In the Company of the Master

June 30, 2015

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

banbury gateThe following anecdote is a lovely remembrance of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (1926-2008), Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order. It will be included in the forthcoming book, Tales of the Sufi Master.

___________________________

I leave dry Santa Fe and arrive in the misty green English countryside. Here, every taxi driver knows the way to the Old Windmill farm, twenty-four acres of fruit trees, flowers, and deep bed vegetable gardens. A dog and a welcoming party greet me at the center gate.

I sleep in a brick grain tower with a spiraling staircase winding up three floors of wall lined bookcases, attached to an old Tudor house. Surprisingly, I meet an old friend I haven’t seen in years. We “room” together on the second landing of the tower. Rugs, snakeskins, dream catchers – a vast collection of gifts accumulated from international guests also line the walls. Master’s room in the main house is overflowing with flowers and gifts; weird and yet strangely beautiful and humorous at the same time. More gifts hang on the walls; an array of musical instruments rest by the fireplace in the large meditation room. The breezeway connects the Master’s room with the meditation room.

My hair discovers its African roots in the mist. It is happy in its short ringlets. It is as relaxed as my skin. But I can’t only claim the climate for the change. Lack of stress has conditioned my hair here and moisturized my skin. Lines are there but they sit easy on my face.

I garden, weeding for two weeks solid, and then for a change plant flowers. But here is where words fail me. I am laughing, crying, talking to myself and seem to be opening up with each weed I pull, with each flower I plant. At one point I lie down on a mound of earth blissfully holding on like a child to its mother.

I am left alone while others work together in the apple orchard. While all this is happening Master comes and goes, instructing me in the proper conduct of life, my life. But not with many words; a laugh, a demonstration regarding attention to details, intuition, a word or two, a stern word, a loving word, a look…and so it goes. I pay close attention and pray I learn. I never finish an area of work, I never complete a project; Master moves me on to another project. One time the rain began to come down heavily but I didn’t hear anyone call me in. When a few finally yelled to come in for lunch, I ran upstairs to clean up, got in line to welcome Master, as we could see him from the window screens in the breezeway. He stopped, looked down at the one flower I neglected to plant when called in. It was still in my hand. He didn’t look at me, he looked at the plant in hand amid the pouring rain. I left the line, went out and planted the flower. They all waited until I cleaned up and came down again. So it goes.

There are about fifteen others here. I am happy to see “Bruja”Jane; mistress of the garden. It’s been three years sine I’ve seen her. In my enthusiasm I weed more than just weeds. Actually, one of her prized African lily seedling. She asks where is her prized African lily and I freeze. I think I heard myself say, “I’m sorry.” She wasn’t angry but…So I’m thinking I know less about weeds that I thought I did. I ask her this time to take me around the garden and point out those that are and are not weeds. My ego is not feeling too good.

I see Mr. Niktab, the Shaykh of Shaykhs, walking slowly in his 80 years and recent knee surgery. He uses a cane and only walks short distances. He has been a darvish for maybe 40 years. He mirrors-lives only to serve the Master. A sudden spring arises in my eyes and travels down my face as I see him walk by. Maybe the years he came to visit the Seattle center, maybe the years he spoke to me, have finally found a way into my heart. He danced that night for Master in our sama gathering. I am certain he used no cane.

I massage the Master’s feet and he tells me I’m not strong enough. Two days later he asks for a massage again and tells the person sitting next to me how strong my hands are. He tells me how young I look one day and tells me not to help serving lunch the next day because I am too old, I should just sit. So it goes. I realize he is training me and every person that sincerely comes before him, relentlessly, tirelessly, patiently, never saying directly what to do. But I am weak, broken, wounded by the mere outskirts of life, in search for understanding, in search of myself. I look up at the sky, pregnant with the possibility of rain again, and then it rains and then the sun shines and the process begins again and it’s all very simple and clear here. I am not thinking of my departure.

The dynamics of the fifteen or so of us keep shifting as some leave and new beggars arrive. We are kind here. We want to be. We want to serve. Our ego-the dragon-liquid fire is with us. We are aware of it as it comes and goes, tricks us, shifts, but maybe we are more vigilant here and try not to hold on, just let it come and go.

However, the two weeks are over and Master boots me out of Paradise. The list of my my unvoiced questions have somehow been answered. Master had delivered on his promise, and tells me I must return to pick apples in September. That, too, is enigma. At this point in time I am to begin a new teaching job in September. At this point in time it seems impossible.

He yells at me “goodbye” the night before I leave in a very unattractive sound and the next morning I stumble out of bed 3:30am for a 4:30am cab. In the kitchen, one darvish has made it a point to get up with me and serve me tea, bread, cheese and honey before I leave…with a hug goodbye. What a loving 4:30am.

I have been home now for one month and have not “recovered.” My dragon is a little more active and my tears are like rain clouds overflowing onto the lush countryside of longing. I yearn to return but I know the work is inward and I must live in this world too as I have lived there.

– Carole Ross, July, 1998

Ya Haqq!

 


In Memory of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh

October 8, 2014

master picSalaam and Greetings of Peace:

Friday, October 10th is the six year anniversary of the death of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, for over 50 years the Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, and for 17 years, my Master (may God bless his soul and raise him to the highest rank of His beloveds. Ameen!).

To commemorate the occasion, his own poem is a fitting tribute to his life and station:

My Heart Holds Your Home,

my head desiring You;

Night and day have all passed,

while I am pledged to You.

I have suffered at the hand

of the people of the time;

In the world I’ve only seen

fidelity from You.

