Sufi Masters and Disciples of Imagination

May 26, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A man came to Sufi Master Bahaudin Shah Naqshband and said: “First I followed this teacher and then that one. Next I studied these books and then those. I feel that although I know nothing of you and your teachings, this experience has been slowly preparing me to learn from you.”

Bahaudin Shah said: “Nothing you have learned in the past will help you here. If you are to stay with us, you’ll have to abandon all pride in the past. That is a form of self-congratulation.”

This is true of any mystical path, and almost every initiate, and is a product of their subjective thinking and ego-centered imagination, the very habits the Master strives to cure them of.  As my own late Master, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, noted in one of this lectures, Sufis Who Are Disciples of Their Own Imaginations:

Most people who are drawn to the path of Sufism and become disciples of a master have, in fact, an image of the master in their minds, expecting the master to act according to this subjective image of theirs. If, after a while, they come to conclude that the master is not acting according to their mental image, they decide to leave this master, because, from their point of view, the master has not performed according to their expectations, and in point of fact they expect the master to be the disciple of their own mental image, otherwise they conclude that he or she is not a good master.

For ages the saying has been “The master’s infidelity is the disciple’s faith,” meaning that if the master says something contrary to the disciple’s beliefs, or does something against the disciple’s wishes, and the disciple remains loyal to him, it is proof that the disciple truly has faith in the master. There are very few disciples in the school of Sufism who love their master as he is and not as they would like him to be. For this reason, a true Sufi is a rare thing in this world. Most come through their imagination, and leave through their imagination.

- Edited from Discourses on the Sufi Path, by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh.

Ya Haqq!


The Question of Consciousness

May 21, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

What is it about us that ultimately make us who we are? Our genetic nature, upbringing, culture, religion? If it is a combination of all of them that defines the way we think and feel about things, the way we treat family and friends, the way we think about ourselves, then what is left when all of that is changed or dissipated or lost?

The human mind is a wondrous and fragile thing, a spongy mass protected by a hard shell of bone, and I have known bright, articulate men who, after head injuries, became sad, babbling idiots. I have known dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, including my father, who could barely recognize his own children. What conclusion can be made other than that the mind, the so called seat of consciousness, that central sense of self and ego that imagines the world and visualizes thoughts in 3 dimensions, depends on nothing more than the proper workings of the electro-chemical transmitters in the grey matter of the brain.

And if that is so, what is this “soul” then, this spark, this essential presence said to be within us that is a speck of the Divine Mind, a mote of the Godhead? Is it this undetectable soul that causes us to breathe in reverence the name of God when we glance upward toward the heavens? Is it this mote without locus that is the better angel of our natures, the mirror that when polished reflects God’s light?

It may indeed be so, and even if we come to a state of confusion and memory loss due to age or disease or injury, that place is inviolate; the higher self of consciousness and awareness.

But when consciousness dissipates after death, does awareness remain? My own out of body experience, that I have written about here, suggests that it does in some form. This question was also once put to Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, late Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order. He said in answer, “A drop falls into the ocean and becomes one with the ocean, but it does not lose its wetness.”

God knows the truth!

Ya Haqq!


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