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Sufism for Western Seekers

By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff

2221 Skyhigh Drive Bartonsville, PA 18321 September 2011

A Sam Story*
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Once there as a spirit!al traveler ho like other men orke", ha" a #amily, an" helpe" care #or his home an" comm!nity$ A""itionally, this man as blesse" ith the capacity to e%plain some o# the eternal tr!ths in bea!ti#!l, ritten lang!age$ &o ever, something as lacking in his riting an" it ha" limite" !se$ As the years ore on an" this man str!ggle" ith a"versity an" sickness, something happene"$ 'ra"!ally, a so#tness an" ten"erness appeare" in his ritings$ (his as the missing ingre"ient, an" as it as a""e", tho!san"s ere able to "erive bene#it$ ) )

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) As per his ishes, to shiel" the teacher*s i"entity, Sam is a pse!"onym !se" thro!gho!t this man!script$

Contents
Page Acknowledgements Introduction Chapter IIIIIII)))I)IIMy eligious !raining "etting Started #ur $irst Con%ersation- &ife is All a'out Me( #ur Con%ersation Continues- *unger Pains that Can+t ,e Cured With $ood Sufism and the Mystical School ,egin to -ase the *unger Sufis are -%eryday People &i%ing &ife as a Prayer .isco%ering and Choosing #ur *igher Sel%es in an -/pectation 0 ewards 1ind of World )III- Are 2ou eally Saying We Can Co-Create #ur eality3 I444I4IIAncient !eachings 5eed a 67st Century 8pdate Su'mission of Will9 $reedom of Choice and eal &ife Spiritual -/perience #rdinary People Shining -/traordinary &ight Into the World Proof9 Miracles9 ,elief and Mo%ing #n $rom $irst School

4III- -%eryday Spirituality 4I)- !ra%eler+s Creed Story: The Star Child Appendi/ A: Article- ;!he Mystical School9< 'y .r= Stewart ,itkoff Appendi/ ,: Inter%iew- Sadi> M= Alam 0 .r= Stewart ,itkoff !opic: #n Mysticism 0 !he Mystery School $ootnotes

Acknowledgements
+rom a spirit!al perspective, one o# the central aspects to li#e concerns learning #rom "aily e%perience an" reali,ing -!st abo!t any set o# circ!mstances can teach yo! something$ Over the last 2 years, orking on this man!script has ta!ght me abo!t mysel#, other people, an" the p!blishing process$ .y hope is that this combination o# #actors res!lte" in a richer, more in#ormative rea" #or the spirit!al traveler ho picks !p this book$ .y thanks to /ennine 0abrera an" Dr$ An"re .e,!recky #or help "eveloping this man!script an" getting the material rea"y #or the p!blisher$ A""itionally, thanks to Sam, 1ach, 2""ie, Pa!l, Ben, Steve an" other spirit!al travelers ho ere there in the beginning$ 3orking on this material, again has remin"e" me o# the on"er#!l heritage o# S!#i learning an" great teachers ho came be#ore an" help provi"e "irection #ar into the #!t!re$ (hese are the hi""en #rien"s o# h!manity, helping !s "aily to reach higher, +inally, thanks to my #amily4#rien"s5 6ea, .elo"y, &olly, 'reg, Abby, 2mily, 0aity, 7elly, 6o!, 8ose, .ollie, Br!ce, /e##, Bren"a, .ike an" .arty9 all ho have sho n me that love tr!ly :r!les the planets$* Also, all li#e*s going an" "oing means very little !nless there are people yo! love an" care abo!t to share -oy, learning an" e%perience$

Introduction
.any people, at some point in their lives, think, <= sho!l" rite a book abo!t my #avorite s!b-ect9 = have so m!ch to say$> O#ten, =*ve come across others ho even have ha" a #irst shot at their man!script$ ?s!ally, it*s b!rie" in their closets, o# co!rse, #ar #rom seeing the light o# "ay9 b!t nevertheless, most o# !s have <the ne%t bestseller> in o!r hearts$ .y e%perience has been some hat "i##erent$ =*ve been riting #or a long time, an" = act!ally sel#@p!blishe" several books$ =*ve kept at it #or most o# my a"!lt li#e$ A #e years back, = revisite" one o# these sel#@p!blishe" books, "i" some e"iting, a""e" a marketing plan an" some p!blicity, an" embarke" on a -o!rney that c!lminate" in the p!blication o# A 0omm!ter*s '!i"e to 2nlightenment) in .arch 2008$ <A "ream come tr!e,> yo! may think to yo!rsel#$ B!t li#e is #!nny that ay, isn*t itA Bo! really "o have to be care#!l hat yo! ish #or$ (he e%perience o# being p!blishe" as at once e%citing an" "isappointing$ = ha" hope" to reach many, yet sales ere not that strong$ Altho!gh "isappointe", = as not "isco!rage"$ .y "esire to reach my #ello spirit!al travelers is still as vibrant as ever$ +or a #ollo @!p, = reali,e" that = ha" to take a "i##erent approach$ (his present riting, as the S!#is o!l" say, came abo!t thro!gh :a con#l!ence o# essences$* 3hile o##ering a #irst han" acco!nt o# learning in t o mo"ern S!#i schools, it also presents ho this learning is !se#!l in "aily li#e$ Over a perio" o# months, = searche" #or a topic that = #elt strongly abo!t an" co!l" "ra interest #rom to"ay*s estern spirit!al traveler$ = tho!ght a book on mysticism, as ta!ght in a estern S!#i school, might be a goo" place to begin$ Altho!gh immerse" in this topic, = have never consi"ere" mysel# an e%pert or tho!ght abo!t riting speci#ically on this s!b-ect$ = "eci"e" to embark !pon this pro-ect in the hope that = might a"" a ne voice to the mi%$ Someho all o# this came together, an" hat = present to yo! here are a series o# re#lections an" "isc!ssions abo!t some o# the basic C!estions #acing all spirit!al travelers D

along the Path$ 3hether e reali,e it or not, all o# o!r lives are spent on a spirit!al -o!rney9 in"ee", every one o# !s is a spirit!al traveler$ 3hen #ace" ith crises o# spirit in o!r lives, e o#ten erroneo!sly think that e m!st retreat or isolate o!rselves #rom the <"ay@to@"ay> in or"er to #ollo o!r spirit!al nat!re$ =n #act, the opposite is o#ten tr!e, there is m!ch learning an" enlightenment to be #o!n" in hat o!l" other ise be consi"ere" m!n"ane or or"inary$ 2nlightenment can be achieve" in "aily li#e, "oing -!st abo!t anything9 an" both sets o# conscio!sness, the every"ay an" the spirit!al, operate sim!ltaneo!sly$ 6ike an onion, o!r levels o# conscio!sness an" a areness are m!ltiple9 in time, the spirit!al traveler learns to operate m!ltiple levels, to help sel# an" others reach to ar" complete, balance" living$ (ra"itionally, this is the ancient, nat!ral ay o# spirit!al "evelopment$ (he co!rse o# st!"y is in"ivi"!al, !niC!e to the speci#ic person, an" the o!tcome o# this teaching is a spirit!al traveler ho is able to !se his higher capacity in every"ay li#e to help sel# an" others$ =t is my hope that in rea"ing an" learning abo!t these spirit!al e%periences, yo! ill be inspire" to strive #or yo!r o n higher p!rpose every"ay along the Path$ = searche" #or 'o" an" #o!n" only mysel#$ = searche" #or mysel# an" #o!n" only 'o"$ S!#i Proverb)

