Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Divert Your Course

I am rather fond of this story, it illustrates something of human nature that is important for people who wish to undertake a study of Sufism.

This is the actual radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. Radio conversation released by the chief of naval operations, 10-10-95.

CANADIANS: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.

AMERICANS: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.

CANADIANS: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.

AMERICANS: This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

CANADIANS: No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.

AMERICANS: This is the Aircraft Carrier US LINCOLN, the second largest ship in the United States Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied with three Destroyers, three Cruisers and numerous support vessels. I DEMAND that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that's one-five degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.

CANADIANS: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

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We Came Whirling

we came whirling
out of nothingness
scattering stars
like dust

the stars made a circle
and in the middle
we dance

the wheel of heaven
circles God
like a mill

if you grab a spoke
it will tear your hand off

turning and turning
it sunders
all attachment

were that wheel not in love
it would cry
"enough! how long this turning?"

every atom
turns bewildered

beggars circle tables
dogs circle carrion
the lover circles
his own heart

ashamed,
I circle shame

a ruined water wheel
whichever way I turn
is the river

if that rusty old sky
creaks to a stop
still, still I turn

and it is only God
circling Himself


Jalal al-Din Rumi, Maulana 1207-1273
from fragments, ecstacies
translation from Persian by Daniel Liebert
1981 SOURCE BOOKS, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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The Really real reason

Someone sent this to me a while back me:

Does anyone realise that Sufis do not call themselves Sufis, because that is
arrogance? When once asked "Why do you not say that you are a Sufi?" The Sufi
replied: "That would be self-assertion, and would invite attack."
This is my reply

The really real, true and accurate reason that sufis never, never, ever, under any circumstances call themselves sufis (no, really, I'm giving you the real stuff this time), is that sufis have been outlawed in every most decent Muslim country in the world, and have been, more or less ( with a few exceptions) from the time shortly after the death of the Prophet (SAWS). So, if one were to go down the street in Bagdad telling everyone that he or she is a sufi, bad things could happen. It is much better to start rumors that the most uptight reactionary members of the community are in fact sufis. It is loads of fun (and very instructive) to watch them go out of their way to prove that they are not.

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On God

The Islamic, and even more so the Sufi concept of God is a bit different than that which is held to be true by many in the west.

First, it is non anthropomorphic. We do not think of God as a very large human male (of the same race as us). God is beyond form or gender. We look at if from two views, the imminent and the transcendent. The imminent is the perceivable part of the "Divine Theophany", all of the various attributes of God which work to manifest the universe.

These attributes could, if you wished be perceived as separate "gods" if you wanted to complicate your life unnecessarily. We prefer to look at it from the view of one force manifesting itself in myriad ways that make the universe run correctly. We work with these attributes through what we call the "99 Names". Allah is the Name that contains all names.

That is to say, the term by which we think of the entirety of the reality of God as manifesting in the universe. Then there is the transcendent aspect of God, which is that part of the infinite which is beyond manifestation. For that we use a different word, but it is all a way of talking about the same Unity.

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Mansur Al Hallaj

(AD 858- 922) says about God:

"Before" does not outstrip Him,
"after" does not interrupt Him
"of" does not vie with Him for precedence
"from" does not accord with Him
"to" does not join with Him
"in" does not inhabit Him
"when" does not stop Him
"if" does not consult with Him
"over" does not overshadow Him "under" does not support Him
"opposite" does not face Him
"with" does not press Him
"behind" does not limit Him
"previous" does not display Him
"after" does not cause Him to pass away
"all" does not unite Him
"is" does not bring Him into being
"is not" does not deprive Him from Being.
Concealment does not veil Him
His pre-existence preceded time,
His being preceded non-being,
His eternity preceded limit.
If thou sayest 'when', His existing has outstripped time;
If thou sayest 'before', before is after Him;
If thou sayest 'he', 'h' and 'e' are His creation;
If thou sayest 'how', His essence is veiled from description;
If thou sayest 'where', His being preceded space;
If thou sayest 'ipseity' (ma huwa),
His ipseity (huwiwah) is apart from things. Other than He cannot
be qualified by two (opposite) qualities at
one time; yet With Him they do not create opposition.
He is hidden in His manifestation, manifest in His concealing.
He is outward and inward,
near and far; and in this respect He is
removed beyond the resemblance of creation.
He acts without contact,
instructs without meeting,
guides without pointing.
Desires do not conflict with Him,
thoughts do not mingle with Him:
His essence is without qualification (takyeef),
His action without effort (takleef).
Obtained from: Arberry, A.J., The Doctrine of the Sufis,
Publisher: Lahore, Sh Muhammad Ashraf

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Another Sufi Story

There was a man who had the illusion that he was a Teacher.

He had great charisma, so he was able to attract many students and a sharp wit so he was able to keep them. After many years of teaching he received a flash of illumination, realizing that he had been living a lie.

He was not a bad man, so he called in his second in command and explained that he, the teacher was in fact a fraud and asked what to do. His second smiled, almost radiating a subtle light and said, "why you should do nothing, three more of your students have just achieved enlightenment".

Let him who has ears, hear, and he who has eyes see, and he with a nose, blow it.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Here is an NPR article that may be interesting

It shows us some pratical memetics in action.


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The Hidden Conversation and Psychology

Since the question usually comes up right around now, this may be a good time to address the relationship between al Kalam al Batini and psychology.

It's very simple really, there isn't one.

Psychology is based on the idea of pathology, (yes I know I am simplifying) it attempts to describe aberrant behavior and to develop techniques for altering that behavior. Psychology works entirely at the level of the Nafs al Ammara. The best that psychology can ever hope for is to create situations where a behavior that is unacceptable in whatever culture the psychology is being practiced in can be changed to a behavioral habit that is more culturally acceptable. This leaves the Nafs al Ammara still completely fixated on the objects of the "Anfus", but it often gives the Nafs al Ammara a more pleasant objects to fix it on. In this manner psychology helps an individual develop a well adjusted Nafs according to the definition of that individuals culture.

Al Kalam al Batini on the other hand concerns itself with the spiritual development of the entire human being. Any seeming improvements in the behavioral patterns of the Nafs are nothing more than a pleasant and convenient side effect.

The purpose of al Kalam al Batini is to provide a map to freeing the Nafs from its state of sleep and recovering the excess energy that the Nafs requires to operate in that state of sleep for the purpose of self development.

While al Kalam al Batini produces some interesting side effects in the area of operating in the world, and while these side effects can be very useful, they should not in any way be considered in central purpose of the skills.

I hope that this clears up some of the differences between the two subjects.

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Yet another shameless plug

I just checked the Burns Sisters Band Website.

I have found out when I will be heading back East again and I am finding all the music I may be able to take in.

Well, right there on the front page is an MP3 download of a new song that they just did.

It is a cover of the Leonard Cohen song "Democracy" and it is quite good, very good in fact.

So go visit The Burns Sisters Band and download the tune, tell your friends, buy a couple of albums while you're at it, you'll be glad you did.

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THE DESCENT OF INNANA

Here is a bit of work I did a few years ago.

If you really want to understand memetics, Sumerian language, poetry and thought is an essential study in my opinion.

Here is an interesting poem/story from Sumer.


