Tag - sufism

The Way of the Lover by Ross Heaven

Self-help books could be among the most hated texts among nowadays readers. I myself take part of the never ending ranting when the subject arises, and I’m sure I’ll keep doing it for some time. However, I’m pleased to see that not every book in the genre is as dull and boring as the popular norm seems to dictate.

The Way of the Lover: Sufism, Shamanism and the Spiritual Art of Love,” by Ross Heaven, has given me a thousand, valuable quotes that make me believe that not everything is lost when it comes to life and love, and that even death and hate, concepts I’ve been so friends with for a long time, are anything but enemies of the first ones.

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I particularly enjoyed the fictitious, short stories that came between the chapters, as they served the purpose of a better way to understand what Heaven explains. For people like me, avid lovers of fiction, it becomes clearer and easier to get the point by a short, yet entertaining plot with simple characters.

Divided in four major chapters that explain the art of loving and believing in the Divine, Heaven takes the time to illustrate the point and the different cases in which the teaching came in form of personal experiences or someone that told them. The style in which all of it is written also tried to remain as poetic as possible.

Because of that last aspect of the book, the reading process became heavier and thought at some points, making it hard to keep track of what was being explained in this or that chapter. Despite the efforts, “The Way of the Lover” confuses the reader more times that the acceptable, no matter how important the section can be, as you feel unable to go to the next page.

This path of ups and downs in the prose is somewhat irritating, but reaching the end and see all of the potential in Heaven’s book is worth the wait. In artistic terms, this a perfectly imperfect book, but as for hardcore readers, it will be better to have a clear idea of what they’ll encounter inside: teachings from poet Rumi’s work on how to be a better version of themselves.

It bothered me a little that there was not that much material, substance about Sufism, but keep in mind that the belief itself in not the main subject, but the art of love and how Sufism and Shamanism touch the same teachings at some point. Readers must have a previous background on both topics to fully understand “The Way of the Lover.”

As a final word, it can be said that its final teaching is nothing but dull, proving that despite the flaws, Heaven has given birth to a great book that will help more than one when the time is right. This is one of those readings that need their own time and pace to be enjoyed; the same goes for their teachings to be incorporated in life.

The Way of the Lover: Sufism, Shamanism and the Spiritual Art of Love
Print Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Moon Books (September 29, 2017)
Publication Date: September 29, 2017

About the author:

Ross Heaven is a shaman, psychologist and healer and the director of The Four Gates Foundation, one of Europe’s leading organisations for the preservation and teaching of indigenous wisdom. He lives in Newhaven, UK.

About the reviewer:

Bader Saab is a digital journalist and self-published writer; a solitary, eclectic wiccan interested in the darker side of magic and divination; a gothic guy that tries to educate whenever he cans. Hopefully, someday he will succeed in one of them.

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The Sufi Call, Making a Better World

by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff

Nasrudin was now an old man looking back on his life. He sat with his friends in the tea shop telling his story.

“When I was young I was fiery-I wanted to awaken everyone. I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change the world.

In mid-life I awoke one day and realized my life was half over and I had changed no one so I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change those around me who so much needed it.

Alas, now I am old and my prayer is simpler. ‘Allah,’ I ask, ‘please give me the strength to at least change myself.”**

Introduction

According to Sufi tradition, man/woman is the meeting point between heaven and earth and is created with a spiritual destiny. Within each person there is the capacity to create, make decisions and destroy. These aspects or abilities reflect Higher attributes and man/woman’s birth right is to rule a vast, personal spiritual kingdom.

Humanity is evolving to a higher state of consciousness. This is both individual and collective- as a race of people. This evolution is purposeful and guided so it may be attained. To help safeguard this Plan there is a hierarchy of servants and teachers who work on many levels. Collectively humanity has a potential and destiny. Many of the holy books speak about this potential. These references are part allegorical and part literal.

In the Plan, each person or soul has a distinctive role. In part, that is what this life is about. To figure out how you fit into the world, using your physical, mental, and spiritual potential. The world needs good people who are doing what they can to make things work for themselves and others.

In each day, there are many opportunities to reach higher and fulfill your individual destiny or plan. Simply ask yourself before doing something that you are uncertain about, if this action will bring you closer or further you from your own higher destiny and the Source. Learn to wait for an answer. You can do this. Slowly you will begin to hear your own inner capacity. Follow this inner voice. This inner voice and its wisdom are aligned with the higher destiny of the universe.