I’ve been drunk with Your wine

Since pre-eternity;

I’m surrendered to Your will

till post-eternity.

I’ve no hope for heaven

or for the Resurrection;

I have never wanted

anyone but You.

Once I realized that in reality

the Path cannot be traveled

Except on Your feet,

I lost both my head and feet.

With every breath I take

I am conscious of You;

I gave up heart and soul

for contentment from You.

If, like Nurbakhsh, you have pledged

yourself wholeheartedly to God;

The creation then will be ready

to pledge itself to you.

– from the Divani Nurbakhsh: Sufi Poetry

Ya Haqq!


A Bed for a Sufi

August 18, 2014

master picSalaam and Greetings of Peace:

Many years ago, on one of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh’s annual visits to the US, he was staying at the New York khaniqah when one of the long time darvishes, who was also studying to become a Persian scholar, said that his parents wanted to meet the Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, of whom they had heard so much about, and he was invited to visit their home in Westchester County, New York. and have dinner with them. The Master  gladly accepted the invitation, and since it was a journey that would require them to stay overnight, they drove up in the early afternoon, arriving just in time for dinner.

The darvish’s parents lived in a converted farmhouse, and were delighted to have such a reknown Sufi Master as their guest.  They prepared an excellent dinner, though the Master, as was his custom, ate sparingly, and, although he spoke some English, conversed through their son, who was fluent in Farsi.  As bedtime approached, the father said that the Master was to use the master bedroom so that he would be comforable.  And they showed him a large room with a king-sized bed and adjoining bathroom.

The Master shook his head. “This is not a bed for a Sufi,” he said.

“But it’s the only bed in the house. Our son is sleeping in the other bedroom, and we are going to stay with friends,” his father said.

The Master thought for moment.  “There is another bed here,” he insisted.

The darvish’s parents were bewildered. “No, really,” the mother said. “There is nothing else… well ,except for the mattress in the old Chicken Coop. The kids used it as a clubhouse when they were young.”

The Master asked to see it, and they led him around the back of the house to an old wooden Chicken Coop. They brought a lantern as there was no electricity in the coop, and showed him the plain interior.  It was empty now, though recently swept out, with an old single mattress on the floor.

“Yes,’ the Master said, smiling. “This is a bed for a Sufi.”

Ya Haqq!


The Sufi Master’s Prayer

October 20, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

O God, illuminate my outer being with obedience to You, and my inner being with loving-kindness for You, and my heart with direct knowledge of You, and my spirit with intimate vision of You, and my essence with the ability of reach Thy Throne. O Glorious and Exalted One!

O God, illuminate my heart and my ears and my eyes and my tongue and my hands and my feet and my entire body. O Light of all Lights!

O God, show me things as they truly are.

O God, wherever I turn, be before me; in whatever direction I go, be my destination; in every endeavor of mine, be my aim; in times of difficulty and sorrow, be my refuge and support; in every undertaking, be my advocate; and through Thy Grace and Loving-kindness, take up my actions in Thy Strength.

God’s greetings be upon Mohammad and his family, the noblest of all families.

– adapted from the Kebrit-e Ahmar (Red Sulpher) of Munawwar Ali-Shah Kermani, one of the past Masters of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, and taken from In the Paradise of the Sufis by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh

Ya Haqq!

Note: Kebrit-e ahmar, or red sulphur. is the vital factor in transforming lead to gold for the alchemists. It is used metaphorically by the Sufis to indicate the energy and baraka, the hal, spirit or charisma, of the Master, which is the active agent in transforming the leaden nafs-dominated ordinary state of the human being into the golden, heart-led state of the developed Sufi.


In Memory of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh

October 8, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

October 10th is the four year anniversary of the death of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, for over 50 years the Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, and for 17 years, my Master (may God bless his soul and raise him to the highest rank of His beloveds. Ameen!).

To commemorate the occasion, his own poem is a fitting tribute to his life and station:

My heart holds Your home,

my head desiring You;

Night and day have all passed,

while I am pledged to You.

I have suffered at the hand

of the people of the time;

In the world I’ve only seen

fidelity from You.

I’ve been drunk with Your wine

Since pre-eternity;

I’m surrendered to Your will

till post-eternity.

I’ve no hope for heaven

or for the Resurrection;

I have never wanted

anyone but You.

Once I realized that in reality

the Path cannot be traveled

Except on Your feet,

I lost both my head and feet.

With every breath I take

I am conscious of You;

I gave up heart and soul

for contentment from You.

If, like Nurbakhsh, you have pledged

yourself wholeheartedly to God;

The creation then will be ready

to pledge itself to you.

– from the Divani Nurbakhsh: Sufi Poetry

Ya Haqq!


Love is the Answer to Every Question – In Memory of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh

December 10, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

December 10th, would have been the 85th birthday of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (12/10/1926 – 10/10/2008), the late and beloved Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.  In his memory, this poem is dedicated.

Love is the answer
to every question

An ocean emerging
from a drop

This you taught us, by your
every action, every word,

The revealed science
of the heart, the key

to every door that is
never locked to anyone

To serve the One,
serve all, you said,

Eat but a little,
Feed the soul instead

As long as life
remains, and then

The drop returns
again to the Ocean of

Love, of love, of love
Ya Pir! Ya Haqq!


Interview on the Law of Attraction and Meditation

August 11, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A new, short interview with me has been posted on the Egyptian Code blog, with some interesting questions and answers :)  For those interested, it can be read HERE.

Ya Haqq!


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