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THE DESCENT OF INNANA

(one version of the story, my own translation taken form several Sumerian and Akkadian sources. Copyright 2002 Mushtaq Ali al Ansari, all rights reserved)

To Kur-nu-gi, land of no returning,
Innana, Lady of Uruk, was determined to go;
She, The Lady of Uruk was determined to go.

To the dark house, dwelling of Erkalla's god,
To the house which those who enter cannot leave,
On the road where travelling is one-way only,
To the house where those who enter are deprived of light,
Where dust is their food, clay their bread.
They see no light, they dwell in darkness,
They are clothed like birds, with feathers.
Over the door and the bolt, dust has settled.

She has gathered together the seven Me.
She has taken them into her hands
With the Me in her possession, she has prepared herself:

Innana, when she arrived at the gate of Kur-nu-gi,
Addressed her words to the keeper of the gate,
"Here gatekeeper, open your gate for me,
Open your gate for me to come in!
If you do not open the gate for me to come in!
If you do not open the gate for me to come in,
I shall smash the door and shatter the bolt,
I shall smash the doorpost and overturn the doors,
I shall raise up the dead and they shall eat the living:
The dead shall outnumber the living!"

The gatekeeper made his voice heard and spoke,
He said to great Inanna,
"Stop, lady of Uruk, do not break it down!
Let me go and report your words to queen Ereshkigal."
The gatekeeper went in and spoke to Ereshkigal,
"Here she is, your sister Inanna
Who holds the great keppu'toy,
Who stirs up the Abzu in Ea's presence?

She has gathered together the seven Me.
She has taken them into her hands
With the Me in her possession, she has prepared herself:

On her head she wears the shugurra, the Great crown.
Across her forehead her dark locks of hair are carefully arranged.
On her ears she wears the rings of small lapis beads.
At her breast she wears the double strand of beads.
Her body is wrapped with the royal robe.
Her eyes are dabbed with the ointment called, "let him come, let him come."
Around her chest she wears the breastplate called "come, man, come."
On her wrist she wears the gold ring.
In her hand she carries the lapis measuring rod and line."

When Ereshkigal heard this,
Her face grew livid as cut tamarisk,
Her lips grew dark as the rim of a kuninu-vessel.
"What brings her to me? What has incited her against me?
Surely not because I drink water with the Anunnaki,
I eat clay for bread,I drink muddy water for beer?
I have to weep for young men forced to abandon their sweethearts.
I have to weep for girls wrenched from their lover's laps.
For the infant child I have to weep, expelled before its time.

Go,gatekeeper, open your gate to her.
Treat her asccording to the ancient rites."
The gatekeeper went.
He opened the gate to her.
"Enter, my lady: may Kutha give you joy,
May the palace of Kur-nu-gi be glad to see you"

He let her in through the first door, but stripped off and took away the great crown,
the shu-gur-ra, from her head,
"Gatekeeper, why have you taken away the great crown on my head?"
"Go in, my lady. Such are the rites of the Mistress of Earth and they are perfect."

He let her in through the second door, but stripped off and took away the rings of lapis beads for her ears.
"Gatekeeper, why have you taken away the rings of lapis beads for my ears?"
"Go in, my lady. Such are the rites of the Mistress of Earth and they are perfect."

He let her in through the third door, but stripped off and away the Double strands of beads around her neck.
"Gatekeeper, why have you taken away the double strands of beads around my neck?"
"Go in, my lady. Such are the rites of the Mistress of Earth and they are perfect."

He let her in through the fourth door, but stripped off and took away the Breastplate called "come, man, come" at her breast. "Gatekeeper, why have you taken away the breastplate at my breast?"
"Go in, my lady. Such are the rites of the Mistress of Earth and they are perfect."

He let her in through the fifth door, but stripped off (and) took away the rom her wrist the Gold Bracelet Ring.
"Gatekeeper, why have you taken the Gold bracelet ring from my wrist?"
"Go in, my lady. Such are the rites of the Mistress of Earth and they are perfect."

He let her in through the sixth door, but stripped off (and) took away from her hand the lapis measuring rod and line.
"Gatekeeper, why have you taken away the lapis measuring rod and line from my hand?"
"Go in my lady. Such are the rites of the Mistress of Earth and they are perfect."

He let her in through the seventh door, but stripped off (and) took away the Royal Robe of her body.
"Gatekeeper, why have you taken away the Royal Robe of my body?"
"Go in, my lady. Such are the rites of the Mistress of Earth and they are perfect."

Naked, Inanna went down to Kur-nu-gi,
Ereshkigal looked at her and trembled before her.
Inanna did not deliberate long, but leant over her.
Ereshkigal made her voice heard and spoke,
Addressed her words to Namtar her vizier,
"Go Namtar keeper of my Me
Send out against her sixty diseases
Give to Inanna:
Disease of the eyes to her eyes
Disease of the arms to her arms
Disease of the feet to her feet
Disease of the heart to her heart
Disease of the head to her head
To every part of her and to her Breath."

Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
She spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt.

She struck her.

Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall.

For three days she hung on the walls of Kur-nu-gi.

After Inanna, the Mistress of Teš, had gone to Ker-nu-gi
No bull mounted a cow, no donkey impregnated a jenny
No young man on the street impregnated a girl.

The young man slept in his private room,
The girl slept in the company of her friends.

Then Pap-suk-kal, vizier of the great gods, hung his head, his face became gloomy;
He wore mourning clothes, his hair unkempt.
Dejected, he went and wept before Ea his father,
His tears flowed freely before king Ea.
"Inanna has gone down to The Earth and has not come up again.
As soon as Inanna went down to Kur-nu-gi
No bull mounted a cow, no donkey impregnated a jenny,
No young man on the street impregnated a girl

The young man slept in his private room,
The girl slept in the company of her friends."

Ea, in the wisdom of his heart, created a being.
He created a being called "Asushunamir".
"Come,"Asushunamir",set your face towards the gate of Kur-nu-gi.
The seven gates of Kur-nu-gi shall be opened before you.
Ereshkigal shall look at you and be glad to see you.
When she is relaxed, her mood will lighten.
Get her to swear the oath by the great gods.
Raise your head, pay attention to the waterskin,
Saying, 'Hey my lady,let them give me the waterskin, that I may drink water from it.'"

And so it happened. But....
When Ereshkigal heard this,
She struck her thigh and bit her finger.
"You have made a request of me that should not have been made!
Come, "Asushunamir", I shall curse you with a great curse.
I shall decree for you a fate that shall never be forgotten.
Bread gleaned from the city's ploughs shall be your food,
The city drains shall be your only drinking place,
Threshold steps your only sitting place,
The drunkard and the thirsty shall slap your cheek."

Ereshkigal made her voice heard and spoke:
She adressd her words to Namtar her vizier,
"Go Namtar, knock at Egalina,
Decorate the threshold steps with coral,
Bring the Annunaki out and seat them on golden thrones,
Sprinkle Inanna with the waters of life and conduct her into my presence."
Namtar went, knocked at Egalina,
Decorated the threshold steps with coral,
Brought out the Annunaki, seated them on golden thrones,
Sprinkled Inanna with the waters of life and brought her out to her sister.

He let her out through the the first door, and gave her back to her the Royal Robe of her body.

He let her out through the second door, and gave back to her the lapis measuring rod and line. of her hand.

He let her out through the third door, and gave back to her the Gold Bracelet Ring around her wrist.

He let her out through the fourth door, and gave back to her the Breastplate called "come, man, come" at her breast.

