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Sufism and Mystical Discipline

To: alt.magick.tyagi,talk.philosophy.meta,alt.consciousness.mysticism,alt.sufi,alt.islam.sufism
From: (haramullah)
Subject: Sufism and Mystical Discipline
Date: 12 Jan 1999 12:35:41 -0800

49980521 aa2 

assalam alaykum, my kin! (apparently quoting Kenneth, Jacob and Joshua Shaw):
# Mr.  Sabourie talked about the "self" as contrasted with the "I".  
# He said that the "self" is simply an accretion of externally 
# imposed neurological conditioning, 

interesting.  sometimes people will describe this the other way
'round, with the 'I' being the essential, the 'self' being the
persona or mask.  the terminology is probably unimportant as long
as the concept is understood.

# and the "I" is the actual "experiencer" that came into this 
# world from someplace else.  

some of us don't believe that there is a consistent experiencer
or, for that matter, that 'it' came 'from someplace else' (like
some sort of interplanar cosmonaut).  deep alienation from nature
inspires us to imagine all manner of our origins as from gods
and supernatural entities very foreign to the beauty and majesty
of the One.

# He said that the false "self" is applied layer upon layer, like
# bad wallpaper, by parents, religions, schools, governments and 
# the general chaos called "culture", until the "I" is completely 
# buried and falls "asleep" from the suffocation. 

yes, 'indoctrination', 'learning', 'education', 'acculturation',
'socialization', 'brainwashing', etc.

# Mr. Sabourie said that the work of the Path is to peel away the 
# gross accretions, 

how?  removing exteriorizations, does this leave us vulnerable?
can other patterns be imprinted during this vulnerability?  this
may be a good reason to know we can trust the insight and
compassion of those with whom we engage this 'peeling away' process.

# refuse to passively take on new conditioning 

very easy to say, not so simple to undertake, I'm afraid!  we are
unused to discerning between that which we need and that by which
we are subtlely co-opted to cultured ends.  are there valuable
aspects of conditioning such that removing some portions would
reveal a 'wild' part of us that would not survive an encounter
with society (breaking laws, etc.)?

# and to "polish" the "I" until it becomes the perfect "mirror" 
# of  "Present Awareness" .

attention to this essential core is extremely important.
practicing the receptive skill until we can, with equal skill,
shift from expression in artistic splendor to wrap attention
of the Beloved, we release the world and are carried aloft.

# Mr. Sabourie said that the false "selves" of every person 
# are accidental accumulations of neurological conditioning, 
# kind of like a coral reef built up of nervous "ticks".  

lovely analogy.  I'd also suggest that they are like the shell
of a bud, the pupa of a butterfly, the mortar of a cast.  for
a while their hardness preserves our growing extension, even
while its extremity and inflexible deceptiveness proves,
inevitably, to be unworthy of indefinite retention.

# Every persons bag of hang-ups that he believes to be 
# "himself" is individual and unique, 

quite, often associated with the vector of personal experience.

# whereas the "true self", the "I" is none other than the 
# Absolute One, what is called "God".  There is only one 
# "Absolute One", therefore there is a single "I" that is 
# the "True Self" of every being.  

the buddha nature.  the All.  many names for this changing,
excellent truth.  no more an 'I' than I am.  illusory that
it is to be found 'within' rather than 'without'.

# So when Jesus said "Whatever you do to anyone you are
# doing it to Me", He was being absolutely literal!  

aside from the technicality that Jesus was a storybook figure,
there is greater meaning to be found in the more expansive
interpretation of the 'Me' references ascribed to him.  such
as, "No man may come to the Father [Source] but through Me
[the 'I' as Angha007 and Mr. Sabourie have it]."  so much
mystical literature to interpret, so little time.
# There is only one "I", and it manifests through the
# infinite variety of "individual" organisms.  

a lovely model.  only such, however.  quite Vedantic also,
possibly Neoplatonic.  there is also a mystery of the
perfectly-manifested God, totally present within a single
personage (Visnu, for example, and his avatarae of Rama and
Krishna).  Jesus the Christ/Messiah and Gautama the Buddha
are sometimes associated with this principle also.  they are 
simultaneously the Child and the One, not just 'a manifestation'.

# The work if the Path is to peel away the false "self", so 
# that the True "I" can burst forth into the world, 

how is this done?  examples?  better with guidance?  at certain
stages in life?

# like Jesus bursting forth from the tomb, like the Light Shining 
# in the Darkness for the salvation of the world.  

excellent mythology.  except that won't work for real folks.  it
must imply something or be worthless in the world of death and
cold cruel facts.  those of us who are not willing to believe in
such stories and patiently (foolishly?) wait until post-mortem
dreamlands descend upon us must find a more present-oriented,
naturally-mystical method than as described about Jesus the Christ.
the stories of him indicate a pattern we can follow to achieve the
same waking process.

# The work if the Path is the struggle to "Awaken" from the "sleep 
# of death".  

so let's talk about examples of practices which help to do this.
I feel that this is what is central to sufism.  are there disciplines
which are best done alone?  some which are best done with others?
some best done at certain times of the day, in certain locations?