“In mid-life I awoke one day and realized my life was half over and I had changed no one SO I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change those close around me who so much needed it.

“Alas, now I am old and my prayer is simpler. ‘Allah,’ I ask, ‘please give me the strength to at least change myself.’”

This piece is written for those who come later and those who might wonder how to make this world a little better. This formula (and Plan) has long existed; it is relatively easy to describe, but more complex to in act.

The Formula

First, work on yourself to become the best version of yourself. Second, join hands with others and contribute to making your family, community and world better. Finally in each thought/action reach higher; seek to take the high road: expressing the highest part of self.

The Inner Journey

The inner journey begins by realizing the potential within and the potential within us all, collectively. Within each there is an empty space that we seek to fill with all kinds of things, people and pursuits. This primal emptiness is part of the reason we came to this planet/realm. We came here to fully express ourselves both as spiritual and physical beings; this emptiness serves as a friction which pushes us forward always searching for that missing piece; wanting more and pushing ourselves to go further. Without it, we would be more or less content with our circumstance and rarely seek to travel further. It is the fire in our belly to go and do, seek and become.

Filling the Empty Place

Ultimately, this empty place is to be filled with The Light of Eternity; once this missing piece has been identified and added to the mix: higher learning and more purposeful living might begin. You see, in a sense, we were born incomplete so the Light might fill this empty place with spiritual energy and more fully incorporate our other talents; and we have what is termed- The Completed Person.

One of the characteristics of this individual, who has reached spiritual completion, is that they are equally concerned about themselves as they are about others. Realizing that if people are to reach their full potential they must be given opportunity to go and become; also realizing that if their brother is hungry, they in a sense are hungry as well. For you see, having experienced the interconnectedness of all living things through the Light, they realize the Higher Potential can only be accomplished if people focus and work together.

Helping Others

The world is a mess right now, because people are not working together to help each other. There are too many takers; key individuals are overly concerned for themselves and are not considering their brothers/sisters at the level necessary. This is the situation where some self-interest is necessary to healthy living but over concern leads to selfishness: which is harmful to self and others.

The first step in making the world better: is to work on yourself; to become the best person that you are capable of becoming. Find out who you are, what talents you have and how they might be incorporated into the world. Each of us has come here with a skill set that will help us fulfill our life plan. This life plan is designed so that you can reach personal excellence and in the process make the world a better place. Better individuals working together help create better outcomes.

Each of us has an individual spiritual destiny and humanity has a collective destiny as well. Through the Light, the entire universe is evolving upward, returning to the place of Origin. When the souls were created they were sent out into the universe with a cosmic mission; to go and create, returning one day more complete in understanding and increased capacity to be One with The Creative Element.

In the earth phase, because of the contrast between the spiritual and physical, greater opportunity exists to create and join with the Creative Element. Within each soul there is an aspect that is most like this Creative Element; it is this aspect which will lead us home through the many worlds and is our compass through the dark night.

Compromise & the Lower Soul

One of the characteristics of the lower self is that it wants what it wants and reluctantly compromises. Yet, compromise is an essential aspect to living in a family and community; yet it is something which is difficult for the lower soul to learn and accept. Hence, for most there is an ongoing friction between what we want and what the situation may demand.

We see this trait in young children particularly when they are focused on doing something: they will scream and shout- yell and cry, ‘I want it now.’ While the response from an adult may be a little more subtle; still the intent is often the same: wanting things their way. The desire to control is a very ancient part of us, and talks to our need for survival and directing our destiny.

Sometimes, this need to have our own way stands in the way of our living harmoniously with others; also it can be an impediment to accepting solutions to complex problems. Sometimes, we have to give-in a little and accept outcomes that we don’t want to accept. A compromise is a way of settling differences, by everyone making some concession and often meeting halfway. It implies giving in a little and this is something which is very, very difficult for the untrained lower soul to do; the lower soul wants to be in charge dictating outcomes.

One of the biggest learning experiences for me was the advent of having children. I had to learn to give-up my time and help care for them. While I personally wanted to sleep, my wife and I took turns doing the middle of the night feeding. The lower soul in me was yelling stay in bed, and higher soul was saying, get-up and care for your young one. What made this easier was the love in my heart and it pushed me forward and helped get me out of bed.