He let her out through the fifth door, and gave back to her the Double strands of beads around her neck.

He let her out through the sixth door, and gave back to her the rings of lapis beads for her ears.

He let her out through the seventh door, and gave back the great crown,
the shu-gur-ra for her head.

Ereshkigal said,
"Swear that she has paid you for her ransom,and give her back in exchange for him,
For Dmuzi,the lover of her youth,
Wash him with pure water,anoint him with sweet oil,
Clothe him in a red robe, let the lapis lazuli pipe play
Let the Sacred Prostitutes raise a loud lament"

Then Belili the sister of Dmuzi tore off her jewellery,
Her lap was filled with eyestones.
Belili heard the lament for her brother, she struck the jewellery from her body,
The eyestones with which the front of the wild cow was filled.
"You shall not rob me forever of my only brother!
On the day when Dmuzi comes back up, and the lapis pipe and the carnelian ring come up with him,
When male and female mourners come up with him,
The dead shall come up and smell the smoke offering"

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A quote

Which I have always liked

Some day there will be girls and women whose name will no longer signify merely an opposite of the masculine but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only of life and existence: the feminine human being.

This advance will (at first much against the will of the outstripped men) change the love experience, which is now full of error, will alter it from the ground up, reshape it into a relation that is meant to be from one human being to another, no longer of man to woman. And this more human love (that will fulfill itself, infinitely considerate and gentle in binding and releasing) will resemble that which we are preparing with struggle and toil, that love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.

Rainer Maria Rilke (From Letters to a Young Poet.)
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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Here is something really funny!

I just was doing some stats checking and discovered that the Times of London has linked to me.

I guess that this is my fifteen minutes of fame. Go figure.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

An important Truth

Never trust a fat Holy Man!

Check It Out

jhanajian has a very good post up over at Moon Woven.

It is on one of my favorite subjects, the seperation of Church and State.

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Interlude, Music

"God hates music!" is the cry of fundamentalism.

Have you ever stopped to think about this? I am not just talking about Islamic fundamentalism, this is an attitude found throughout pretty much all fundamentalist ideology.

While Muslim fundamentalists most often take the stance of "No music at all" (we saw that when the Mullahs took over Iran and people were making bonfires of instruments in the streets of Tehran)

Christian fundamentalists on the other hand have most often taken to position of using music only in the service of the church.

The general consensus though among those who would like to control every aspect of our lives that music should never be unregulated.

The reason for this is that music is one of the most powerful "memetic carriers". That is to say, music can infect large numbers of people with new ideas, and can do so more effectively than almost anything else.

We have seen this in the 20th century with the "Dust bowl Balladeers" like woody Guthrie. Pete Seeger, and Rambl'in Jack Elliot, as well as the "Folk movement" which gave us Joan Baez, Richard Farina and the like. Or we can contemplate the effect that the Beatles had on the consciousness of the world.

The is the sort of thing that sends the powers-that-be into inquisition mode. I think there by be nothing quite so frightening to Mullahs and politicians as someone like John Lennon.

Back in the day, we saw the same sort of reaction to the music that was becoming popular in the US that we saw in Iran.

Various "conservative" types held record burnings and all manner of indoctrination sessions trying to counteract the alien memes being injected into the minds of young people through the radio. (And AM radio at that). Interestingly, none of it worked.

I should note here that the performer is as important as the piece they are doing. Charisma is in fact considered a spiritual power/gift by many Sufi thinkers. Without this ability to connect with your audience, even the best song will not have the effect you want.

So if you want to understand how memes work, a good place to start is music. Take a long hard look at how a musical style such as Rap or Hip Hop spreads through various strata of culture world wide.

Listen to as much live music as you can, and notice how the artists connect with their audience.


(Speaking of which, one thing I am very excited about with spending more time on the East Coast is that there is a much more vital music scene than on the part of the West coast I have been hanging out in. As a matter of fact, Don, if you are reading this Ithaca has lots of good live music. Check out "Music on the Commons". As a matter of fact The Burns sisters Band will be playing there on the 18th of Aug. I like their music very much and recommend that you check them out if you can.)
So, God hates music? I think not. If he did she would not have used so much of it in creating the universe.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Hidden Conversation and Interfaith

The idea of interfaith has come up in our comments lately.

In my opinion interfaith work is one of the things that really needs to be worked on these days. If we don't we have nothing to look forward to than holy wars and inquisitions.

While, as I have mentioned before, the technical language of Sufism is that of Islam, the techniques of Sufism are science. This means that the results have nothing to do with magic or metaphysics. So A person can take the skills and techniques of kalam al batini and apply them to anyone regardless of their religious beliefs. You might need to speak in Christian metaphors, or Buddhist metaphors, or secular humanist metaphors, but the result is the same.

So in a certain sense, the ultimate interfaith is science.

(Of course we may never convince the creationists of this)

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In our recent conversations there has been some talk of making decisions about the validity of a person’s “Sufiness” by comparing his or her qualifications against an “internal checklist”. That being the case it is probably a good time to introduce the next concept from Al Kalam Al Batini.

The name for this concept is Al Ma’bud an-Nafs.

Ma’bud is an Arabic word that comes from the root ain-be-dal, ‘abd. Most people who have any contact with Muslims have encountered this root quite a bit as it is the most common prefix for Muslim names such as Abdulla (‘abd Allah, servant or slave of God)

There are three basic meanings to the root ‘abd. The first is “to serve or worship”, the second is “to enslave or subjugate” and the third is “to make a way that is passable by traffic”.

The word Ma’bud is most often translated as “Idol” (though in some contexts it can mean “beloved”) So al ma’bud an-nafs is most often translated as “the idols of the ego”.

Al ma’bud an-nafs refers to a particular kind of “mental processing for decision making” that I have referred to as “heuristic thinking”.

Heuristic thinking is a method of predicting outcomes through comparison to previously recognized patterns.

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with this, as a matter of fact it is a necessary style of thinking to be able to function in the world.

Without this particular skill set we would have to use our higher cognitive functions to make the smallest choices. Imagine the problems that would ensue if you had to make conscious, rational choices about such things as opening a door, or worse, driving a car.

Now “heuristic thinking” is entirely in the domain of Nafs. That is its proper function. One of the reasons that problems arise is that Nafs is also “in charge” of one’s “survival instinct.”

There is probably no other function in the “undeveloped” human as powerful as the “survival instinct”, and when ones Nafs is in the ammara state it requires vast amounts of “energy” to fulfill what it interprets as its duty.

One of the problems with this is that Nafs is not very good at this. “Heuristic thinking”, unless it is very carefully programmed by the “higher functions” has a greater chance of being wrong than right.

Let me give you a simple example.

You are presented with three stone jars. In the first are fifty white pebbles and fifty black pebbles. The second contains ten white pebbles and ninety black pebbles, and the third contains ninety white pebbles and ten black pebbles.

You are asked to make a choice.

You may either choose to attempt to draw one black pebble from the jar containing fifty black and fifty white pebbles or you can choose to attempt to draw seven black pebbles in a row from the jar that contains ninety black pebbles and ten white pebbles. Remember your life may depend on making the best choice.

Which do you choose?

You are then asked to make a second choice. You may attempt to draw one black pebble from the jar containing fifty black and fifty white pebbles or you can choose to attempt to draw one black pebble in seven tries from the jar that contains ninety white pebbles and ten black pebbles (putting your choice back each time so you are always drawing from a full hundred).

