in reality is light; but when it shoots forth is rays, according to the direction of the rays and the capacity which takes this light, the colours manifest. Form and colour both depend upon the direction the light takes and upon the degree of light. Nothing on earth is meaningless; every occurrence has its meaning and every moment has its purpose. Most often people think that its the external senses being tired or exhausted that prevents their thinking, but in reality is the absence of right breathing, for right breathing can make the mental faculties clearer and the outer organs of the senses more capable of perceiving. This shows that the mind can live a fuller life by what I call full breath. For a Sufi, therefore, breath is a key to concentration. The Sufi, so to speak, covers his thought under the breath. This expression of Rumi’s I would interpret that the Sufi lays his beloved ideal in the swing of the breath. I remember my murshid’s saying that every breath, which is inhaled with the consciousness of the Divine Beloved, is the only gain and every breath inhaled without this consciousness is the only loss there is. Yogis, who rise above the thoughts and feelings of those around them, attain power by the control of the breath. So the method of the inner cult of Sufis also depends upon the science of breath. Knowledge of another person’s pleasure or displeasure, the message of affection, the warning of hostility, all are received by the way of the breath.
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The one who is conscious of the rhythm of breath and whose breath is pure from grossness, begins to perceive a sense, which becomes in time a language to him. The rhythmic breath helps the mind to be clear. Breath breaks the congestion, which in the head produces confusion, and in the heart depression, which covers the thoughts of others from one’s perception, even from one’s own intuition. A thought is better conveyed to another through breath than by speech, for a feeling put into words becomes half-dead. For a Sufi it is desirable to be conscious of every breath. In the schools of the Sufis in the East the members of a certain association take up as their duty to remind the whole assembly of the same. So one after another, in turn, takes it up as a duty. They call aloud “Hosh bar dam” meaning “Keep conscious of the breath”, “Nazar bar qadam”; this sentence is added when the Sufis are walking, and means, “Look down and see whose feet are these that are walking”.
One who masters breath becomes invigorated and strengthened in his mind, becomes quiet and peaceful and achieves self-control. In the cobra there is a far-reaching breath. So is the breath of the mystic. The mystic’s breath is not what is called deep breathing. His is the breath reaching inmost, which touches every plane of his being. Page 10 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 3 September 2017
A Personal Reflection on “The Breath of God” by Sue
As an asthmatic, breathing is something that has concerned me my whole life, and the factors for asthma for me have been many. To feel happy and healthy one day, then be hospitalised the next has taught me how vulnerable to the elements one can be, and has humbled me to realise that we are never in control of our environment; at other times, I have observed times of anxiety and emotionalism contribute to my poor breathing and ill health. Having practised breathing practices over many years I had hoped to eliminate my asthma. But breathing practices are designed to do more than just remove ‘ill health’ They should help to facilitate truly GOOD health – physical, mental and spiritual. Hazrat Inayat Khan and many mystics and yogis have expressed profound teachings about breath. Without any such profound or illuminated thoughts, I nevertheless wondered how I could learn something more. After a few days wondering about this, I found myself singing a hymn that must have been buried in my subconscious. Many people will know the hymn of which I have written only a part: Breathe on me Breath of God Fill me with life anew, That I may love the way you love And do what thou wouldst do Breathe on me Breath of God Until my heart is pure, Until my will is one with Yours To do and to endure So that led me to question “What is The Breath of God”? Apart from the obvious response, that without breath we have no life, what else? This week, I had been doing a breathing practice that Nuria introduced us to recently, a short routine in lieu of “The Element Purification Breath”. In this practice one breathes in ‘light and life’ and breathes out or reflects ‘life and light’. It involves at times breathing in / or out though the nose / mouth as done in the Element Purification Breath. It felt to me that the ‘Breath of God’ of the hymn could be that same feeling of life and light as experienced during this practice or The Element Purification Breath practice. All the elements are experienced in different aspects of life and vibrations of light change as do the elements. One may feel one’s life supported by the stabilising influence of the Page 11 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 3 September 2017
earth, feel the accommodation of water, inspiration of the fire element, freedom of the air, or peace of the ether. If we think about the possibility that it is the ‘Breath of God’ moving through our lungs and body when we do our breathing practices, it may help us to bring to our practices a more noble focus that may have a purifying effect? … something I am yet to work with. To observe even small changes in ourselves as a result of the practices and to realise that they may be physical, mental and/or spiritual changes, then we may feel we are perhaps allowing “The Breath of God” to attune us to become better instruments in His hands. Perhaps with the help of these practices, as is said in the Saum, it can help to ‘Draw us closer to Thee every moment of our life Until in us be reflected Thy Grace, Thy Glory, Thy Wisdom, Thy Joy and Thy Peace’
Breath So delicate a life line held on to hand over hand from my very first gasp Most intimate constant friend Intermediary in all my giving and taking When one day you must slip away I pray you take my soul along Zora
Between the washing bowls Of life and death All that I've uttered A waste of breath Kobayashi Issa (小林
15, 1763 – January 5, 1828)
Issa is my most favourite, tender and wonderful poet. After his life of prolific writing, often about frogs and snails, fleas and creatures who shared his little hut, when he died this last haiku was found under his pillow . Reading it always makes me shake my head and cry. See how it is with him? Always merging. At once empty and yet resonating like a clear bell. Page 12 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 3 September 2017
O SERVANT, where dost thou seek Me? Lo! I am beside thee. I am neither in temple nor in mosque: I am neither in Kaaba nor in Kailash: Neither am I in rites and ceremonies, nor in Yoga and renunciation. If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt at once see Me: thou shalt meet Me in a moment of time. Kabir says, 'O Sadhu! God is the breath of all breath.'