Until all people see this dynamic working in themselves and rise above it; the need to get what we want (stay in bed) as opposed to what the situation requires (feed the babe); there will be friction and lack of harmony.

Caring For My Neighbor

Why should I care about my neighbor? There are many reasons to do so. First nobody lives in isolation; we are social creatures who depend upon each other for our survival and quality of life. Second, if my neighbor is hungry and sick; at some point, these troubling conditions will affect me directly. I may catch whatever disease is affecting my neighbor and eventually no matter his restraint, one day if he continues to stay hungry, he will knock on my door demanding food.

We see this throughout history; eventually, oppressed people turn against their oppressors and take back whatever is rightfully theirs. This is a vicious cycle and our best chance for co-existence is mutual sharing of resources.

Conclusion

The Sufi Call offers, within our universe, there is a primal energy that is life giving, loving and all knowing. This energy is the enabling factor and in time, through a guided course of study, the individual learns to embrace and use this primordial element. Having a part of this element within, slowly the individual recognizes this energy as the Source of their inner burning.

In the journey to completion, each is the prodigal son/daughter who returns, with spiritual capacity and is embraced by their Father/Mother to share in the kingdom and their birth right.

Then, gradually as intended, the world becomes a better place: one person at a time.

___________

** Posted on Facebook, by Eric Twose, The Caravanserai Page, 7/1/16, 9:51 am.

 

 

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Sufis & The Secret Teaching

By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff

A real secret is something which only one person knows.
-Idris Shah

The purpose of this paper is to examine what the Sufis have to offer and a hidden or inner, spiritual teaching called by some The Secret Teaching. Rumors of this esoteric Secret Teaching have existed since the beginning of time and for most periods in human history aspects of this teaching could not be publicly revealed. Historically for its proponents, to reveal such a Teaching has led to death and considerable misunderstanding.

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Because we are living in a more open age, a discussion about this topic may be undertaken with some of the elements of this Teaching identified. In part, the Sufis see their role as guardians of this inner, sacred knowledge; offering this previously hidden information/teaching because the elements have combined. It is now the right time, right place and the right people have gathered.

Right time, right place, right people equals success.
Wrong time, wrong place, wrong people, equals most of the real human history.
-Idris Shah

Historical Background

Since the beginning of man/woman’s appearance on this planet there has been a continual succession of spiritual teachers. This mostly hidden chain of Masters has protected and shared Spiritual Knowledge with those people who were capable of using it. Throughout the ages, the external form of this Knowledge has changed to meet the shifting needs of different societies and geographical regions, yet, internally all the Great Religious Forms are united in the Light.

Some have called this Way of Knowing, the Perennial Philosophy, the Secret Teaching or the One True Religion. In ages past it was offered by the Adepts in the Great Pyramid, it was the Gold of Alchemy and in more modern times the Wine that the Sufi becomes intoxicated with. Historically some of its exponents have included: Raymond Lully, Roger Bacon, Paracelsus, Geber, Albertus Magnus, St. Thomas Aquinas and different Popes such as Pope Silvester II just too name a few.*

What is this Secret Teaching you ask? It is an inner spiritual knowing or experience of the Divine, and assumes an ever changing and evolving external form so it may be understood and we may grasp and use it. For our age offered below are some of the key aspects of this life altering elixir. Here take a sip of this wondrous, spiritual wine and may you grow closer to your true lasting self.

The Message

The message has always been the same. We are the ones who have forgotten. The religion is one and humanity has a common Source. Over time because people are different, culturally, messengers and religious forms vary. This confuses people.

The Light is the binding force of the universe and is the mother and father of us all. It is the great river from which we all came. On the surface the river’s water shifts due to changing currents and wind. Yet beneath the surface the water remains calm and tranquil.

In this age people are frightened and searching for something to help ease their fear and unite them. It is there but we have forgotten to go deep and embrace our common spiritual heritage.

Within each the Light is waiting to bring us Home and illume the darkness.

Selected Aspects

The following 15 points concerning the Secret Teaching are offered. Ultimately this Teaching is spiritual, taking on a physical form as required so that it may be known. These points or aspects are not considered exclusive to this Teaching and are found in other spiritual forms; indicating a level of connectivity between the differing forms and paths.

One Family. All the religions are one. Humanity is one family and we have come here to express more fully who we are and join in creation with the Source.

