Learning How to Learn
The Principles of Health and Education in Islamic Sufism
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Self-realization is a spiritually motivated process, but getting to know the self is getting to know the soul in its innate, unfettered nature, and this is a stated purpose of all religions, and especially the religion of Islam. And nothing could be healthier. Knowing the soul is listening to divine guidance, and divine guidance heals like no other energy there is.
"Good health and longevity
are secondary effects
Islam calls to the Truth of God. It is regretful that the violence of the angry has been allowed to carry the banner of Islam and that the Western media has fallen prey to such an untrue representation. Even though major news broadcasters have done much work to correct that impression, and many in the media are trying hard to give the faith of one fifth of the world's population a fair shot, it's an uphill battle, to say the least. But in spite of the media war it behooves the thinking person to reason clearly about the existence and the reasons for the existence of Islam, and investigate it to one's own satisfaction. Strange as it may seem, material acquisition is not the only purpose for life. And even if it were, discovery of the authentic self, or soul-recognition, would still be the best way to accomplish that success.
So self-realization has become a religion in it's own right, with all the enlightenment schools as its congregations, and all the teachers as its preachers. And it is obvious to the self-realized that self-realization is a goal of religions, and most assuredly, Christianity. Christ was born realized (the original Indigo child) and invited all to the ways of the realized. And the Sufis claim that Islam is no different in this respect, but that it adds further knowledge from God that was not previously revealed. Not only does it behoove enlightened and self-realized masters to study all religions but, in the light of the Sufis, especially Islam.
It is the claim of the second portion of my work that just such a study is the key to "Abidance", which is the word I'm using to indicate the perception of staying positively in the love of God and the realization of the true self. It is the realized self that understands most the need for forward movement and is still on the search for it, even though the first stage of the search has ended, and discovery has been made. The truth of oneself has been found, but now what?
As I've written before, we are faced with two choices. One is to move forward and the other is to stand still. Both work, but the latter is fraught with the difficulty of dealing with the memories of the past, which continue to arise even though the truth has been discovered and their illusory power can be dispelled.
But we have not totally completed the individuation process until we have separated from the process. We have not separated from the individuation process until we are no longer involved in it.We must then necessarily involve ourselves in something else, but in what? In what way can we become involved that will continue to affirm and confirm the truth and reality of our truths and realities? These are the human questions for seeking guidance from The Real - forward into deeper truth, and away from the struggle against illusions and reactions to "ghosts" and memories from our so-called "past". This is the asking for the "Way to Stay", or Abidance. And in response to this prayer/search for guidance, we are sent religion/guidance. Religion is for everyone and guidance is for each.
We are encouraged thereby to complete our detachment from struggling with the enemy by engaging with the Love of the Friend. And with that ends the search for the means for Abidance.
Healing is a matter of individuation and re-education.
But how can we do this if the only way we know Allah is through ourselves? Simply by coming with our true selves to the aid of Allah and His people, namely the religion of Islam. It doesn't need you but invites your support. You do this by stepping into your mastery of self-realization and soul recognition in surrender, and inviting others to it. By learning and teaching the religion of Islam in the Sufi (Pure) way. That's why the Sufi way is the way of the masters. In the end, it's only the masters that you can teach, anyway.
Islam is the religion of the Surrender with which we are all so familiar and in the reality of which we wish so fervently to abide, and it is the guidance we seek, to Allah, from Allah, by Allah and for Allah. But study it, learn it and teach it in the Sufi way, the way of the practice first, the teaching by example, the attaining of mastery before the teaching of mastery.
Either we are guided by the struggle with our selves, or we are guided by positive religious and spiritual direction. It's a choice. If we are guided by the struggle we are guided and thereby controlled by our selves. Then do we feel lonely, isolated, unsupported, and un-helped? If we are guided by positive religious and spiritual direction, them we are guided by Allah, free, and supported by that guidance.
The therapeutic psychology of Islam, as I've mentioned before, is that of offering the same forward motion for the two groups of people. For the healthy and the sick, the realized and burdened, the victim and the master the medicine and direction is the same, whether we are administering it to others or taking it for ourselves. It is simply the motivation that is different. For the ill and the burdened, the motive is health and enlightenment. For the healthy and enlightened, the motive is staying there by learning and serving, i.e. "Abidance". So it becomes obvious that we must help others to do "this thing that we do" in order to stay "helped" (by Allah) ourselves. So "Stepping Forward into Mastery" is the course to avoid falling back into the "Release from Victim" process. Unless, of course, you want to stay there.