What is Sufism3
!ra%eler5 When friends ask me what I study, and I try to explain, I find it hard to put into words, what is Sufism? Help me understand so I can gi e a clearer explanation. !ne of the great teachers offered, "long #efore there was a name $Sufism% there was a reality. &ow there is a name without a reality.' What is meant #y this is that there has always #een a way to connect with and experience ultimate (ruth) this spiritual path of learning existed long #efore tra elers, in the late *+,,'s, ga e this way of learning its present nameSufism. .t the time, local ascetics wore a distincti e woolen $soof% ro#e E

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and #ecame known for this. &ow this name, or spiritual form, for many followers exists without a corresponding inner reality. !ften today, what you see in the world represented as Sufism is an empty shell of its former self. (his ancient /ath of spiritual de elopment is #ased upon connection with and experience of the Di ine. (his connection occurs in daily life doing a ariety of seemingly ordinary acti ities. It in ol es study with a teacher and the awakening, through direct contact with (ruth, of latent spiritual capacity) this is done so the tra eler can help others. (his (ruth or uni ersal essence, the spiritual tra eler seeks and experiences, is the underlying energy or fa#ric of created forms. (his /ath existed long #efore there were religions) this way of learning is at the heart of the great religions) it is the underlying spiritual energy that gi es e erything in the uni erse its form and su#stance. Inside each of us is an aspect of this wondrous element. (hrough preparation, practice de eloping our inner spiritual awareness, and 0race we unite with and ser e 1ltimate 2eality e ery day. 3y teacher called this /ath - the Superhighway to 0od. 4or those who wish to connect with (ruth and use their inner spiritual capacity to help others) this form of learning is a aila#le in e ery town and city. Sufism is not something talked a#out or descri#ed in written words) it is a uni ersal essence that is experienced and known through inner spiritual contact. 3uch like lo e) no matter how many words you use- the description is not the same as the actual experience. .nd like lo e which e##s and flows, Sufism changes to fit the learner, time and place. !ra%eler5 (his helps a little. Sufism is difficult to put into words #ecause it is a spiritual experience and changes with each person. 5et, I ha e #een in lo e and know there are different forms of lo e with many peaks and alleys that are impossi#le to descri#e) and no matter how pretty a poem or lo e song, it is not the experience itself. 2emem#er, e eryone is a spiritual tra eler and in their long 6ourney through this uni erse, experiences many wondrous things. 7ountless experiences go #eyond words and cannot #e written down- changing with each moment and person. (his dimension is one of the elements that make life so complex and #eautiful. If this is too difficult for those who ask a#out us to grasp, ask them to define lo e or e en life itself. .s they ponder all the possi#ilities then they will #egin to understand.

Master5

I-

My eligious ,ackground

= as raise" /e ish in Ge Bork 0ity9 on my #ather*s si"e o# the #amily e ere "escen"ants o# 8abbis an" accor"ing to o!r gran"parents, my great gran"#ather as a reno ne" philanthropist, teacher an" 8abbi in the ol" co!ntry be#ore their lan"s ere sei,e" by the 0,ar$ (o me, my early religio!s training as very con#!sing9 very little o# it ma"e any sense an" m!ch o# it as in &ebre , a lang!age = co!l"n*t !n"erstan"$ (here ere ancient c!stoms = co!l"n*t connect ith9 an" the ol" stories o# the prophets hel" no real meaning #or me$ 0onversely, both o# my gran"#athers #o!n" great -oy an" com#ort being part o# their congregations9 an" = love" an" respecte" them very m!ch$ Also, both my parents ha" their o n ay o# a"apting$ +or the most part, my #ather as too b!sy trying to make a living to care m!ch abo!t all o# this9 altho!gh he trie" to #ollo the ol" tra"itions as best he co!l"$ 3hile my mother !se" to la!gh at some o# the :ol" black cost!mes or tra"itional "ress* that conservative /e ish people ore, partic!larly, in the s!mmer H0 "egree heat9 she !se" to say, these clothes ere not practical an" they ere not trying very har" to #it into American li#e$ +!rther, she love" to atch the 2vangelist, Billy 'raham on television, an" ha" her o n private ay o# talking ith 'o"$ .ean hile on the streets o# .anhattan, = as constantly getting into #ights, beca!se = as /e ish$ Sometimes, the other 0hristian ki"s o!l" hi"e behin" parke" cars on the street, -!st o!tsi"e the temple e%it, an" po!n" !s ith rocks as e came o!t #rom &ebre school$ 3henever possible, = o!l" #in" one o# them an" as pay back@ kick their b!tt$ At the time, getting even ma"e more sense to me, than, the things = as learning insi"e the temple alls$

(o me, it as all abo!t s!rvival an" ignorance$ &ere, there ere a b!nch o# ki"s aiting to po!n" on me #or my belie#s, hich at the time, = "i" not believe$ 'o #ig!re$ So in or"er to s!rvive = ha" to take the necessary action$ Go a"ays, sort o# hat is still going on in the .i""le 2ast9 only ith a more "ea"ly o!tcomeA 8eligion is being !se" as a smoke screen #or a po er play9 one gro!p o# people being ta!ght they are right an" the other is rong, so, they can #eel goo" abo!t themselves an" take something #rom the other$ Perhaps, it as no "i##erent back then, as ell, in the ol" neighborhoo"$ Some ki"s getting their e%citement, !sing religion, to po!n" on someone else$ = have to say, that m!ch o# my li#e "i" not really make m!ch sense to me, !ntil my mi" an" early 20*s$ = as sort o# "ri#ting #rom one thing to another9 trying to "o the right thing, b!t not having anything, in ar"ly, to hol" onto an" provi"e "irection$ Bet, all abo!t me :the times ere a changing* an" ere e%citing9 the E0*s an" early F0*s@ all kin"s o# things ere going on an" = e%perimente" like others, b!t co!l" not connect, in ar"ly, ith anything, on a lasting basis$ +rom a spirit!al perspective, the early part o# my li#e as a preparation #or my moment o# a akening, altho!gh = "i"n*t reali,e it at the time$ 0ertainly, there ere people an" e%periences = #elt "eeply abo!t$ =n the C!iet moments, hen my min" as not #ille" ith people hom = love" or my ork an" school, this lack o# inner peace an" "irection p!she" me on ar"$ =n ar"ly, = as contin!ally searching #or an ans er to the C!estion, hy are e hereA 3hy is this orl" so transitoryA 3hat is li#e, hich is so #!ll o# -oy an" pain, really abo!tA +or many people, it is the religion o# their birth that ans ers this kin" o# C!estion9 their religion provi"es an inner #o!n"ation an" basis #rom hich to b!il" their lives$ +or me, = ha" to sip o# another c!p9 not being in ar"ly satis#ie" ith any religion or philosophy, !ntil = #o!n" an" e%perience" the 6ight$ =n ar"ly, = as not at ease an" the last place = looke" #or personal com#ort as religion9 no one ha" ever tol" me there as a "i##erence bet een an o!ter teaching, or religio!s

