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Sufism: Work on Ourselves

From: (Haramullah)
Subject: Sufism: Work on Ourselves
Date: 49940917

Quoting: |Walter Eisenbeis 

La ilaha illa 'Llah.  Muhammad rasulu 'Llah.

|However, we all know that in Sufism it is necessary to learn about oneself.  

Becoming more aware of oneself can enable us to more firmly learn about
and connect with Allah.

|I suggest that we think of something we want to change about ourselves: 

This can be a very valuable discipline (learning).  Becoming aware of who
we are and who we would like to be is quite important.  Working toward
goals (even small ones) can be important to inspire our self-esteem, our
dedication and orientation.

|simple things like doing the dishes every day, 

Household chores and daily work (even in the office) of upkeep and
maintenance can become a zhikr.  We learn to be patient with ourselves 
and our limitations while remembering the peace and love of the Most

|not getting angry, 

Sometimes our emotions can be very valuable indicators of items which
we need to address in our lives yet which we have neglected.  I will
at times become impatient with people who are emotion-based or who
communicate in predominately emotional ways because I have neglected
the aspect of me which is heart-based, being overly-instructed to my 

I have a tendency to get angry, frustrated, impatient around those who 
are not like me, who live in ways about which I have felt hurt or 
denied.  I have also seen this with others when I have done things
which they denied in their lives (physical affection in their presence, 
for example).  

When I feel this anger then I try to look at the apparent 'source'
(usually a person or an activity that I'm engaging).  I ask myself what
about this 'source' am I truly upset about.  That is, I stop my anger
in its tracks and analyze it, reflecting upon what *I* feel hurt about,
what *I* feel denied about that I am offering to them this impatience,
this frustration.

And yet I have also been trained very strongly (by parents and by school
and other organizations for which this was a problem) to KEEP DOWN my
anger, to swallow it, not to express it, even when it would be very
important to do so.  In this way it is unhealthy for me to simply STOP
being angry.  When I slow down and analyze it this helps me in one way.
When I feel my anger deeply and refrain from acting on it to hurt another
then it helps me in another way (in that I experience my emotions more
intensely and fully without it perpetuating violence).

I've found that anger can be a very important inspiration to keep the
strength of boundaries which were important for me (as when I felt
abused or taken advantage).  I found that I could use my anger to give
me courage, to provide incentive in resolving difficulties I was having
with people, etc.  Some people call this 'channelling the anger into
different places', but I think of it as feeling it deeply and letting
it instruct me about myself.

|not saying negative things about someone, 

I have seen the corrosive aspects of rumor and hypercriticism in my life
and come to know that there are ways which things can be said which are
very harmful to others (often indirectly or perhaps too directly).

However, there appears to me a kind of balance which I need in order not
to be harmed by the polar opposites of these activities.  I've also seen
that NONcommunication can be just as painful, and that a LACK of
critical quality can lead to very difficult places (perhaps some would
call it 'living in a fantasy world' :>).  

My favorite way to communicate about another is to say what *I* feel and
think about them, not saying that I know my feelings to be the truth
or my thoughts to be absolutely accurate.  Thus when I say "I feel that
Marc Wachowitz is sometimes overprotective," I am not only gauging the 
response which Marc is likely to have (in this case I'm sure he wouldn't 
mind me using him as an example), but also I am tempering my speech in
such a way that it can be clear that my feelings may be about *me* as 
much as about him.  I may have felt overprotected in my life, for example,
and Marc may well have reminded me of my upbringing.

In speaking this way I am indeed saying 'negative things' about Marc,
and it is important to note that for me it is not so important the quality 
of the thing said ('negative') but the MANNER in which I say it (with
respect and without condemnation, leaving room for my possible error).

I consider this to be a means of 'walking the Middle Path', being both 
true to my feelings about another (not censoring these) and yet allowing
others the same respect that I would wish for myself.

|stopping smoking, not complaining, writing a letter, visiting someone
|or getting more exercise. 	

Small goals (as compared to the big ones like obtaining to the depths 
of gnosis :>) like these are very very important at some points in our 
lives.  When we are groping for the Hand of God to lead us and She 
shows us little glimmers, the small steps along the path which make 
the journey complete, the more we find ourselves able to listen (obey) 
Hir, the more we shall find ourselves swept up in Hir love and will.  

One day, after diligently attending to these steps, we may find that 
we are swimming along the straight and righteous path without ever 
knowing how we got there!

|We all have at least one thing we feel we should, could or would like 
|to change that would be beneficial.  

I suggest that while this can be true for many people, as I have said 
above, (especially as a fundamental or basic teaching), it also carries
with it a trap - the trap of never being able to accept what is, of
being who we are, of knowing our faults and our limitations and our
foibles and coming to love ourselves.  It is one thing to work on the
aspects we see keep us to the Righteous Path.  It is quite another
never to see our own perfections and genius.

So many of us have been reigned in by authorities with criticism and
negativity that we can be over-sensitive about it even while we may
manifest it towards others without realizing it, passing it on like
so many diseases.  I feel that one of the most important lessons for
me to learn is how to accept people for who they are, and this begins
(as do so many other of my instructions) with *me*.  How well can I
accept who I am and what I am in comparison to what I'd like to be?

I am not talking here about giving up goals or aspirations (though this
may at times also be a very important practice), but about being able
to see myself in my need and imperfection and coming to love myself, 
even as Al-Wadud (the Loving One) loves me.

|My suggestion is that we try doing it for at least one week.  It should be
|very interesting to discuss the results.   	After a week write in with
|what you wanted to change and the success.

I would also like to hear these results, and I would like to hear also about
the *failures*, for in this way we retain our humility in the sight of Allah
and acknowledge that it is as important to fail as it is to succeed.

Lakum dinukum wa-liya dini, my kin.


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