It's just like the war of liberation. The slaves cannot
but with the help of the liberators, they can. But once they are
what is there to do if their habits are those of slaves fighting for
One solution is to join the liberators and focus on becoming one. So we
study and practice their teachings. And we do it out of gratitude.
Learning how to learn
It is difficult to learn while we are still fighting the war of liberation. As I will discuss at greater length in another essay, ("Seven Selves - the Sufi Pathway to Perfect God- Realization"), the work of liberation or the experience of surrender and self-discovery is covered in the first four steps of a classical seven step learning process. The understanding of and means to Abidance is provided in the final three stages of that process, which deal with self-education - learning and teaching - learning what to teach and how to teach it. The first half is liberation and experience. The second half is education. The balance is completion.
In the first half we must release the control that the mind has over the heart, that we can experience the heart to its fullest and thereby know the Reality of God. Soon after abiding in the reality of God long enough the mind will become a totally clear vessel which will seek, by its own nature, to be full again. At this point we must begin the re-education process by filling it with the holy teachings of Islam, otherwise it will naturally gravitate to the familiar feelings of grappling with and sympathy for the victim.
About sympathy for the
The master knows that there are no victims, only M.O.'s (Methods of Operation - contrived ways and means of getting what one thinks one needs or wants). But we don't get to that knowledge without direct education.
MO's are contrived agreements that the self makes with the outside world in order to do what appears necessary to survive. These agreements with the outside world are consciously approved of as temporarily satisfactory and accepted by the soul, with the knowledge that the day will come when they can and will be removed. But the MO's becomes veils to our true reality, concealing it from others and eventually ourselves. We soon become addicted to, believers in and victims of our own self-created MO's, even the MO of being a victim.
It is the choices we make that "make" us victims. We may deliberately throw ourselves to the wolves in search of sympathy, which is just another MO for seeking companionship. The underlying motivation for seeking companionship is the desire for self-recognition, which is already provided by the self. It is simply deliberately not focused upon due to a belief that it is not what we are looking for, or will not get us what we think we want. It is thence forgotten.
Sympathy for the victim is collusion and does not help
Helping the master to emerge is the whole point of the exercise. If we
are not detached from the victim within ourselves then we will identify
with it in others. This does not help. In reality, we are only trapped
by ourselves and by the decisions we've made. When we get to the point
of realizing that, we can realize our ability to change our decisions
thereby change our lives. If we cannot help another master emerge from
his victim then we are not yet in mastery ourselves. Seeking the direct
help and guidance of a realized master for this dilemma is the best
one can do for oneself and the others around one.
Some people are
for pity and willing to pay for it. Many are those ready to provide it.
But underlying it all is the soul's search for freedom, and few they
who can confirm that.
For the Sufis, it is the mastery of the religion of Islam that brings the completion of the knowledge of Allah. And that cannot be had by harboring any resistances to it, but by a whole and open-hearted acceptance of it, which can be acquired by learning from one who has it already. This is why it is taught that the focusing on Allah and the teaching of Islam is the straight way to and in the heaven of our hearts, which is the real life, for it fills our minds with the Truth from and our hearts with, the Love of Allah.
Abidance is the second half of the way. Learning about the religion of Islam is the first step of Abidance, for it is the way to walk and stay in the love of Allah, and teaching it is the second, although they go hand in hand. These two stages of self-education are represented by the Arabic words "Radhiyyatan", "Mardhiyyah", Pleased and Pleasing. They are the fifth and sixth stations of the self. We are "pleased" with what we are learning (from Allah) (for it draws us "closer", and because we now know its significance and "how" to learn it), and we are "pleasing" to God and others when we teach it and set other free by means of our teaching.
These are the stations of Mureed and Murad, Desiring and Desired. And this part of the work is referred to as "Sulook", or "Seeking the good pleasure of Allah". The completion of the Sulook is the completion of the Self. When Allah is "pleased" with us, we are "pleased" with ourselves. And Allah is pleased with us when we are seeking his pleasure through learning His religion with the intention to teach and pass it on. Students with the intention of the master will succeed. Students with the intentions of the student must change.
But enough! Enjoy the essays as they progress through my own discoveries as I plow the way through my own life in an attempt to chronicle, evaluate and disseminate them to my students and readers on the website.
In Peace and Love, Salaam and Namaste