#orm, an" the inner e%perience, or essence, o# religio!s teaching$ =n ar"ly, at their higher levels, all the great religions are One9 an" this primor"ial energy hich gives them s!bstance an" li#e is holistic, vibrant, 6oving an" !n"er the right circ!mstances, co!l" be e%perience", in"ivi"!ally an" collectively$ An" all my in ar" searching9 being lost, h!rt, lonely an" restless as a preparation #or that moment o# a akening$ (he c!p ha" been empty, so the 6ight co!l" #ill it an" alter the "irection o# my li#e$ An" in or"er #or any li#e to have real meaning yo! m!st #eel passionately abo!t something, like the songbir" yo! have to have a song to sing, an" = as looking #or mine$ (he :great emptiness or h!nger* as p!shing me on ar"$ 3ithin each person there is an :empty space* that is aiting to be #ille" by the :6ight o# 'o"9* this emptiness mani#ests as an !nease, a "iscom#orting #ear an" ache9 it is this !nease, a #riction o# sorts that "rives people on ar", seeking to #ill this voi" ith all kin"s o# things$ (he orl" is #ille" ith many stim!li an" the traveler, !nless a akene", ill try to C!iet this primor"ial !nease an" res!lting #ear an" an%iety by mentally attaching their conscio!sness an" bo"y to -!st abo!t anything$ Spirit!al a akening is like the s!nrise o# a ne "ay, #illing the traveler ith hope an" -oy@ transcen"ing time an" space in one glorio!s moment o# !n"erstan"ing$ =t is an e%plosion o# energy that li#ts the traveler onto a ne path9 setting the heart aglo in a mo"ern S!#i school$ ith love, higher kno le"ge an" "eep peace$ (his happene" #or me thro!gh my participation

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II-

"etting Started
!he Sufi ?uest

.an, e say e kno , originates #rom #ar a ay9 so #ar, in"ee", that in speaking o# his origin, s!ch phrases as :beyon" the stars* are #reC!ently employe"$ .an is estrange" #rom his origins$ Some o# his #eelings Ib!t not all o# themJ are slight in"icators o# this $ $ $ .an has the opport!nity o# ret!rning to his origin$ &e has #orgotten this$ &e is, in #act, :asleep* to this reality$ S!#ism is "esigne" as the means to help a aken man to this reali,ation, not -!st the opinion, o# the above statements$ (hose ho a aken are able to ret!rn, to start :the -o!rney* hile living the present li#e in all its #!llness$ (ra"itions abo!t monasticism an" isolation are re#lections o# short@term processes o# training or "evelopment, monstro!sly mis!n"erstoo" an" grotesC!ely elaborate" to provi"e re#!ges #or those ho ant to stay asleep$ .evlevi) (his C!ote by .evlevi "escribes hat the spirit!al traveler sets o!t to accomplish5 A aken a part o# sel# that has long been asleep9 in or"er to enrich the traveler*s li#e$ (his process or spirit!al path is a very ancient one, pre"ating #ormal religio!s teaching an", hel" among its #ollo ers to be the !n"erlying !nity, or common mystical e%perience inherent in all religio!s #orms$ = hope to help yo! become more a akene" by sharing the #ollo ing5 1pdated (eaching$ S!#ism is a living vibrant element an" is constantly evolving an" being !p"ate"$ =ts !niversal energy can li#t yo! !p an" alter yo!r li#e$ =ts learning stretches across a li#etime an" changes people, one person at a time$ (his timeless teaching changes to #it the traveler an" the times$ &erein, is a presentation o# this teaching that as o##ere" to a gro!p o# estern spirit!al travelers9 no one ha" to p!t on an e%otic garb, #ollo a "i##erent religion or leave their ork an" #amily to "rink o# this on"ro!s element$ =t as o##ere" ithin the conte%t o# every"ay li#e9 in a large city, at ork@ in a psychiatric hospital, an" "!ring l!nchtime$ Appealing to travelers #rom all religio!s backgro!n"s@ it is a :generic !niversal mysticism,* that accor"ing to tra"ition, is at the heart o# all religio!s teachings$ 3hat as o##ere" as an e%perience o# a timeless, ancient 11

teaching that as !p"ate" into mo"ern lang!age !sing C!estion an" ans er$ Bet beneath this verbal e%change as a palpable spirit!al e%perience o# energy, an essence that transcen"e" the moment an" connecte" !s to !niversal conscio!sness$ (o the S!#i, this caress is calle" :the Belove"*s 7iss,* an" proves to the traveler there is a reality beyon" o!r "aily lives that has al ays love" !s$ Insider 8iew$ (ypically, most books on S!#ism are ritten by aca"emics, hose e%perience is a scholarly one as oppose" to an act!al spirit!al traveler ho has been initiate", embrace" an" has e%perience" the inner reality$ Accor"ingly, this riting o##ers a #irst han" retrospective vie o# hat takes place bet een the master, ho #or p!rposes o# con#i"entiality is calle" Sam, an" an in"ivi"!al traveler, as oppose" to hat "i##erent e%perts an" a!thorities have st!"ie" an" <translate"$> (hen, the story #ollo s the traveler to the ne%t school, an" o##ers a practical "isc!ssion o# the levels o# learning enco!ntere", across the years, in "aily li#e$ &utrient to 9ife$ Accor"ing to one o# the great teachers, S!#ism is a n!trient that enables the traveler to become spirit!ally "evelope"9 it is the missing ingre"ient an" #ills the :great h!nger,* hich propels !s all #or ar" in search o# higher meaning an" p!rpose$ (hro!gho!t this ork, there are n!mero!s e%amples o# ho this perspective or n!trient can be help#!l$ 9e els of .wareness$ Accor"ing to the S!#i, enlightenment can be achieve" in or"inary li#e, "oing -!st abo!t anything9 an" both sets o# conscio!sness@ every"ay an" spirit!al@ a#ter a perio" o# preparation, operate sim!ltaneo!sly$ (his narrative !tili,es a conversational "evice o# one aspect o# conscio!sness, every"ay a areness, talking to the higher aspect, spirit!al conscio!sness$ Sufism : (he /erennial /hilosophy$ Al"o!s &!%ley) an" others have ritten on the Perennial Philosophy hich s!ggests there is an !n"erlying !nity, or internal connecte"ness, to all the great religions$ (he orl"*s great religions are !nite" thro!gh this inner, primor"ial spirit!al energy9 o#ten, it is the o!t ar" e%pression hich changes an" is "i##erent accor"ing to time, place an" c!lt!re$

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+!rther, it is thro!gh this internal !ni#ying energy that the spirit!al traveler connects an" !nites ith ?ltimate (r!th$ Over the cent!ries, some have terme" this ay o# learning an" e%periencing ?ltimate (r!th mysticism$ =slam thro!gh its mystical branch, S!#ism, is the orl"*s most recent ma-or pro-ection o# this ancient ay o# spirit!al learning$ Bet, all religions have available at their very center the e%perience o# ?ltimate (r!th9 this inner spirit!al ay o# learning is the path o# the spirit!al traveler, an" is available to everyone all o# the time$ +!rther, this path e%iste" long be#ore =slam or S!#ism an" may be e%perience" in or"inary li#e, in"epen"ent o# S!#ism$ +or the spirit!al traveler, S!#ism an" this ancient ay o# perceiving !ltimate reality are one an" the same$ 3hile many o# the C!otes an" re#erences are S!#i ones@ similar vie s, C!otes, an" inner spirit!al e%periences are available thro!gh all spirit!al an" religio!s tra"itions$ One o# the #irst lessons ta!ght in the mystical school is ho to monitor "aily tho!ghts an" #eelings$ =sn*t it ama,ing ho many tho!ghts an" #eelings pass thro!gh o!r bo"ies an" min"s on a "aily basisA Di" yo! ever stop to consi"er thisA 'ra"!ally, thro!gh monitoring personal tho!ghts an" #eelings an" recogni,ing patterns, along ith g!i"ance #rom the teacher on ho to e%amine the !n"erlying ass!mptions behin" these patterns, the spirit!al traveler learns to master #l!ct!ations o# conscio!sness, being able to si#t thro!gh an" C!iet them9 in or"er to connect ith hat lies beyon" "aily a areness$ 3hile some #eelings an" tho!ghts are en-oyable an" easier to p!sh asi"e than bothersome ones, the spirit!al traveler, thro!gh practice, at speci#ic times, m!st be able to still all tho!ghts an" #eelings$ (he ass!mption being that once this is "one, the a areness "eep ithin, beyon" "aily cares, can be a akene"$ (his is the mystical process, p!shing asi"e "aily tho!ghts an" #eelings, in or"er to connect ith o!r o n inner higher conscio!sness$ 6ike a television remote, e learn to ork the channels in o!r min", so e can easily go to the "esignate" setting that plays <higher conscio!sness$> (here is a .i""le

