Recently I read about a woman named Antoinette Tuff. She worked at a school in Georgia; and, on August 23, 2013 she stopped a man who walked into the school with an AK-47. She talked him into laying down his gun and surrendering. No one was hurt. She said that her pastor was teaching a practice of anchoring yourself in God, of praying on the inside no matter what was going on outside. Anchoring herself deeply in her humanity, in her soul, she was able to relate to the deeply human part of the man that many would have only seen as an enemy. (Stephanie Paulsell, “Devotion in the Study of Religion” Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, Summer 2014)
How inspiring! A Sufi lives in the world, meeting all the conditions of life. May we realize how to anchor ourselves in God.
“The Teacher, however great, can never give his or her knowledge to the pupil; the pupil must create his or her own knowledge.”
Bowl of Saki, September 19, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:
“The work of a mystical Teacher is not to teach, but to tune, to tune the pupil so that the pupil may become the instrument of God. For the mystical Teacher is not the player of the instrument; the Teacher is the tuner.” from http://wahiduddin.net/mv2/X/X_2_2.htm
Some students want the Teacher to do something, to make the student “realize”, to bring about Enlightenment in the student. Of course, if what the Teacher says or does, does not fit into what the student already thinks, then it is rejected. So here, Murshid says that the Teacher’s work is not to give a belief to the student, only to tune. You are the instrument. What melody are you playing in the Divine symphony? What melody do you want to play?
Murshid writes: The awakened soul looks about and asks: ‘Who is my enemy?’ While the unawakened soul thinks that it is one’s neighbor or one’s relation who is one’s enemy, the awakened soul says, ‘It is my self; my ignorant ego is my enemy; and it is the struggle with this enemy that will bring me light and raise me from the denseness of the earth.’
I am thinking about this as I read the newspaper (yes, I still do read a paper newspaper) filled with political arguments before elections, and filled with terrible news from all over the world. Our minds are being trained to pay attention to any story that is “new.” And our capacity to think deeply and with concentration is not exercised. The media (social and otherwise) invite us to look at our neighbor, the “other” political party, the “other” nation, the “other” religion, the “other” Sufis, as the enemy. Spiritual life takes a different perspective, inviting us to know our own ignorant ego, and struggle with that. This is the first enemy I must fight.
One thing is true: although the teacher cannot give the knowledge, he or she can kindle the light if the oil is in the lamp.
Bowl of Saki, September 20, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:
“No one can give spiritual knowledge to another, for this is something that is within every heart. What the teacher can do is to kindle the light which is hidden in the heart of the disciple. If the light is not there, it is not the fault of the teacher. There is a verse by Hafiz in which he says, ‘However great be the teacher, he is helpless with the one whose heart is closed.’ …
In the center of the emblem of the Sufis there is a heart; it is the sign that from the heart a stream rises, the stream of divine knowledge.”
And so we are brought back inside. To look more deeply at how my heart is open, and how it is closed. The Teacher wants to help, but is my heart open?
“What do I mean by love? It is such a word that one cannot give one meaning. All attributes like kindness, gentleness, goodness, humbleness, mildness, fineness, are names of one and the same thing. Love therefore is that stream which when it rises, falls in the form of a fountain, and each stream coming down is a virtue.”
It is so important to bring awareness to our thoughts of love and beauty. There are so many things that we hear of every day which can elicit criticism and worry. Let us feel the fountain of love today.
“If you seek the good in every soul, you will always find it, for God is in all things; still more God is in all beings.”