Which do you choose?

V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V

Believe it or not, in the first problem, drawing from the jar that contains ten white pebbles and ninety black pebbles is the worse of the two choices, it only has a 48% chance of success. (Verses the 50% chance for the first choice)

In the second problem the first choice is the worst. You have a 52% chance of success by attempting to draw one black pebble in seven tries from the jar that contains ninety white pebbles and ten black pebbles (putting your choice back each time so you are always drawing from a full hundred).

Now it does not matter if you guessed right as to which choice was “better”, what matters is your process for making the choice.

When the Nafs is “self-programming” it is called Nafs al Ammara, the commanding ego. Nafs is not good at “self-programming” for higher functions. All Nafs can do is set up “heuristic routines” based on very crude “programming abilities”.

When Nafs al Ammara is “in charge” of determining response to inner and outer stimuli by running all experience through its “heuristic routines”, these routines are called “Ma’bud an Nafs”, the idols of the ego.

The process of breaking the “addiction” to Nafs al Ammara and turning over the “metaprogramming” task to Dhat (essential self) is one of the main tasks of the Sufi Path.

When one studies the general outline of the progression thru the seven layers of the Nafs, it can be seen that each of these steps turns over a greater degree of responsibility for “metaprogramming” to the essential self as it develops a solid connection to the “ultimate metaprogramer” Allah ta ala. This is one of the reasons that many Sufis tend to refer to God as Al Haqq (the truly Real)

When the mechanical ego reaches the stage of Nafs al Safiyya, purified ego, it can, for the first time be said to be truly awake and functioning correctly.

It could be said that when Nafs is at the station of Ammara, it is asleep and dreaming. Its dreams produce the content of al Anfus. The “landscape of al Anfus is populated with al Ma’bud an Nafs, the idols of the ego. All available attention goes to maintaining these idols. In its “sleep” Nafs thrashes about as if it were having nightmares.

When Nafs is at the station of Safiyya its attention is focused on al Afaq. It can be said to be “at rest” in the sense that it develops a quality of “stillness” that allows it to “objectively” process what is given to it from al Afaq and its “heuristic routines” are being monitored and reprogrammed by Dhat.

After we knock this around a bit I will post the next part.

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Living in a fantasy world,

which is where a lot of people live most of their lives, has taken a huge jump in power thanks to mass media.

Recently, a wack-job senator, Rick Santorum, wrote a book called "It takes a Family".

One of his fantasies is that the "nuclear family" as a way of living together has been the most popular and effective kind of marriage for thousands of years.

This is just not true, but thanks to mass media it will become a strong idea within certain memetic complexes.

Now I took my first degree in anthropology, and actually had to study these things, so I am always just a little surprised when someone in a position of power is so woefully ignorant of human marriage and family patterns over the centuries.

historically, the most popular family strategy has been the extended family. Historically, polygamy has been more popular than monogamy. If these strategies were not successful they would not have been able to compete. I am not advocating polygamy, which works well only under specific circumstances. I will however advocate for the extended family as the very best way to raise children.

(If you doubt this do some research)

The "nuclear Family" is a strategy that did not become popular until the industrial revolution, and frankly it seems to me to be a piss poor one given the frequency of nuclear family failure in the modern world.

Never the less, the memes in this book will take root in American culture (unless something is done about it) and unfounded belief will (as it almost always does in the short run) trump science.

I am sure that most of you, when you were children had some adult tell you "be careful of what you put in your mouth".

unfortunately, very few people seem to tell anyone "Be careful of what you put in your mind".


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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Have you noticed

That "Grand Theft Auto, San Andras",

arguable one of the most despicable video games ever made, with more violence than "Leroy's Honky Tonk" on a Saturday night, was doing just fine with an "M" rating until it was discovered that there were some sex scenes embedded deeply in the code that could be accessed if one found the right key?

Now, because of those hidden scenes, the game is being yanked from the shelves of Walmarts everywhere.

What does that tell you about some of the most powerful memes in our culture?

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One day a woman came to Mullah Nasreddin and said;

"I want to ask a question, but Sufis are tricksters!"

The mullah replied, "I would not know if this were so madam, having never met a Sufi."


So much of our lives is lived through hearsay. If we took the time to really check how many of our beliefs are just things that people have told us that we have never examined critically, we could be really shocked at how much of what we think about the world is little more than "bedtime stories".

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What is most important?

A group of students came to Mulla Nasruddin one day with a question.

"Mulla, you are wise, so perhaps you can settle our dispute." the spokesman said. "Some of us think that prayer is man's most important activity, some say it is fasting, while others suggest that it is alms giving and doing good works." "Mulla, what do you think?"

The Mulla looked at the young men for a moment, then replied, "the answer to your question will become readily apparent if you just hold your breath while contemplating which of these arguments has the most weight."

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Maryam al Magdala The Khalifa of Isa al ruh Allah

I have a theory, it will never be proved or disproved I think, but it is interesting to me never the less.

When I point out that Sufism as we know it today is an Islamic tradition someone always pops up with the old "Sufism existed before Islam" rant (and it is almost always a rant for some reason).

What these people never seem to notice is that no one, least of all me, denys that Sufism existed before Islam. What I do point out is that Sufism at the time of the Prophet (saws), was collected in him, and that other streams of Sufi thought had died out. So it does not matter if there was Sufism before Islam because at the time of the Prophet (saws) Allah hit the "reset switch" on Sufism because the tradition had been all but wiped out. So while one may find interesting historical fragments of pre-Islamic Sufism, the living tradition will not be found.

The ranters use the idea that Sufism existed before Islam as a justification for trying to take small bits and pieces of the Tradition without the Islamic "glue" that holds it all together and makes it work. What they fail to realize is that Sufism is more than a groups of techniques, or a "spiritual psychology".

Without the fundamental connection to the Source that real Sufism provides, the techniques are of very limited value. That connection is found only in the lineage of Khalifas to the Prophet Muhammad (saws) during this period of time. Before the Prophet (saws) the Baraka of the Path was found with Isa (as) and his Khalifas, before that with Musa (as) and his Khalifas, and before that with Ibrahim (as) who brought it with him out of Sumer (Ur) and passed it to his Khalifas.

The study of Isa (Jesus) and what happened to his mission can shed a little light on how the Tradition manifests and how it is lost. That is because though the events happened 2000 years ago they were very public. As my Shaykh says, "Jesus taught Sufism publicly to everyone rather than to just his inner circle".

So if this was the case, what happened to turn the teachings of Jesus (as) into Christianity?

My take on it is that some of the other students could not deal with Isa's Khalifa, who I think was Mary Magdalene who is called the Apostle to the apostles and who is very likely the "Beloved Disciple" referred to in the Gospels.

I think that there is enough existent evidance to support my theory, though as I said it will always remain just that.

According to the ancient tradition of the East, Mary Magdalene was a wealthy woman from whom Christ expelled seven demons. The account of this can be found in the Gospel of Luke.

I find that interesting, seven demons, or seven unclean spirits, or perhaps seven Nafs. I have always wondered if this passage actually referred to initiation rather than exorcism.

There is an interesting suggestion that She, and not John was the founder of the Johannine Community and possibly even the original author of the Gospel of John.

But one thing seems clear from reading the existent literature, that was a great deal of stress between the Tradition as represented by Mary and some of the other disciples, most notably Peter.

