Monday, June 16, 2014

Sufism Notes - 1

(Having spent about a decade (1998-2011) in a traditional Sufi Order under the guidance of a Sufi Master, I often enjoy recollecting Sufi poetry and maps related to the process of Awakening (from a general Nondual Path perspective). I'll compile a few blog posts (in no particular order) from random web sites, with some commentary or editing if needed, related to useful Sufi quotes, and accurate Sufi 'maps' of awakening common to most Sufi traditions).


A short summary:


Sufism's aim is to re-gain awareness of our direct connection to "God" and "higher knowledge". The intention is to go towards the Truth, by means of love and devotion. This is called the Tariqat, the Spiritual Path or way towards "God".This is gained often through communal ceremonies, and a variety of practices under the guidance of a teacher. The core of Sufism is to leave identification with ordinary life, in order to know God directly. And by reducing the apparent distance between man and God, man also gets closer to truth and direct knowledge. The soul is seen as an element that can stretch out from the carnal body, and pass through the divine spheres.

The Sufis believe that only by the light of the Spiritual Path and the mystic way can the Truth really be actualized. In order for one to truly witness the Perfection of the Absolute, one must see with one's inner being, which perceives the whole of Reality. This witnessing happens when one becomes perfect (or regains a knowledge of one's innate perfection), losing one's (partial) apparent existence in the Whole.

If the Whole is likened to the Ocean, and the part to a drop, the Sufi says that witnessing the Ocean with the eye of a drop is impossible. However, when the drop becomes one with the Ocean, it sees the Ocean with the eye of the Ocean.

Sufis believe that each person is a unique representative (and indeed a part of ) the Divine. The Sufis say, "If human beings knew their own inner secrets, never would they look elsewhere for seeking happiness, peace and inner light." Therefore, the essence of the Path is to find oneself. "Know thyself, know thy Lord!" is an imperative of the Sufi Way.


Techniques vary, but they have three things in common: rhythm, repetition and endurance. The actual technique can be utterance of words or phrases, singing and dancing, or just inner silence. It can in some cases involve physical pain, or acting out irregular acts. There are no hard and fast rules that the student may receive.

Purification and its Stages

Some typical stages of purification are:

1. self becoming emptied

2. self becoming illuminated

3. self becoming adorned

4. self-having-passed-away (fanaa)

These stages occur in the course of the selfless remembrance of God (zekr). The techniques and use of 'remembrance' are central to the entire Sufi path of transformation.

The first stage, becoming emptied, entails letting go of negative qualities, the desires which originate from the (egoic) self. Obstacles on the path include procrastination, idleness, and a lack of effort. Basic skills in concentration and attention are developed here.

The second stage of becoming illuminated involves polishing the heart and soul of the tarnish of belief in and attachment to the self. The student sees him/herself in full. The capacity for complete vision (of one's self), along with acceptance, are developed here.

In the third stage, one's inner being becomes adorned by Divine Attributes. Ultimately, the being of the disciple becomes completely filled by the Attributes of the Truth-Reality, to the extent that there is no sign of his own limited existence. The question of self-volition, 'practices', and 'how to live' become meaningless at this stage. The unicity of life, of which the apparent individual is just another appearance, becomes clear.

This fourth stage is called "self-having passed-away" (fanaa). The apparent individual, along with personal suffering, drops away completely.

The disciple, through these stages of purification, travels the inner way, the Spiritual Path (Tariqat). But he or she can do so only under the guidance of one who has gone before, and provided the student has the capacity and inborn will to traverse the Path. Having travelled this path, the disciple becomes a perfect being (in the sense of being attuned to the Whole), and arrives at the threshold of the Truth (Haqiqat).

One could liken the journey within the Haqiqat (Truth), to training in a divine university, the "Tavern of Ruin" (kharabat). In this true centre for higher education there are no professors, one's only guide being Absolute Love ultimately, which is a given and not developed in any way by the apparent individual. Here one's only teacher is Love (not emotional or affective, but rather as pure Being and Knowing), one's books are Love, and one's being is Love.


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