Individual Expression of the Source. In the Universe there is a uniting and primal energy that connects all things- some call this energy, the Source or God. We are a unique expression of this energy/creative force and have come here to more fully understand our relationship to this energy and sing its praise -joining in- with the melody of the spheres/universe as mature creative beings.

The Duality. While in this world, we can experience and express our self in many ways. We have left the world of spirit and entered into a world of forms. This duality of spirit and physical form, which is beautifully endless, further confuses people and they get caught-up and forget who they are- their duality. They are both physical and beings of Light, spiritual travelers, going from world to world expressing them self in many ways and the highest form of expression is always loving and helping another.

Disconnect from Spirit. Because we have entered a world of physical forms there is a basic duality and seeming disconnect from our higher, spiritual nature. Here in this world, we can both destroy and create- this is our birth right; the traveler who doesn’t give-in to his/her basic or lower self has learned to conquer his own obstacles and is on his way to fuller expression of the higher self. The higher self is always connected to the Source, and knows on an inner, spiritual level where it is going and the point of the long journey. We came here to be creators and join in King/Queen ship with the Source.

World Problems. All of the problems of living in this world are due to spiritual travelers forgetting who they are and giving into their lower self; this selfishness comes in many forms and is root cause of the destruction due to war and individual greed that routinely expresses itself on this planet.

Empty Place. Within each of us there is an empty place, a longing for our Home beyond the stars; this longing pushes us forward to fill the empty place within and remember who we are-Beings of Light- who have come here to express who we are in a multiplicity of form.

Forgetting Who We Are. Because of the beauty and variety of this physical world, many travelers get caught-up, forgetting for a time who they are and try to fill this empty place with all manner of things/people. For a time, they are ‘ill,’ have ‘world sickness’ and go about looking for the cure: which is spiritual knowing and Light. The Paths and servants exist, in part, to help others find their way back Home; starting the return journey, spiritually, while in this present physical form.

Love & Fear. All human emotions arise out of 2 basic, primal expressions of the physical duality; these are love and fear. Fear drives the lower nature and can cause people to think of self over others; while love is the ultimate expression of the higher self and most perfectly aligns with the Source. The higher nature is always connected with the Source; while the lower nature is concerned with personal physical expression and when exaggerated causes us to forget and drown out the call of the Higher.

Remember. When the spiritual remembers who we are- this is a beginning of conscious spiritual awareness and learning to express self more fully in a spiritual form.

Each Soul is Unique. Each traveler is a unique individual expression of the Source and as such has many unique capacities. Each has come here to express these capacities, helping self and others; more fully understand who they are.

Passing On. The very nature of the physical experience, because it is tied to time and place, is transitory and we must travel on. We have come here for a brief afternoon in the timeless eternity and take with us to the next place our love and all the love we share with people, other creatures and all the wonderful things we create in expressing our higher self.

Forgiving Self & Others. Those expressions of the lower self remain attached to us for a time, until we learn to shed them and reach higher. Through love these creations are altered and return to the universal ether. Forgiving self and others, we learn to travel higher.

Many Levels of Help. Throughout our stay in this world, we are helped by many, as we are helped by the Source with the life giving energy of the Light. This assistance comes in spiritual and physical form; many are assigned these tasks.

Inner Knowing. The Secret Teaching is an inner spiritual knowing and experience of the Source and its outer form is contained, in part, by the words offered here. Humanity is one family- all the religions are one- and the ills and evils of this world are due to traveler’s excess- putting their lower need before their higher and the need of others.

Listen to Your Heart. If you wish to know who you are- then travel inward; go beyond religion, go beyond fear; find your inner center or heart. Listen to its whisper for it will lead you Home and is always connected with the Source. Everyone is a beam of Light from a larger Sun and none is different in this regard.

The Religions

Traveler:  There is only One God, or the Light,
Yet there are many paths and religions,
Why is this so?

Master: Each traveler finds God/Light
In a different way.
One traveler may seek salvation
As a loving spouse and parent
And another may find God’s Face
On a distant shore.

Each traveler is a universe
And in this vast expanse
It is easy to go astray.
Only the Light’s Grace
Leads the traveler home.

Religion may be compared
To a great river that feeds the land.
The river winds its way as a mighty force
And smaller tributaries are formed
To serve the distant regions.
Some travelers are satisfied
To drink of the smaller stream
And forget they must travel
The river to its Source.
Beyond the river’s gate,
The Ocean is waiting.