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2astern -oke #ig!re, .!lla Gasr!"in, ho ill!strates ho he has mastere" an" in part ma"e his tho!ghts ork #or him$ .!lla Gasr!"in as visiting his psychiatrist$ Among the many C!estions the "octor aske" as5 <Are yo! bothere" by improper tho!ghts> <Got at all,> sai" Gasr!"in$ <(he tr!th is = rather en-oy them$>) =n the ne%t section, like Gasr!"in, e begin to play the "i##erent stations in o!r min" an" make them ork #or !s$ +or most travelers, these are the voices o# competing streams that a!tomatically come on to help !s5 hen e have a presenting problem an important C!estion to ans er or, a matter o# conscience to consi"er$

=n o!r "ialog!e, the higher conscio!sness or part that kno s the ans ers to the C!estions e ask o!rselves speaks !sing italics$ =n part, this is the a areness that the spirit!al traveler seeks to a aken an" #!rther "evelop$ (he every"ay min", hich is nee"e" to #!nction in the orl", o##ers the C!estions, an" <speaks> in reg!lar print$ (his is the part that m!st be C!iete" an" stille" so the higher conscio!sness can come #or ar" an" ans er$ By asking C!estions an" helping !s thro!gh li#e, the every"ay min" "oes its -ob, so, the higher conscio!sness, !n"er the right circ!mstances, can operate an" lea" !s higher$ ) )

1;

III-

#ur $irst ;Con%ersation< @ &ife is all A'out Me(

So hat yo!*re saying is that #or the most part, this li#e is abo!t me$ 3hile hat = "o is connecte" an" may be important to others, in the #inal analysis, it is all abo!t me9 no , "o = have this rightA /retty much. So many religio!s philosophies talk abo!t giving to others, helping yo!r #ello man, an" e are all one, connecte" spirit!ally, in the eyes o# 'o"$ So i# e take care o# o!rselves, aren*t e taking care o# everyoneA =*m having tro!ble reconciling the t o concepts beca!se, #rom my backgro!n" in psychology, = kno that researchers have #o!n" that even in giving, h!mans are helping themselves$ =n e##ect, there is no s!ch thing as tr!e altr!ism$ (hen, hy is there so m!ch emphasis, #rom a religio!s an" spirit!al perspective, on helping an" "oing right #or othersA Because it is part of our #asic human, social o#ligation, li ing in a larger community, to help our neigh#or) it is a re;uirement of #eing a human #eing and part of the 6o# of all religion is to set-up foundational social and moral alues. .lso, spiritually, #y helping others, for the most part, we are helping our self reach our personal highest potential) a selfish-altruistic form of expression. Sel#ish@altr!ism@ come againA 3hen = help another, = help mysel#9 ho "oes that orkA Because when your neigh#or is hungry or suffering, you are hungry and suffering. !n a spiritual le el, we are all one. .nd since we are all one, life is a#out me and <us= at the same time$ =*ve hear" that one be#ore, b!t it is pretty "i##ic!lt to make that ork on a practical, every "ay, personal level$ 6et alone !n"erstan" it totally an" #eel hat yo! are talking abo!t$

1D

4rom a social perspecti e, here's an example. If your neigh#or is hungry and is suffering, their pain and desperation may cause them to steal, hurt another or commit a crime. In turn, this raises local insurance rates, people #ecome generally fearful and you may e en ha e an item taken from your own home. .lso, in some parts of the world, the hungry and desperate, in exchange for food and self-esteem are #eing taught their enemy is anyone who doesn't #elie e, in a religious sense, as they do. In exchange for needed food, they are #eing used and manipulated into #ecoming killing machines) #eing used to further selfish plans of indi idual power #rokers. It's interesting to note that suicide #om#ers rarely come from wealthy or politically influential families #ut from poor ones. .dditionally, research of olunteers indicates that for the most part, olunteers who help as little as > hours a week are #oth physically and mentally happier than their counterparts who do not olunteer. Scientists are starting to suspect that somehow helping others sets off #iochemical properties in the #rain and #ody that contri#ute to our o erall health and well #eing. O7$ =*m starting to get it $ $ $ So to help another might also help my overall health an" the general ell being o# the comm!nity aro!n" me$ Go , to go back to the original "isc!ssion, yo! mean that most o# the spirit!al learning an" personal e%pression, in this li#e, are basically #or mysel#9 not others $ $ $ not even my #amily$ /retty much$ (hat*s to!gh to rap my hea" aro!n"$ 6i#e is all abo!t me, b!t isn*t my #amily a part o# meA If it will help, let's go #ack to the #eginning of your life. &ow, why did you come here? As = !n"erstan", = came to this li#e to e%perience, create, ork, learn an" serve$

1E

5es. (hat is correct. We all come here to express who we are, and the highest expression of anyone's <self,= spiritually, is to help others. We are e;uipped with certain skills and a#ilities that assist in the de elopment of our highest expression. .long our spiritual path, we face specific experiences, which challenge us and ser e to further our de elopment. In gi ing of oursel es and helping our neigh#ors, we mo e forward to a higher reali?ation of self. Beyon" or"s an" "esires (here is an !n"erlying 8eality 3hich !ni#ies all things$ (his 8eality An" the metho" to perceive it =s the birthright o# h!manity$ =n their -o!rney thro!gh this orl" .ost people become "istracte" An" #i%ate on all manner o# things$ =n a sense, these things (hen become their reality An" they have no nee" o# anything higher$

So, my e%periences ith the spirit!al schools an" the "i##erent ays o# learning happene" to help me !nlock hat as alrea"y insi"e, so, = co!l" event!ally help othersA 4or the most part, that is correct$ = still "on*t get it, i# it*s mostly abo!t me, ho are e all connecte"A =t seems like a total contra"iction$ When the mind ;uestions, the heart or soul answers. !n one le el, we ha e discussed this with the example of the hungry neigh#or who is turned into a criminal or terrorist. 5et, you ha e to percei e the connection with your own inner spiritual capacity. (he real or lasting answer is not thought out@ it is percei ed or known #y another part of self.