I suspect that it was this stress that made the room for Paul to come in and hijack the Teachings of Jesus for his Christianity.

To give you an example of what I am talking about I have appended the fragment we still have of the Gospel of Mary.

So my take is that Mary Magdalene was the rightful spiritual successor to Jesus, his Khalifa. And the fact that the egos of some of the Male disciples could not deal with this fact help to wipe out the Sufism that she taught.


But then again, it is just a thought


The Gospel of Mary Magdalene



(pp.1-6 missing) will matter then be [destroyed] or not?" The Savior said, "All natures, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots.

For the nature of matter is resolved into (the roots of) its nature alone. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Peter said to him, "Since you have explained everything to us, tell us this also: What is the sin of the world?" The Savior said, "There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called 'sin.' That is why the Good came into your midst, to the essence of every nature, in order to restore it to its root." Then he continued and said, "That is why you [become sick] and die, for [...] of the one who [...He who] understands, let him understand.

[Matter gave birth to] a passion that has no equal, which proceeded from (something) contrary to nature. Then there arises a disturbance in the whole body. That is why I said to you, 'Be of good courage, and if you are discouraged (be) encouraged in the presence of When the blessed one had said this, he greeted them all, saying, "Peace be with you. Receive my peace to yourselves. Beware that no one lead you astray, saying, 'Lo here!' or 'Lo there!' For the Son of Man is within you. Follow after him! Those who seek him will find him. Go then and preach the gospel of the kingdom. Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed for you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it." When he had said this, he departed.

But they were grieved. They wept greatly, saying, "How shall we go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel of the kingdom of the Son of Man? If they did not spare him, how will they spare us?" Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brethren, "Do not weep and do not grieve nor be irresolute, for his grace will be entirely with you and will protect you. But rather let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us (and) made us into men."

When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the words of the [Savior].Peter said to Mary, "Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember--which you know (but) we do not nor have we heard them."

Mary answered and said, "What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you." And she began to speak to them these words: "I," she said, "I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to him, 'Lord, I saw you today in a vision,' He answered and said to me, 'Blessed are you, that you did not waver at the sight of me. For where the mind is, there is the treasure.' I said to him, 'Lord, now does he who sees the vision see it {through} the soul {or} through the spirit?'

The Savior answered and said, 'He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind which [is] between the two--that is [what] sees the vision and it is [...].' (pp.11-14 missing) ..."And desire said, "I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. WHy do you lie, since you belong to me?"

The soul answered and said, "I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment, and you did no know me." When it had said this, it went away rejoicing greatly. "Again it came to the third power, which is called ignorance.

It (the power) questioned the soul, saying, "Where are you going? In wickedness are you bound. But you are bound; do not judge!" And the soul said, "Why do you judge me, although I have not judged?" I was bound, though I have not bound. I was not recognized. But I have recognized that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly (things) an the heavenly."

" When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, (which) took seven forms. The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom.

These are the seven {powers} of wrath. They ask the soul, "Whence do you come, slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space?" The soul answered and said, "What binds me has been slain, and what turns me about has been overcome, an my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died. In a (world) I was released from a world, and in a type from a heavenly type, and from the fetter of oblivion which is transient. From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence."

When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her. But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, "Say what you (wish to) say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas." Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things. He questioned them about the Savior: "Did he really speak privately with a woman (and) not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?"

Then Mary wept and said to Peter, "My brother Peter, what do you think? DO you think that I thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?"

Levi answered and said to Peter, "Peter, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man, and separate as he commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said." When [...]and they began to go forth [to] proclaim and to preach.

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Reincarnation

You know, it does not matter in the least who you may or may not have been in some past incarnation.

The only thing that matters is what you have done today.

You may have been the greatest, most studly, wisest, most powerful high priest of Egypt a few thousand years ago but if you are a worthless parasite today it really does not mean a lot.

So what if you channel a 20,000 year old Atlantian warrior. If you can't pick up your sword TODAY and step into the sand pit with me and show me a few moves that I haven't seen before, your claims are meaningless.

Don't tell me how much wisdom you have accumulated in the last several incarnations, tell me how many hungry people you have fed this week.

Don't tell me how the world would be better off if people would only follow, your teaching because you are the reincarnation of somebody very special, tell me how many people with broken hearts you have comforted, how many homeless people you have sheltered, how many people you have taught to read, how many jobs you have helped to find.

There are no special people. There are however special actions. Don't tell me who you were, show me who you are.

Wassalaam,

(OK, sorry, I don't know what came over me. I'll go back to talking about spiritual things now)

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A story about horses

Once upon a time, a question was sent to the Theological Collage, asking how
many teeth were to be found in a horse's mouth.


The Savants of the collage, which included the greatest religious minds of the time, searched through all of the holy books, the writings of the saints, the works of the great theologians of the past, but could not find the answer to this question.

While this great tumult of research was going on, a young monk, who's job was to sweep the rooms, overheard the problem being discussed. He went humbly up to the great men and asked them, "My lords, why do you not look into a horse's mouth and count the teeth?"

With a roar, the scholars drove the young monk from the room with blows and kicks.

Shortly after, they published their findings, that the answer to this question was a mystery and not to be known, as holy writ was silent on the matter.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Hidden Conversation, and other groovy Sufi-like stuff

Here is a bunch of information on the subject of "The Hidden Conversation" ™

I pulled this off an eList that I created some years ago on the instruction of my Teacher.

One of the things he charged me with was to introduce some higher order ideas and observe the reactions of the people on the list as they were exposed to them.

When it came to the material of the "Hidden Conversation" one thing I discovered was that people could only discuss the material for about seven days without freaking out and dragging the list into chaos.

There were only a very few exceptions to this rule, one of which was my friend Jeff, who's questions were one of the reasons I kept the list going.

So here is a collection of material for anyone who is interested in the tools nessessary for breaking free of the "everyday trance" that we live in.

Sorry for its length, but it is better than having to join the list and then going through the Archives, yes?

Copyright 2002 Mushtaq Ali al Ansari, all rights reserved. No part of this document by be reprinted or reproduced in any fashion without the express fnord permission of the author.

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…………..This brings us (in a rather circuitous way) to the next question I found so interesting.

Someone asked (with malice of forethought no doubt) "What's wrong with generalizations?" After I picked myself up of the floor from laughing I realized that the question was probably serious and the poor fellow probably didn't know any better.

The answer is, nothing is wrong with generalizations under the correct circumstances and everything is wrong with them under the wrong circumstances.

For instance, if one were attempting to design a new model car, generalization would be an essential part of the process. It might even be said to be a process of distorting an almost Platonic generalization of "car-ness" to achieve the particular form you want. Then it is also necessary to create a generalization to understand that a "Volkswagen" and a "Cadillac" are both in the class of things we call "car".

On the other hand, generalization when it comes to certain aspects of the human condition is the worst kind of poison.

For instance, who can tell me what is wrong with these sentences:

  • Irishmen are Drunks.
  • Blacks are lazy.
  • Women are weaker.
  • Arabs are terrorists.
  • Junkies will steal from you.
  • White Men exploit the planet.
  • Real Sufis do not chant in foreign languages.

Now I could write a whole book on just the above, but others already have soI will just leave this dangling out here like a baited hook.

Instead let me introduce you to a Sufi concept that I have not seen much of in the West.