Traveler:  Where is the boat
To journey the river
For I am ready to depart?

Master: O little one, you are so eager;
Yet you are already assail
And your soul is the vessel.
Your heart is the compass
And the Light’s Mercy is the breeze
At your back.

If you bow in prayer to the Light,
The Light will provide all you need
And Guide you to the Ocean.

Conclusion

For a time many forget who they are become lost and strike-out in selfishness and greed; this is the basic duality of the experience we have chosen to experience. To rise higher, remember who you are: a Child of Light and have brought with you everything you need for this experience; this knowing and love will help you with your journey through this world and the worlds to come.

Both Idris Shah quotes taken from Goodreads, accessed on 3/11/16, 9:10 am: www.goodreads.com/quotes/a-real-secret-is-something-which-only-one-person-knows.

For more information about The Secret Doctrine and other great historical exponents, the reader is referred to: Idries Shah, The Sufis, The Octagon Press, London, 1964, pg. 243.

­­­­­­About Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Check out his book on Amazon: The Appleseed Journal.
Buy on Amazon: www.bit.ly/amazonappleseed.

 

 

 

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Expectation & Emotion

by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff

If you could get rid
Of yourself just once,
The secret of secrets
Would open to you.
The face of the unknown,
Hidden beyond the universe
Would appear on the
Mirror of your perception.
-Rumi

Each spiritual traveler is born into a world of expectation. Daily, behavior and societal standards are presented by family, friends, co-workers, country, religion and self.

Over time these expectations form our operating system and world view. We want to go and do based upon what we have been taught and what we desire for self and others; expectations set standards for behavior that have attached to them a whole series of emotions. For example, joy at accomplishing our goal or sadness if we fail.

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This set of personal expectations, in time, can entrap and bind- yet serves an essential function for society as a whole; and is often the basis for daily behavior.

For the spiritual traveler, these are the chains that must be temporarily broken. Cognitively and emotionally they are a door that blocks inner awareness. Attached to expectations are emotions that enrich and help make us human. However in a spiritual quest, they fill our consciousness and must be stilled temporarily so the Higher Impulse can be perceived. In this context, emotions and expectations are ‘a noise’ in our consciousness: blocking other things from happening.

Many times, spiritual travelers are unaware, because these expectations are hidden, that it is precisely these sub-conscious thoughts, along with their emotional attachments, that are blocking spiritual progress. In a spiritual quest, typical expectation sets run something like this.

  • I have been meditating for five years and surely something should have happened by now. Or I cannot meditate for more than 2 minutes and surely this inability must be holding me back.
  • Everyone knows, “we have been given enough for the journey;’ therefore I can pick and choose what I like from different paths. This technique has worked for me in so many other areas of life (i.e., picking a vocation, car and job).
  • When performing spiritual exercises, praying, or doing good works we all have an expectation about how we will be rewarded; for example this activity will make me a good person, I will gain in good works and I feel good helping others. When the spiritual traveler has these often hidden feelings; these feelings become their reward and they do not travel further. This mind set is a form of ‘spiritual greed’ and must be disarmed by a neutral mental posture.
  • When I reach a high level of spirituality, my life will be perfect and complete. Spiritual knowledge is one aspect of a healthy life; spiritual awareness serves as a catalyst to enable other things to happen.
  • I love to meditate and pray; it makes me feel so peaceful and I am One with everything. Or I feel so good when I work at the soup kitchen, helping the homeless. Think about the emotional attachment.

In order to maximize spiritual potential, the traveler must learn to recognize when their expectation set is operating. Also the traveler must learn to differentiate between an emotional and a spiritual experience. While expectations and emotions are an important part of healthy living, for many, because they have not been disarmed- both become an obstacle to spiritual learning and experience.

You are a potential
Waiting to bud.

You are the door;
This blocks your way.
Pick-up the key.
Open the lock.

The key is inside of you.

Why do travelers
Have so much trouble accepting
We came into this world
To express our higher selves
And grow closer to God?

While our time in this world
Serves a multitude of purposes,
In some respect, it will have been wasted
Unless we come to accept this unifying principle.

Check-out my two books: Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life and The Ferryman’s Dream.  Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.

If you are interested in learning more about universal mysticism and Sufism, contact: drbitkoff@yahoo.com.

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