1F

Another part o# mysel#A &o many <selves> "o = have any ayA (hroughout our li es we experience many sel es and that is the point of the different social roles we play. Some examples include, father, lo er, hospital worker, writer, teacher, little league coach and mem#er of a #owling team. Howe er, for our present con ersation and this #ook there are #asically two, the part that ;uestions, and the part that knows the answers. =t al ays comes "o n to that spirit!al kno ing "oesn*t itA 5es. It does. But remem#er spiritual knowing is natural and really not that difficult or complicated. Similar to how you know you are in lo e. /eople will ask, <How did you know?= Well, one day, after spending hours with your #elo ed, you 6ust knew. 2emem#er, you are a multi-le el #eing with many le els of understanding and knowing, that need to #e expressed in daily life. =t*s -!st not easy to operate on a "ay@to@"ay basis that ay$ 3e live on this earth ith other <reg!lar> people an" someho have to "eal ith <reg!lar> concerns$ (hese <reg!lar> concerns are annoying, take time, energy an" o#ten it*s har" to see the connection bet een the every"ay an" the more "ramatic spirit!al st!##$ Who said this was going to #e easy? .ll the <regular= stuff has its spiritual purpose, too. What good is spiritual learning if it isn't put into practice in daily life? (hat's why we undergo all that preparation and learning. (o help self and others reali?e the connection #etween the e eryday and spiritual. When the young mother suckles her #a#e in the middle of the night, how is this not an act of spiritual lo e? !r when the parent, at the crack of dawn commutes long distances to work to pro ide for their family? .lways, it is a matter of intention, a gentle lo e song we sing to help others. Bes$ Bes$ = kno it*s my -ob to help others thro!gh this riting, an" that*s part o# the reason = came to this li#e, b!t "o yo! think anyone ill believe any o# thisA

18

Does it really matter? (his is a#out you remem#er, what you ha e to experience and express. Because in your highest expression, as we all are connected, e eryone #enefits. B!t = am so tire" o# riting things that a limite" n!mber o# people rea"9 an" e"itors give me a har" time ith$ (his material is so important, an" m!st be share"9 yet it -!st "oesn*t seem to #it the e%pecte" mol"$ = g!ess =*m -!st aiting #or the part here <everyone bene#its> an" it seems to be taking a really long time$ So. 5ou want to complain. 2emem#er what your mother used to say, the complaint department is on the sixth floor $and in the #uilding where you li ed there were only fi e floors%. S!re, = remember9 she as something$ She still is . . . O7$ Go , let*s get back to the s!b-ect at han"$ $ $ hich isA = #orget$ 5our next #ook or, as it is more accurate to say, e eryone's next #ook. Because we are all one . . . remem#er? It might #e worth descri#ing and explaining our spiritual philosophy, as we understand it. 3ay#e ela#orate a little more on how we came to the conclusion that life is all a#out <me.= What do you think? O7$ =*ll give it a shot $ $ $ e*re calling this book S!#ism #or 3estern Seekers, rightA 5es, that's what we're calling it. . 7on ersations With 0od, #y &eale Donald WalschA knock-off kind of a thing . . . #uilding off of his great idea, and hopefully reaching as many people as he did with our own message. Do yo! think anyone ill noticeA

1H

Sure, #ut who cares? We're all one right? So, since we are working on the #ook, and are putting the time and effort into making it something that will help others, <someone= has already noticed, don't you think? S!re, b!t it*s getting o!r e"itor to notice that*s really the #irst challenge$ (ouchB. (o contin!e to e%plain o!r philosophy, basically e are all spirit!al beings ho have come into the earth phase to e%perience o!r selves, create an" "o all kin"s o# on"ro!s things$ Beca!se o# the physical, special nat!re o# this earthly realm, e have the capacity to create an" #reely choose many opport!nities$ (his capacity to #reely choose an" create makes !s, e%c!se the term, go"@like$ 2ach o# !s has a spirit!al aspect ithin that is most like the Divine9 in o!r tr!est essence e are all sons an" "a!ghters o# a 7ing an" travel thro!gh many orl"s, e%periencing an" co@creating o!r o n in"ivi"!al reality$ =n part, this comprises the larger reality, hich e e%perience an" help create on many "i##erent levels$ &ot #ad for a #eginning. &ow get down to the indi idual, specific life. 2ach person or so!l comes here ith a li#e plan or set o# things it ishes or nee"s to e%perience an" accomplish9 these things are #reely chosen an" are not impose"9 they are part o# a larger "esign$ .ost o#ten, the speci#ic aspects to o!r li#e plan are hi""en "eep ithin o!r so!l, !n#ol" over time an" come to conscio!sness as #eelings or i"eas9 #or e%ample, a "eep kno ing, = #eel strongly this is something = nee" to "o$ ?s!ally, e bring ith !s a skill set, temperament, an" en-oyment o# speci#ic activities that help !s accomplish o!r goals$ 2veryone has talents an" skills #or all sorts o# things$ =n the short r!n, some o# o!r li#e e%periences may be vie e" as pain#!l b!t in the long r!n are aspects o# the speci#ic "esign into hich the so!l has chosen to participate$ +or e%ample, a pain#!l beating "eath like my yo!nger brother*s as part o# the larger e%perience o# ho

20

he as an" hat he as to accomplish an" e%perience in his li#etime$ Sometimes, in or"er to move #or ar" e nee" to e%perience, hat on one level is :calle"* pain#!l9 yet, #rom a larger perspective is all part o# the one an" lea"s to a higher aspect or reali,ation o# sel#$ 0onsi"er the "r!nk ho can only come to tr!e spirit!al reali,ation a#ter years o# "rinking an" sel#@"estr!ction$ &itting rock bottom, so to speak, is sometimes necessary be#ore any #orm o# gro th or enlightenment can occ!r$ 2nlightenment m!st come little by little@ other ise it o!l" over helm$ ="ries Shah) (hat's good for a start. 9et's ela#orate a #it on our younger #rother's spiritual 6ourney so that the reader can understand what we 6ust explained more clearly. Ok$ =t*s not easy to share this ith everyone, b!t = hope that in sharing o!r rea"ers ill begin to !n"erstan" o!r spirit!al philosophy a bit more clearly$ .on+t "o to San $rancisco One "ay, = intro"!ce" my yo!ng brother Ben to Sam, my teacher in the mystical school$ At the time, Ben as an aspiring m!sician an" #elt his best m!sical opport!nities o!l" be in San +rancisco$ A#ter a #e visits, Sam ca!tione" Ben that he sho!l"n*t go to San +rancisco an" that he sho!l" stay in Ge Bork 0ity ith the people ho love" him$ Sam in"icate" that Ben co!l" p!rs!e his m!sical career in Ge Bork as ell as contin!e his spirit!al st!"ies here$ Ben event!ally le#t #or San +rancisco$ 6ater, hen = aske" Sam hy he ca!tione" against this move, Sam in"icate" he sa a "ark clo!" aro!n" Ben there9 an" i# Ben staye" here he o!l" be protecte" by his #amily an" the 6ight$ Sam sai", his spirit!al 6ight e%ten"e" only so #ar an" he #eare" #or Ben in San +rancisco$ As the years t!rne" to "eca"es, Sam*s arning came to pass an" Ben "i" not meet ith the overall o!tcome o# s!ccess he so!ght$ =nitially, Ben*s m!sic as s!ccess#!l, b!t this as short live"$ =n #act, it as a very "i##ic!lt time #or Ben that sa a gra"!al, lengthy "ecline in overall health, "r!g !se, an" his event!al br!tal "eath on the streets$ &o Sam as able to look into the #!t!re an" kno that "ark clo!"s #ace" Ben, at the time, = as !ns!re$ Also, that e%perience ma"e me stop an" think i# = ere #ace" ith this "ecision, o!l" = have "one the same thingA 3o!l" = have change" my plans, base" !pon a arning by a man = -!st metA &o many o# !s o!l" have "one thatA Bet, the 21