It is contained in the two phrases "Al lasun an Nafs" and "Al Lasun al Dhat" (The language of the Ego and the language of the Essence).

The only overt reference I can remember to this concept is in Gurdjieff's "Meetings With Remarkable Men" where he talks about the two brothers who go from monastery to monastery lecturing

"Understanding is acquired, as I have already said, from the totality of information intentionally learned and from personal experiencings; whereas
knowledge is only the automatic remembrance of words in a certain sequence.....

I must tell you that in our brotherhood there are two very old brethren; one is called Brother Ahl and the other Brother Sez. These brethren have undertaken the obligation of periodically visiting of all the monasteries of our order and explaining various aspects of the essence of divinity....

The sermons of these two brethren, who are to an almost equal degree holy men and who speak the same truths, have nevertheless a different effect on all our brethren and on me in particular.

When Brother Sez speaks it is indeed like the song of the birds in Paradise; from what he says one is quite, so to say, turned inside out; one becomes as though entranced. His speech 'purls' like a stream and one no longer wishes anything else in life but to listen to the voice of Brother Sez.

But Brother Ahl's speech has almost the opposite effect. He speaks badly and indistinctly, evidently because of his age. No one knows how old he is. Brother Sez is also very old - it said three hundred years old - but he is still a hale old man, whereas in Brother Ahl the weakness of old age is
clearly evident.

The stronger the impression made at the moment by the words of Brother Sez, the more this impression evaporates, until there ultimately remains in the hearer nothing at all.

But in the case of Brother Ahl, although at first what he says makes almost no impression, later, the gist of it takes on a different form, more and
more each day, and is instilled as a whole into the heart and remains there for ever.

When we became aware of this and tried to discover why it was so, we came to the unanimous conclusion that the sermons of Brother Sez proceeded only from his mind and therefore acted on our minds, whereas those of Brother Ahl proceeded from his being and acted on our being."

(Meetings With Remarkable Men, G.I Gurdjieff)


The whole idea behind the concepts of "Al lasun an Nafs" and "Al Lasun al Dhat" is that a person who is operating from Nafs (mechanical ego) will speak in a way that is very different from a person who is operating from Essence. It is further postulated that if one understands the process of each "language" that it is remarkably easy to tell where a person is operating from. Even more importantly, if one trains oneself to speak consciously from "Al Lasun al Dhat" then the Essence will be awakened just by the process of communicating.


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There is a discipline of "practical Sufism" taught in some (but not all) Tariqas (taught to some but not all students) called "Kalam al Batini" (the hidden conversation).

This discipline is predicated on the idea that a person does not speak one 'language' but has several possible 'languages' (modes of communication) both verbal and non-verbal that are mostly expressed 'unconsciously'.

These 'languages' can be broken down into two categories,
"Al lasun an Nafs" (the language of the 'ego')
and
"Al Lasun al Dhat" (the language of the Essence)

In training both of these broad categories are further refined, each being broken down into seven subsections.

The reconciling 'force' between these two types of communication is "Wukuf" (a very complex concept that is often glossed as "pause" or "awareness")

"Al Lasun al Dhat" / \"Al lasun an Nafs"
___
"Wuquf"

Mr. Gurdjieff gave us this contrast between "Al Lasun al Dhat" and "Al lasun an Nafs"

"Understanding is acquired, as I have already said, from the totality of information intentionally learned and from personal experiencings; whereas knowledge is only the automatic remembrance of words in a certain sequence....."


One of the more important ways that a student begins to develop the skills of "Kalam al Batini" is through working with the "most beautiful Names", specifically with three of them;

  • Al Raqib "the Vigilant"
  • Al Muhsi "the Appraiser"
  • Al Khabir "the Aware"

This is done in such a way as to allow the student to "embody" the qualities.

Now I would like to add some more terms and concepts to the mix.

The first two are "Afaq" and "Anfus".

Though these two words traditionally are referred to as "worlds", they actually refer to modes of perception.

Afaq means "horizon" or "view", in this sense it refers to the "phenomenal world". It is perhaps best explained as what is given to the senses to
perceive from the Divine Reality. Anfaq is limited by the "constraints of the senses", that is to say, it is Only what is perceived from the senses and is limited to that which the senses can receive and process.

Anfus comes from the root Nun-Fe-Sin, "nafs", self, or ego. Anfus is the internally constructed world of the Ego. It is made up from memory, habit, conditioning, learning, and such like.

The Anfus is the 'veil' through which we see life. It projects its 'stories' onto what is received in the Afaq.

It is said that the Anfus 'wraps' the experiences of the senses in "Haweh" (another of those interesting Arabic words. It is usually translated as "container" or "wrapper" but from the same root comes a word for a "juggler" or "slight-of -hand artist. This is where I coined the term "slight of mind" (tm) from). I guess the best way to describe this is to say that "Haweh" are the "projections of conditioning" placed on phenomenal experience.

When the Anfus expresses itself in the consensual world (Alam al Mulk) it is called "Al lasun an Nafs".

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A quote from the Liber Proverbiorum of Raymondo Lull, where he describes "Al Lasun al Dhat"

THE SIXTH SENSE: VOICE OR AFFATUS
From Blessed Raymond Lull's Book of Proverbs


1. The Affatus is the unknown sixth sense.

2. The Affatus is the faculty for manifesting one's mental concepts.

3. The object of the Affatus is the manifestation of thought and its
instrument is the tongue.

4. The tongue is an instrument common to the acts of the Affatus and of the
sense of taste, in the same way as sound is an instrument for hearing and
speaking.

5. Through the Affatus, you participate more with the rational soul, than
through any other sense.

6. The Affatus stands between the mental concept, and the sense of hearing.

7. Through the Affatus, one person can communicate with another more than
through any other sense.

8. None of the other senses signifies as many things as the Affatus does.

9. The sense of hearing hears sound, but the Affatus produces it.

10. The Affatus produces the name of GOD in sound, and the sense of hearing
perceives it.

11. Through the Affatus, you can be more loved or hated than through any
other sense.

12. The Affatus communicates science to the sense of hearing.

13. The Affatus is a figure of the intellect, and the sense of hearing is a
figure of memory.

14. The sense of smell is not as necessary a sense as the Affatus.

15. In this world, you cannot participate with GOD without an act of the
Affatus.

16. The Affatus is such a noble faculty, and so very useful, that the Lord
of all nature would be doing it wrong, if it were not a sense.

17. With none of the other senses does the Son of GOD have a concordance as
great as with the Affatus.

18. The acts of the Affatus, and of speech are equivalent or convertible.

19. The words "Affatus" and "verbal speech" are synonyms.

20. The mechanical arts are made more manifest through the Affatus, than
through any other sense.


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"I was a Hidden Treasure and I desired to be known. So I created the universe so that I might be known."

This Hadith Qudsi is often used to illustrate one of the central themes of Sufism. That Allah wants to be known and has acted creatively to ensure that this will be the case. The action That Allah took was to create the universe from His attributes so as to reflect Him to Him. The prime "organ of perception" (at least in this neck of the galaxy) is Humans.

When we look at the Islamic exposition of the creation of humans we can see that "man" contains the entire spectrum of creation "from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low", a set of attributes contained in no other aspect of creation mentioned. It has been suggested that Allah created us in this way so as to have the potential for perfect reflection. This is because humans are designed to be able to not only reflect the entire spectrum of Allah's attributes but also to be able to reflect Allah's Essence. (this particular observation has gotten Sufis into no end of trouble with the fundamentalist/legalist branch of Islam)

It has been observed (by experts and others of course) that much of the "Sufic Sciences" are based around working consciously with the "Most beautiful Names" (Asma al Husna) which are "descriptors" for the attributes of Allah (and the gateway to His Essence).