# Anytime our awareness is not Present, in the Here-And-Now, then 
# we are lost in the mental imagery of the false "self", and are 
# technically "Asleep".  

so very often!  aim I do at the present, but turned toward the
fantastic am I like a stargazer looking directly at a faint star
and prevented from glimpsing it on account of my optic nerve.
holding fast to the central moment and yet thrust away as if I
try to mesh two magnets by their same poles.

# The role of the Teacher is to do whatever it takes to "Awaken" us, 

not waiting for a Teacher, I set out on my own.  what resources do
I have available to me?  what pitfalls can I watch out for as a
solitary aspirant?  how can I tell when I am more awake and when
I am more asleep?  are there signs?  is a Teacher necessary all
the time, or only at certain points along the path?  need it be
a formal relationship like a Sheikh or a Guru or a Sensei, or can
it be informal such as when I am instructed by the seagull whose
feces soil my robes on the way to see Very Important People?

# before we suffer the ultimate loss called the "Second Death", 

OOOOO!  scary!  tell us more about this!  it sounds like the Big
Black Box Which Must Be Avoided at All Costs!  'second' death?
like we die and then we die again?  strangely sounding.  death
itself seems a large enough mystery without duplicating it.
perhaps this is for those who have so overlain our ideas about
death with fanciful 'knowledge' that we need a secondary sheen
of unknowingness or danger in order to break us of our follies?

# even if it feels like cruelty to the student.  

excuses for abuse!  haven't we learned enough from Jim Jones,
Zen Master Rama, and the variety of "Crazy Wisdom" yahoos who
sometimes get away with literal murder 'for the benefit of
those involved'?  where shall we draw the lines?  I don't say
we should condemn anyone, but if it feels like cruelty then I
say 'are you sure that it isn't?'

# "Fresh water tastes bitter to a sick man".  "A freezing man 
# just wants to be left alone to sleep".

so let's give the sick man more fresh water and force it down
his throat?  it is one thing if that man wants fresh water and
trusts us that we are giving to him regardless of how it tastes,
it is another when we begin to tell these people what is 'real'
and force upon them 'what is good for them'.  unlike some I
would abide the wishes of these fellows to die their way if they
were insistent despite my patient explanations.  I might even
hold their hands while they ended it in illness and hypothermia.

# Mr. Sabourie gave detailed instructions on eating and breathing 
# practice.  He said to eat half as much but chew twice as long.  
# It is good to always feel a little hungry.  

eating and breathing are sufficiently common that attention to
them will associate attention to experience fairly regularly.
I suggest that this is the true benefit to such suggestions,
rather than any specific Solution to Good Living.  certain
disciplines will be more rational to some than others.  the
explanations will of course grow deep and complex (perhaps
without very realistic justification other than enhancing the
breadth of our consciousness by paying attention to what we
are doing), ultimately distracting from the real benefits.

# He described the breathing practice like this:

excellent exploration of the breath-cycles.

# 7)  It is best to practice at sunrise and sunset, when the "gap" 
# between the worlds opens and the "Freshening" breeze flows into 
# the world....

regardless of any fanciful metaphysics, I do find that sunrise
and sunset are very valuable and symbolically powerful times to
engage disciplines.  the traditional Muslim salat (prayer) takes 
place at these times, among others, for example.

# Mr. Sabourie.... said it was like when a piece of paper (the false 
# self) cover the luminous entity (the true self). When one piece of 
# paper covers the luminous self, the light still shines through, but 
# eventually the light will be blocked out completely. The prophets 
# came to help us see our true selves, and when people don't 
# understand the prophets, it's because the false self if blocking 
# it out.

even when we are provided with clear descriptions like this!
# ...Knowledge, thoughts, and words are useless and unreal, unless 
# we take actions based on them, a map to a treasure is not the 
# treasure itself.  

beautiful.  let us ask what is the treasure, where are these maps
pointing, and how is it best that we move toward that treasure?

# PRESENT in the action....  

this is my most favorite portion of my disciplines.  when I am
doing something I continue to put attention into doing just that,
throwing myself into it with all my heart.  here I sit revealing
to you my true self punching keys and looking at a screen while
sitting and pinching my shoulders (lowing them now), delayed in
eating, eyes tired from hay fever, subtle motivations for
preparations I am to make of a journey to take tomorrow as yet
this night stir behind the voice from my heart speaking to you.

# One should breathe abdominaly using the diaphragm at first and 
# only at the very end use the chest.  

I find that the breath is the boundary region between waking and
sleeping mind and therefore acts as a kind of conduit for the
communications to our deepest self.  attention to and/or wrangling
with processes usually delegated to the deep mind brings it to
attention, a wake up call.  the diaphragm operates 'autonomically'
and our flutzing with this gets us deep into the works.

# Also one MUST be present when breathing.

imperatives sometimes trip us up.  occasionally this will land us
in the very heart of waking, at other times it becomes a bind out
of which only guides can release us.  our weakness determines our
need for a spiritual guide.  assessing ourselves the trick that
we cannot perform without trying, often badly.

peace be with you,
-- (emailed replies may be posted); cc me replies;;

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