arning as given an" ignore" by my brother hose so!l chose to participate in a speci#ic seC!ence o# events$ So, again, the important lesson to take #rom Ben*s story is not that he sho!l" have listene" to Sam, b!t that he ha" to #ollo his spirit!al path in his li#etime$ People might think, <3hat a senseless ay to live an" "ie$> B!t as co!nter pro"!ctive as it may seem, Ben nee"e" to e%perience hat he "i" in his li#etime in or"er to move #or ar" along the Path$ Bes, hen e leave this place, e -o!rney on to the ne%t place an" a"vent!re$ +or some, it may be a ret!rn to the earth phase an" #or others, there are co!ntless orl"s an" "imensions to e%perience$ 6iterally, e are spirit!al travelers, going an" "oing9 creating an" "estroying9 all in the name o# the 6ight@ e%pressing o!rselves in co!ntless varie" #orms !ntil e ret!rn to o!r tr!e home an" reign alongsi"e the 6ight$ (his can be accomplishe" in an instant or over a h!n"re" li#etimes$ =t can be accomplishe" once or over an" over again$ (he great cycle o# li#e contin!es to t!rn, an" spirit!ally, ith the proper perspective, e can "o hatever e like9 e are all creators, ho each moment, -oin in creating o!r personal reality$ An" this incl!"es all o# the "ay@to@"ay <reg!lar> st!## as ell as the <big pict!re> st!## too$ &ot #ad. 5ou're making a lot of progress. &ow let's continue to explain the importance of an indi idual approach in spiritual studies. ! er time in the mystical school, while most of the sessions were in a small group, in order for the impact to take effect, the learning had to #e specific to the student. (he following story a#out our spiritual group's attendance at a conference illustrates one example of how indi idual teaching was offered. 7an you talk a#out what happened that day? S!re$ (his is an e%ample o# the kin" o# thing that happene" all the time ith Sam$ Indi%idual Approach to &earning 3e ha" -!st come o!t o# a pro#essional presentation abo!t the !se o# healthy pleas!res I8obert Ornstein, Healthy /leasuresAJ in every "ay li#e$ &appiness an" better health being achieve" thro!gh seemingly minor "aily activities5 looking #or ar" to an" eating o!r #avorite #oo", atching that ne , e%citing (K sho , or the #irst anticipate" c!p o# co##ee in the morning9 ith most people*s happiness being ma"e !p o# co!ntless small

22

pleas!res an" events$ (he big events, #or most people, like a e""ing, ne car, or a promotion ere #e an" #ar bet een, an" not the so!rce o# the greatest "aily pleas!res in li#e$ = remarke" to Sam, ho s!ggeste" o!r gro!p o# st!"ents atten"9 this approach co!l" be very help#!l #or "epresse" patients, an" o!l" be !se#!l in the "elivery o# therape!tic recreation services$ At hich point, Sam remarke", <Bo! miss the point5 this approach is #or the in"ivi"!al$> =n time, = came to !n"erstan" that hile this approach to happiness an" health co!l" help gro!ps o# people, al ays, the orientation nee"e" to be on the in"ivi"!al9 the gro!p as ma"e !p o# in"ivi"!als$ =t is the same ith spirit!al st!"ies$ (he orl" is ma"e a better place, one person at a time, by participating in spirit!al gro th an" "evelopment$ =n this ay, the hole orl" bene#its #rom the actions o# each in"ivi"!al$ Sam Saying Sam !se" to say that most people "el!"e" themselves by striving #or happiness or peace$ Both o# these con"itions ere transitory an" co!l"n*t be maintaine"$ 3hat people sho!l" strive to reach as 'o"@ 'o" as all that as permanent$ What do you say we gi e our readers an exercise) something practical to do that will help them connect with this material? So!n"s goo" L that*s hat helpe" !s get starte" in the beginning, hen e ere still so #!ll o# C!estions$ .aily Acti%ity: ?uiet9 Alone !ime Daily, each tra eler should set aside *,-C, minutes to tra el inward. (his is personal time where the external noise of the world can #e turned off and an examination of the many parts of self may #e conducted. We need to go o er the days e ents and examine our thoughts and reactions. (he emphasis on the identification of trou#ling thoughts, reactions and impro e upon them- #y reacting differently or su#stituting different thought patterns. If we ha e made a mistake, try to correct it and mo e forward. D en #usy mothers or executi es must #e selfish a#out this, and take the time to do something for self. Some tra elers do this at day's end and others wake up early) some ha e time during their lunch hour and others #y going for a walk after dinner. ! er time, we must recogni?e the many sel es so we can push them aside for a time, and unlock what lies #eyond daily consciousness. 0oing inward may #e accomplished through prayer, 6ournaling, meditation, or at day's end o#ser ing the repeating patterns of thought.

23

Sufism for Western Seekers


By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff

2221 Skyhigh Drive Bartonsville, PA 18321 September 2011

2;

A Sam Story*
Once there as a spirit!al traveler ho like other men orke", ha" a #amily, an" helpe" care #or his home an" comm!nity$ A""itionally, this man as blesse" ith the capacity to e%plain some o# the eternal tr!ths in bea!ti#!l, ritten lang!age$ &o ever, something as lacking in his riting an" it ha" limite" !se$ As the years ore on an" this man str!ggle" ith a"versity an" sickness, something happene"$ 'ra"!ally, a so#tness an" ten"erness appeare" in his ritings$ (his as the missing ingre"ient, an" as it as a""e", tho!san"s ere able to "erive bene#it$ ) )

________
) As per his ishes, to shiel" the teacher*s i"entity, Sam is a pse!"onym !se" thro!gho!t this man!script$

2D

Contents
Page Acknowledgements Introduction Chapter 4)My eligious !raining 4)I- "etting Started 4)II- #ur $irst Con%ersation- &ife is All a'out Me( 4)III-#ur Con%ersation Continues- *unger Pains that Can+t ,e Cured With $ood 4I4- Sufism and the Mystical School ,egin to -ase the *unger 44Sufis are -%eryday People &i%ing &ife as a Prayer -/pectation 0 ewards 1ind of World 44II- Are 2ou eally Saying We Can Co-Create #ur eality3 44III-Ancient !eachings 5eed a 67st Century 8pdate 44I)- Su'mission of Will9 $reedom of Choice and eal &ife Spiritual -/perience 44)- #rdinary People Shining -/traordinary &ight Into the World 44)I- Proof9 Miracles9 ,elief and Mo%ing #n $rom $irst School 44)II-%eryday Spirituality Story: The Star Child Appendi/ A: Article- ;!he Mystical School9< 'y .r= Stewart ,itkoff Appendi/ ,: Inter%iew- Sadi> M= Alam 0 .r= Stewart ,itkoff !opic: #n Mysticism 0 !he Mystery School $ootnotes 44)III- !ra%eler+s Creed 44I- .isco%ering and Choosing #ur *igher Sel%es in an

2E

Acknowledgements
+rom a spirit!al perspective, one o# the central aspects to li#e concerns learning #rom "aily e%perience an" reali,ing -!st abo!t any set o# circ!mstances can teach yo! something$ Over the last 2 years, orking on this man!script has ta!ght me abo!t mysel#, other people, an" the p!blishing process$ .y hope is that this combination o# #actors res!lte" in a richer, more in#ormative rea" #or the spirit!al traveler ho picks !p this book$ .y thanks to /ennine 0abrera an" Dr$ An"re .e,!recky #or help "eveloping this man!script an" getting the material rea"y #or the p!blisher$ A""itionally, thanks to Sam, 1ach, 2""ie, Pa!l, Ben, Steve an" other spirit!al travelers ho ere there in the beginning$ 3orking on this material, again has remin"e" me o# the on"er#!l heritage o# S!#i learning an" great teachers ho came be#ore an" help provi"e "irection #ar into the #!t!re$ (hese are the hi""en #rien"s o# h!manity, helping !s "aily to reach higher, +inally, thanks to my #amily4#rien"s5 6ea, .elo"y, &olly, 'reg, Abby, 2mily, 0aity, 7elly, 6o!, 8ose, .ollie, Br!ce, /e##, Bren"a, .ike an" .arty9 all ho have sho n me that love tr!ly :r!les the planets$* Also, all li#e*s going an" "oing means very little !nless there are people yo! love an" care abo!t to share -oy, learning an" e%perience$