For instance in the "Kalam al Batini" (the hidden conversation) which is the Sufi way of understanding the subtle levels of human verbal and nonverbal communication (and leading, it is said to communication at the level of essence) Three of the "Divine Names" are considered essential.

They are

  • Al Raqib
  • Al Muhsi
  • Al Khabir

Through working with these names in the proper order and with the correct techniques* a particular "yaqin" (certainty) can be developed which is essential to the process.

* (no I am not going to tell you the order or techniques for working with these names. If you were to make even the smallest mistake, strange bestial forms would manifest, coming not through the spaces we know but from the angles between them, to suck your soul out through your left ear and carry it to the outer realms to be forever tormented by the Great Old Ones...... Or it would give you a really bad headache, I forget which)

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The Prophet (saws) said:
"Man is asleep. He will not awaken until Death."

And he (saws) also said:
"Die before you die."

Obviously, the "sleep" that the Prophet (saws) is referring to here is not the sleep we have at night in our beds, (though it may include that).

I would like to suggest that the sleep that is referred to here is something rather specific and freeing oneself from this "sleep" is central to the process of transformation that leads to the Insan-i-Kamal.

Unfortunately I have to slip at times into the realm of metaphor in an attempt to describe my understanding of what happens here, so please bear with me. The English language is sometimes short on words that accurately describe what is being talked about for things Sufic. So I will endeavor to "point at the moon" through metaphor and simile while building a vocabulary of traditional technical terms in Arabic (for the most part), as that has been the language that Sufis have used for most of the last 1400 years to communicate these ideas.

It has been suggested (by experts and Sufis and plumbers and others) that each of the "parts" of a person, the Nafs, the Dhat, the various Souls, the body, has its appropriate "food". Without sufficient amount of the right type of "food" a given "part" cannot generate enough energy to develop, and if one "part' lags behind the person as a whole is stunted.

My understanding is that a person's dhat (essential self) needs a very particular stimulus in order to grow. Unfortunately, the kind of sensory stimulus needed is "short circuited" by the nafs when it is in the "Ammara" (commanding) phase.

This being the case the essential self stays (in most people) in an "embryonic state".

The nafs, in its "un-repaired" state, functions by stealing attention. Attention, (which is the rightful material of dhat), is fixated on the "objects' of Anfus. This "fixation of attention" follows a pattern of "crystallization" around core "objects", which I suspect may be what Mr. Gurdjieff was talking about with his idea of the "Chief Feature". The nafs uses this pattern of fixation to set up the criteria for making a "heuristic matrix" of choice. When a person operates at this level of "consciousness" (for lack of a better term) they tend to react to people and events that have only one or two points of similarity to the "objects" of the "heuristic matrix" AS IF those one or two points of similarity made them identical to the Anfus "object" in its entirety.

So when you run across phrases like

  • "Arabs are terrorists"
  • "Idries Shah is the worlds foremost authority on Sufism"
  • "Islam is the Enemy"
  • "Black People are Lazy"
  • " White Men exploit the planet"
  • "My Tariqa says (X) is true/false"
  • "My wife/husband doesn't understand me"
  • "Don't worry, be happy"
  • "Idries Shah is a Wanker"

This comes from Al Lasun al Nafs and what responds to these phrases in the listener is most often (unless one has done considerable work on oneself) the Nafs.

In the technical language of (some) Sufis (and others) the unconscious reaction from within the heuristic matrix that produces an uncontrolled "emotional" and physical response based on a random point of similarity from within the anfus is called "Khatir an Nafs".

Khatir is another of those "interesting" Arabic words. In this context it means "A thought, or idea complex which is given to the conscious mind seemingly in a random way that affects the emotions in its passing"

Using tools like the Naqsh-i-Kabir (enneagram), a skilled person can plot out the process by which Nafs fixates attention on the objects of Anfus and what sort of content will be displayed. This also allows for the information necessary to interrupt and redirect this process in such a way to give attention back to Dhat.

Dhat expresses itself (at its most basic level) by three qualities,

  • Attention ('Intabah) ***
  • Intention (Niya) **
  • Presence (Hadra) *


(Yes, the dots are there for a reason)

One could say that when these three qualities are "connected" to the afaq, and in balance with each other, that the essential self is "awake".

Think of the "fire triangle" that most people learn about in elementary school, where if you remove any one point (heat, fuel, oxygen) the fire goes out. In just such a way, when one of these three "points of being" are removed/inhibited, the person's "awake-ness" goes out.

Now, as I said nafs "steals" attention for its own purpose, and in doing so removes one of the corners of the "awake triangle". The problem is to recover attention and then integrate it with the other two points in such a way that a state of "heightened consciousness" is developed. As one might imagine, this is easier said than done.

A great deal has been written about the aphorisms of the Khwaghan over the centuries but little of that writing has been "practical".

Each of the three points of the "essence" triangle relates to one or more of the aphorisms.

Attention had three parts:

Attention works in "three dimensions" it has a sort of "volume".

Attention ('Intabah) ***

Hosh dar dam
Awareness of breath

Bringing ones attention to the breath is the first step to awakening the essence. So the first part of attention is placed in the breath, this does not mean that one changes ones breathing in any way, it is just breathing with awareness.

Nigah Dasht
Watchfulness

The second part of attention is placed on the immediate perceivable environment. This is done in "soft focus", taking in everything as a whole, without making comment on any one part of the environment, being careful to avoid allowing ones attention to fixate on any object or group of objects.

Yad Dasht
Recollection

The third part of attention is turned reflexively onto your own awareness.

--

Intention has two parts:

Intention works in two dimensions, it joins two points into a fiels.

Intention (Niya) **

Baz Gasht
Restraint, Return, travel one way, be single-minded

When attention has become focused then intention is engaged naturally. When intention is made the consciousness of the person must make a kind of "field", one pole of which is the present state, with the other pole being the state of the intention fulfilled. The essence "goes" to the completed intention and then makes a path back to the starting point thereby "blazing the trail" for the intention to complete itself.

Nazar bar qadam
Watch your steps

At every moment be conscious of your actions in respect to fulfilling your intention. Make sure that you do not become lost or distracted and be aware of the future consequences of each action.

--
Presence has one part:

Presence is like a single point.

Presence (Hadra) *

Yad Kard
Remembrance

Remembrance is the state where individual being is connected to universal being (Allah)

When all three of these qualities are "awake" and functioning together, dhat (essence) begins to generate the necessary "energies" to form around itself four "souls", called
  • Ruhani Ruh ("spiritual Soul")
  • Sultani Ruh ("Authoritative Soul")
  • Seyreni Ruh ("Moving Soul")
  • Jismani Ruh ("corporeal Soul")

Which are quite important to the development of the person.

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Interlude, Sacred Movement

"It is illusion to say our movements are voluntary.
All our movements are automatic. Our thoughts and feelings are just as automatic. The automatism of thought and feeling is definitely connected with the automatism of movement. One cannot be changed without the other.