One Hundred Poems of Kabir
Birthing of Grace Glory Wisdom Love and Peace by Kafia Doris Airey The Silent Universe breathless She; asleep before a new birth No life, no death, no light, no dark No suns, no moons, no-thing, no earth No me, no you, no love, no one No souls, no God; not yours, not mine No air , no sound, no songs, no poems No wars, no peace, no space, no time She waits pregnant like a giant seed Inner heat immeasurably hot The embracing infinite pressure too great - She cries; too much, no more Then screams AUM --- and the breath flows out She Births the Child of Light and Love With Grace, with Glory, Wisdom, Joy and Peace She; the Universe sings once more
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The Centre of ‘All’ - in the Fairy of the Dawn by Nuria In almost all of the fairy tales I have worked with, there is a central ‘place’, where the hero or heroine is in the Divine Presence – is in unity with the Divine, and so can achieve his or her purpose. It is always a journey to the Centre. I used to imagine that I was journeying ‘down’ into myself when in meditation or contemplation: then I heard that in some religions, the spiritual is upwards. But in understanding that the journey is towards the Centre, makes perfect sense. One can be going down or up depending on where we are on the Circle. The structure of the inner realm is beautifully described in the story of the Fairy of the Dawn. The ‘world’ can be seen as an onion, with the realm of consciousness and the material manifestation being the outer layer of the onion. From here, the hero Petru, must journey to the very edge of his father, the Emperor’s, realm. This is the realm of the Heart in Sufism and it is vast. This is surrounded by a deep abyss over which there is only one bridge, guarded by a fearsome dragon. Only by overcoming the dragon, can Petru enter into the deeper, strange and mysterious realm of the ‘creative imagination’ or collective unconscious. Here the hero journeys through the copper, silver, and finally the golden woods, fighting monster welwas, along the way, and releasing them from enchantment, so that they can now help him. Having survived the woods, and come this far, Petru enters the realm of the great goddesses, first Mercury (Mittwoch, German for Wednesday) – who is the communicator between the realms, then Thunder (Donnerstag, German for Thursday) and finally Freya (Freitag, German for Friday), the great goddess of love and the guide of souls in the ‘Otherworld’. That the goddesses are given names of the week indicate, a progression of time on the journey - that the soul spends a long time in each of these realms, is a very long time in human terms. That they are given Norse names shows that this fairy tale has Norse roots and is in fact ancient and pre-Christian, even though the story is said to be Rumanian. The goddess Freya teaches Petru how to make his way to the Fairy of the Dawn, so that he can achieve his task in taking some of the water from the sacred well at the Centre. She gives him a tiny flute, so that when he plays on it, all the creatures, in the fairy realm, including the great Fairy of the Dawn herself, are asleep, so he can achieve his precious quest and so rejuvenate and revitalise the world – the realm of the Feminine. Once the hero journeys from the human realm, ever deeper towards the Centre, he finds himself in inner space – outside of time and space. These realms have been described as the astral plane, the realm of the jinns, the angelic realms (from Cherubim to Seraphim), and the archangels, with at its Centre, the Throne of God, which is surrounded by archangels. Perhaps the great Fairy of the Dawn is an archangel. The Throne of God could well be the Divine Presence. Our inner journey replicates this hero’s quest through the realms and back again. Page 15 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 3 September 2017
Morality in a Time of Untruth Presented by Zee Cheng Khor Moral Uplifting Society Inc in celebrating its 15th Anniversary of service to the Victorian community, and The Interfaith Centre of Melbourne. An inspiring and thought-provoking evening with 110 participants attending on a cold winter night in Melbourne to listen to the representatives of different faiths and philosophies presenting their precepts and responding to the scenarios of contemporary issues on intercultural marriages, volunteering, sexuality and domestic violence. The symposium began with Marion Lau OAM delivering the Acknowledgement to Country. President William Wai welcomed the participants to the newly opened (6/5/2017) Zee Cheng Khor Community Centre. Reverend Helen Summers talked about the meaning of “a Time of Untruth” and Dr Nicholas Coleman outlined the programs and reiterated the meaning of “a Time of Untruth”. The panel of speakers: Reverend Jay Robinson (Christianity), Ming Xia Ni (Confucianism), Joanne Lin (Dejiao, Moral Education), Murshida Nuria Daly (Sufism) and Sifu Morgan Buchanan (Taoism) presented the precepts of their faiths and philosophies. The participants enjoyed the vegan meal catered by the Loving Hut Restaurant, and served by a happy bunch of volunteers from the Women’s Group of Zee Cheng Khor Moral Uplifting Society. Speakers were presented with the following scenarios for response within their faiths and philosophies: Your son or daughter announces that he or she is going to marry a person from another religion or belief.
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Your son announces that he is going to Central Australia to work for eight years with an Aboriginal community without pay. In your community, the wife of a respected member confides in you that she is regularly beaten by her husband who is a pillar of the organisation. Your son or daughter tells you that he or she is gay. All speakers received a Certificate of Appreciation and souvenir to mark their contribution to the Symposium and the 15th Anniversary Celebration of Zee Cheng Khor Moral Uplifting Society.
Symposium speakers with their certificates of appreciation.
Murshida Nuria Daly spoke on behalf of the International Sufi Movement in Australia.
Nuria with President William Wai. Page 17 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 3 September 2017
Newsletter of the Sufi Movement in Australia.