2F

Introduction
.any people, at some point in their lives, think, <= sho!l" rite a book abo!t my #avorite s!b-ect9 = have so m!ch to say$> O#ten, =*ve come across others ho even have ha" a #irst shot at their man!script$ ?s!ally, it*s b!rie" in their closets, o# co!rse, #ar #rom seeing the light o# "ay9 b!t nevertheless, most o# !s have <the ne%t bestseller> in o!r hearts$ .y e%perience has been some hat "i##erent$ =*ve been riting #or a long time, an" = act!ally sel#@p!blishe" several books$ =*ve kept at it #or most o# my a"!lt li#e$ A #e years back, = revisite" one o# these sel#@p!blishe" books, "i" some e"iting, a""e" a marketing plan an" some p!blicity, an" embarke" on a -o!rney that c!lminate" in the p!blication o# A 0omm!ter*s '!i"e to 2nlightenment) in .arch 2008$ <A "ream come tr!e,> yo! may think to yo!rsel#$ B!t li#e is #!nny that ay, isn*t itA Bo! really "o have to be care#!l hat yo! ish #or$ (he e%perience o# being p!blishe" as at once e%citing an" "isappointing$ = ha" hope" to reach many, yet sales ere not that strong$ Altho!gh "isappointe", = as not "isco!rage"$ .y "esire to reach my #ello spirit!al travelers is still as vibrant as ever$ +or a #ollo @!p, = reali,e" that = ha" to take a "i##erent approach$ (his present riting, as the S!#is o!l" say, came abo!t thro!gh :a con#l!ence o# essences$* 3hile o##ering a #irst han" acco!nt o# learning in t o mo"ern S!#i schools, it also presents ho this learning is !se#!l in "aily li#e$ Over a perio" o# months, = searche" #or a topic that = #elt strongly abo!t an" co!l" "ra interest #rom to"ay*s estern spirit!al traveler$ = tho!ght a book on mysticism, as ta!ght in a estern S!#i school, might be a goo" place to begin$ Altho!gh immerse" in this topic, = have never consi"ere" mysel# an e%pert or tho!ght abo!t riting speci#ically on this s!b-ect$ = "eci"e" to embark !pon this pro-ect in the hope that = might a"" a ne voice to the mi%$ Someho all o# this came together, an" hat = present to yo! here are a series o# re#lections an" "isc!ssions abo!t some o# the basic C!estions #acing all spirit!al travelers 28

along the Path$ 3hether e reali,e it or not, all o# o!r lives are spent on a spirit!al -o!rney9 in"ee", every one o# !s is a spirit!al traveler$ 3hen #ace" ith crises o# spirit in o!r lives, e o#ten erroneo!sly think that e m!st retreat or isolate o!rselves #rom the <"ay@to@"ay> in or"er to #ollo o!r spirit!al nat!re$ =n #act, the opposite is o#ten tr!e, there is m!ch learning an" enlightenment to be #o!n" in hat o!l" other ise be consi"ere" m!n"ane or or"inary$ 2nlightenment can be achieve" in "aily li#e, "oing -!st abo!t anything9 an" both sets o# conscio!sness, the every"ay an" the spirit!al, operate sim!ltaneo!sly$ 6ike an onion, o!r levels o# conscio!sness an" a areness are m!ltiple9 in time, the spirit!al traveler learns to operate m!ltiple levels, to help sel# an" others reach to ar" complete, balance" living$ (ra"itionally, this is the ancient, nat!ral ay o# spirit!al "evelopment$ (he co!rse o# st!"y is in"ivi"!al, !niC!e to the speci#ic person, an" the o!tcome o# this teaching is a spirit!al traveler ho is able to !se his higher capacity in every"ay li#e to help sel# an" others$ =t is my hope that in rea"ing an" learning abo!t these spirit!al e%periences, yo! ill be inspire" to strive #or yo!r o n higher p!rpose every"ay along the Path$ = searche" #or 'o" an" #o!n" only mysel#$ = searche" #or mysel# an" #o!n" only 'o"$ S!#i Proverb)

What is Sufism3
!ra%eler5 When friends ask me what I study, and I try to explain, I find it hard to put into words, what is Sufism? Help me understand so I can gi e a clearer explanation. !ne of the great teachers offered, "long #efore there was a name $Sufism% there was a reality. &ow there is a name without a reality.' What is meant #y this is that there has always #een a way to connect with and experience ultimate (ruth) this spiritual path of learning existed long #efore tra elers, in the late *+,,'s, ga e this way of learning its present nameSufism. .t the time, local ascetics wore a distincti e woolen $soof% ro#e 2H

Master5

and #ecame known for this. &ow this name, or spiritual form, for many followers exists without a corresponding inner reality. !ften today, what you see in the world represented as Sufism is an empty shell of its former self. (his ancient /ath of spiritual de elopment is #ased upon connection with and experience of the Di ine. (his connection occurs in daily life doing a ariety of seemingly ordinary acti ities. It in ol es study with a teacher and the awakening, through direct contact with (ruth, of latent spiritual capacity) this is done so the tra eler can help others. (his (ruth or uni ersal essence, the spiritual tra eler seeks and experiences, is the underlying energy or fa#ric of created forms. (his /ath existed long #efore there were religions) this way of learning is at the heart of the great religions) it is the underlying spiritual energy that gi es e erything in the uni erse its form and su#stance. Inside each of us is an aspect of this wondrous element. (hrough preparation, practice de eloping our inner spiritual awareness, and 0race we unite with and ser e 1ltimate 2eality e ery day. 3y teacher called this /ath - the Superhighway to 0od. 4or those who wish to connect with (ruth and use their inner spiritual capacity to help others) this form of learning is a aila#le in e ery town and city. Sufism is not something talked a#out or descri#ed in written words) it is a uni ersal essence that is experienced and known through inner spiritual contact. 3uch like lo e) no matter how many words you use- the description is not the same as the actual experience. .nd like lo e which e##s and flows, Sufism changes to fit the learner, time and place. !ra%eler5 (his helps a little. Sufism is difficult to put into words #ecause it is a spiritual experience and changes with each person. 5et, I ha e #een in lo e and know there are different forms of lo e with many peaks and alleys that are impossi#le to descri#e) and no matter how pretty a poem or lo e song, it is not the experience itself. 2emem#er, e eryone is a spiritual tra eler and in their long 6ourney through this uni erse, experiences many wondrous things. 7ountless experiences go #eyond words and cannot #e written down- changing with each moment and person. (his dimension is one of the elements that make life so complex and #eautiful. If this is too difficult for those who ask a#out us to grasp, ask them to define lo e or e en life itself. .s they ponder all the possi#ilities then they will #egin to understand.