So that if a man's attention is concentrated, let us say, on changing automatic thoughts, then habitual movements and habitual postures will interfere with this new course of thought by attaching to it old habitual associations."
(G. I. Gurdjieff)


Up to this point we have been addressing the "Hidden Conversation" from, by in large, the point of view of language.

Mr. Gurdjieff's comments above point out that verbalization is only a small part of "The conversation", and in fact real transformation cannot take place unless the body in engaged.

This of course is one of the ways that the path protects itself. You would be amazed at the number of "seekers" that go elsewhere when they find out that part of their training entails breaking a sweat daily.

The basic premise is this. Most movement, in most people, most of the time, is unconscious and habitual.

Try this little experement.

Sit in a chair and place your dominant hand on your knee.

Count to three and on "three" quickly reach up and touch your ear.

Now do the same thing with your other hand.

Do this a few times with each hand.

Carry out the exercise before reading the rest of the message.
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Unless you have had some significant training, you will most likely experience an instant of "awareness of movement" at the beginning and at the end of the exercise, but all of the "in-between" will be pretty much "empty".


Now, for a moment entertain the possibility that there are an infinite number of possible points of consciousness between the start of the movement and the end of it, and that each of these points can be filled with "attention, intention, and presence".

Movement of this kind is called Harakah Qudsi (sacred movement). It is movement outside of the habitual and unconscious. It is intentional and spontaneous. It frees energy that has been trapped in the body through conditioned movement. It is an absolutely necessary part of becoming a "Conscious Being".

There are only a very few disciplines left that promote this kind of movement, a handful of martial arts, a couple of yoga styles, a very few dance styles, The "Turn" of the Mevlevis (when taught correctly by someone who has been deeply trained in that tradition) And one or two others.

This is an area of work that has almost been lost. I remember reading a book years ago by a Norwegian athlete named Torlif Sheldroup (I have probably spelled it wrong) Who predicted that there would come a time when people would have to take classes to learn things a basic as how to walk correctly. Well this seems to have started to come to pass.

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There is an old Turkish Proverb which (very roughly) translated says;

"If you make yourself a donkey there are plenty of people willing to throw a saddle on your back."

One way to understand this could be,

If you don't learn to think for yourself there are plenty of people who are quite happy to do your thinking for you.

I am reminded of a kid from India who somehow ended up being hailed as an "enlightened master". He was about sixteen years old when I became aware of him. I remember seeing a picture if him, quite pudgy and sort of cross eyed, sitting on some sort of throne with a caption that said "Does your mind bother you? Then give it to me, it won't bother me."

It was at that moment that I first understood the concept of "The War of the Magicians".

There is an old tradition that runs through Sufism. Most people, if they ever run across it, find it in the writings of Mr. Gurdjieff. He talks about "The catastrophe not according to law by which mankind was split into two streams the greater of which could only live together more or less comfortably as masters and slaves" (boy did he love his run-on sentences).

Now this is the "$64,000.00 question. It is quite obvious to me that the "lasun al nafs" is an extremely powerful survival strategy for the biological organism, arguably more so than the "lasun al dhat".

(Who as it who said "You must be as gentle as doves and as cunning as serpents"?)

One of my interests is in "Spanish Circle" Fencing, called "La Destreza". Pretty much all of the existent literature on the subject agrees that the Duelists of the Spanish School were extremely formidable and one crossed blades with them at great risk. Even the irascible George Silver esq. (who hated rapier fencing with a passion) respected the Spanish School (while observing one of their chief weaknesses).

So I wondered, "if the Spanish School were so formidable, and so obviously superior to the Italian and French Schools of the time, why did the Spanish School die out and the Italian And French Schools become dominant?".

The answer, I believe is to be found in learning curves. At five years of training, a fencer of the Spanish School was most often the dominant player, but at two years of training the Italian and French fencers could beat the Spanish quite often. So it was perhaps a case of the "quick fix" winning out over "mastery"

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Here is a question for the group.

What is the LEAST complex level of simulation you can experience and describe in such a way that another person can understand (simulate) your experience with the least amount of lost/projected information?
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(By now some people may be wondering what this all has to do with Sufism. I would suggest that it IS a description of facets of Tasawwuf couched in modern terminology *for the moment*. I am trying this approach because I have noticed that when I use the natural language of Sufism (which comes out of and is intimately connected to Islam) some people seem to get edgy. I have noticed that when I say *Allah* some members of this list chime in with statements like "But...but but ...... Sufism fnord predated Islam..... Sufism is not an Islamic phenomena....... Shah says fnord we don't have to be Muslim to be Sufis.......etc, etc, etc.......... Which I am more bored with than words can express. Mostly because I hear it as the same kind of smug, sanctimonious, self-satisfied drivel that I get from "fundamentalists", just coming from a different point on the "close-mindedness" graph.

The fact of the matter is that this material is best understood in its natural language. I am basically trying to reinterpret 1400 years of developed technical language on the fly into something that does not set off people with rigid views about Islam.

Of course in doing so I seem to have set off another rigidly sedimented group. Those being the smug, sanctimonious, self-satisfied idiots who think Sufism should be fnord seen as fundamentalist Islam with some chanting tacked on the end.

To both groups I have good news. I have put in a request with Allah (the mighty, the glorious, who is the lord of the two universes, most exalted) (tm)

I am attempting to arrange a visit from the clue fairy for all of you. She is a bit over worked just now so please be patient.

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"Sens produir no pot nuyl hom amar,
ni pot home entendre ni remembrar,
ni ha home poder de sentir e estar."

("Without producing, no man can love,
nor can he understand or remember,
nor have the power of feeling and being.")

(Ramon Llull, Cent noms de Déu.)

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You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird...So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. Ilearned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.
Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988)
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If there turns out to be interest in this subject I will add more information from time to time, if not then on to other things.

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Killer Memes

To understand what is going on in the world today you have to understand how meme complexes work.

Memes struggle for ideological turf in much the same way that different species struggle to dominate their ecological niche to ensure that their DNA gets passed down.

Here is something important to know. DNA does not care one bit about an individual member of the species that carries it. All that matters is that DNA continues. A million members of a species may perish as long as DNA gets passed along.

In the same way, memes do not care about individual carriers. As long as the meme survives and is passed on, a million people can die and it does not matter.

All exoteric religions are meme complexes. All political movements are meme complexes.

Here is another thing to understand. Most really viable memes are complexes rather than single memes.

Just as multi celled complex organisms have certain survival abilities, "interlocking" groups of memes often have better long term survivability.

Bearing these ideas in mind.

"fundamentalist Islam" is a "Killer Meme", that is to say, a meme complex that has, as part of its survival strategy, a "sub-routine" that insists that all carriers of this "idea complex" attack, and if possible kill, anyone who rejects infection with and compliance with the meme complex.

This is how we get "suicide bombers" and individuals who will kidnap and kill anyone who does not obey their wishes. It is also how we get people like the boy who killed Theo Van Gogh for putting out competing ideas.

This is a very effective strategy in the short term, as long as you don't care about individual carriers.

Now, there has been a lot of talk to the effect of "Hey, our fundamentalist Christians are pretty bad, but at least they are not blowing themselves or anyone else up!"

The people who are saying this have not been paying attention to history.

Christianity has produced any number of "Killer memes" that infected Europe for almost a thousand years, creating wars and massacres on all sides up until just about two hundred years ago.

It is just Islam's turn right now.

You can't free someone else from memetic enslavement until you have freed yourself.

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