Master5

30

I-

My eligious ,ackground

= as raise" /e ish in Ge Bork 0ity9 on my #ather*s si"e o# the #amily e ere "escen"ants o# 8abbis an" accor"ing to o!r gran"parents, my great gran"#ather as a reno ne" philanthropist, teacher an" 8abbi in the ol" co!ntry be#ore their lan"s ere sei,e" by the 0,ar$ (o me, my early religio!s training as very con#!sing9 very little o# it ma"e any sense an" m!ch o# it as in &ebre , a lang!age = co!l"n*t !n"erstan"$ (here ere ancient c!stoms = co!l"n*t connect ith9 an" the ol" stories o# the prophets hel" no real meaning #or me$ 0onversely, both o# my gran"#athers #o!n" great -oy an" com#ort being part o# their congregations9 an" = love" an" respecte" them very m!ch$ Also, both my parents ha" their o n ay o# a"apting$ +or the most part, my #ather as too b!sy trying to make a living to care m!ch abo!t all o# this9 altho!gh he trie" to #ollo the ol" tra"itions as best he co!l"$ 3hile my mother !se" to la!gh at some o# the :ol" black cost!mes or tra"itional "ress* that conservative /e ish people ore, partic!larly, in the s!mmer H0 "egree heat9 she !se" to say, these clothes ere not practical an" they ere not trying very har" to #it into American li#e$ +!rther, she love" to atch the 2vangelist, Billy 'raham on television, an" ha" her o n private ay o# talking ith 'o"$ .ean hile on the streets o# .anhattan, = as constantly getting into #ights, beca!se = as /e ish$ Sometimes, the other 0hristian ki"s o!l" hi"e behin" parke" cars on the street, -!st o!tsi"e the temple e%it, an" po!n" !s ith rocks as e came o!t #rom &ebre school$ 3henever possible, = o!l" #in" one o# them an" as pay back@ kick their b!tt$ At the time, getting even ma"e more sense to me, than, the things = as learning insi"e the temple alls$

31

(o me, it as all abo!t s!rvival an" ignorance$ &ere, there ere a b!nch o# ki"s aiting to po!n" on me #or my belie#s, hich at the time, = "i" not believe$ 'o #ig!re$ So in or"er to s!rvive = ha" to take the necessary action$ Go a"ays, sort o# hat is still going on in the .i""le 2ast9 only ith a more "ea"ly o!tcomeA 8eligion is being !se" as a smoke screen #or a po er play9 one gro!p o# people being ta!ght they are right an" the other is rong, so, they can #eel goo" abo!t themselves an" take something #rom the other$ Perhaps, it as no "i##erent back then, as ell, in the ol" neighborhoo"$ Some ki"s getting their e%citement, !sing religion, to po!n" on someone else$ = have to say, that m!ch o# my li#e "i" not really make m!ch sense to me, !ntil my mi" an" early 20*s$ = as sort o# "ri#ting #rom one thing to another9 trying to "o the right thing, b!t not having anything, in ar"ly, to hol" onto an" provi"e "irection$ Bet, all abo!t me :the times ere a changing* an" ere e%citing9 the E0*s an" early F0*s@ all kin"s o# things ere going on an" = e%perimente" like others, b!t co!l" not connect, in ar"ly, ith anything, on a lasting basis$ +rom a spirit!al perspective, the early part o# my li#e as a preparation #or my moment o# a akening, altho!gh = "i"n*t reali,e it at the time$ 0ertainly, there ere people an" e%periences = #elt "eeply abo!t$ =n the C!iet moments, hen my min" as not #ille" ith people hom = love" or my ork an" school, this lack o# inner peace an" "irection p!she" me on ar"$ =n ar"ly, = as contin!ally searching #or an ans er to the C!estion, hy are e hereA 3hy is this orl" so transitoryA 3hat is li#e, hich is so #!ll o# -oy an" pain, really abo!tA +or many people, it is the religion o# their birth that ans ers this kin" o# C!estion9 their religion provi"es an inner #o!n"ation an" basis #rom hich to b!il" their lives$ +or me, = ha" to sip o# another c!p9 not being in ar"ly satis#ie" ith any religion or philosophy, !ntil = #o!n" an" e%perience" the 6ight$ =n ar"ly, = as not at ease an" the last place = looke" #or personal com#ort as religion9 no one ha" ever tol" me there as a "i##erence bet een an o!ter teaching, or religio!s

32

#orm, an" the inner e%perience, or essence, o# religio!s teaching$ =n ar"ly, at their higher levels, all the great religions are One9 an" this primor"ial energy hich gives them s!bstance an" li#e is holistic, vibrant, 6oving an" !n"er the right circ!mstances, co!l" be e%perience", in"ivi"!ally an" collectively$ An" all my in ar" searching9 being lost, h!rt, lonely an" restless as a preparation #or that moment o# a akening$ (he c!p ha" been empty, so the 6ight co!l" #ill it an" alter the "irection o# my li#e$ An" in or"er #or any li#e to have real meaning yo! m!st #eel passionately abo!t something, like the songbir" yo! have to have a song to sing, an" = as looking #or mine$ (he :great emptiness or h!nger* as p!shing me on ar"$ 3ithin each person there is an :empty space* that is aiting to be #ille" by the :6ight o# 'o"9* this emptiness mani#ests as an !nease, a "iscom#orting #ear an" ache9 it is this !nease, a #riction o# sorts that "rives people on ar", seeking to #ill this voi" ith all kin"s o# things$ (he orl" is #ille" ith many stim!li an" the traveler, !nless a akene", ill try to C!iet this primor"ial !nease an" res!lting #ear an" an%iety by mentally attaching their conscio!sness an" bo"y to -!st abo!t anything$ Spirit!al a akening is like the s!nrise o# a ne "ay, #illing the traveler ith hope an" -oy@ transcen"ing time an" space in one glorio!s moment o# !n"erstan"ing$ =t is an e%plosion o# energy that li#ts the traveler onto a ne path9 setting the heart aglo in a mo"ern S!#i school$ ith love, higher kno le"ge an" "eep peace$ (his happene" #or me thro!gh my participation

33

III-

"etting Started
!he Sufi ?uest

.an, e say e kno , originates #rom #ar a ay9 so #ar, in"ee", that in speaking o# his origin, s!ch phrases as :beyon" the stars* are #reC!ently employe"$ .an is estrange" #rom his origins$ Some o# his #eelings Ib!t not all o# themJ are slight in"icators o# this $ $ $ .an has the opport!nity o# ret!rning to his origin$ &e has #orgotten this$ &e is, in #act, :asleep* to this reality$ S!#ism is "esigne" as the means to help a aken man to this reali,ation, not -!st the opinion, o# the above statements$ (hose ho a aken are able to ret!rn, to start :the -o!rney* hile living the present li#e in all its #!llness$ (ra"itions abo!t monasticism an" isolation are re#lections o# short@term processes o# training or "evelopment, monstro!sly mis!n"erstoo" an" grotesC!ely elaborate" to provi"e re#!ges #or those ho ant to stay asleep$ .evlevi) (his C!ote by .evlevi "escribes hat the spirit!al traveler sets o!t to accomplish5 A aken a part o# sel# that has long been asleep9 in or"er to enrich the traveler*s li#e$ (his process or spirit!al path is a very ancient one, pre"ating #ormal religio!s teaching an", hel" among its #ollo ers to be the !n"erlying !nity, or common mystical e%perience inherent in all religio!s #orms$ = hope to help yo! become more a akene" by sharing the #ollo ing5 1pdated (eaching$ S!#ism is a living vibrant element an" is constantly evolving an" being !p"ate"$ =ts !niversal energy can li#t yo! !p an" alter yo!r li#e$ =ts learning stretches across a li#etime an" changes people, one person at a time$ (his timeless teaching changes to #it the traveler an" the times$ &erein, is a presentation o# this teaching that as o##ere" to a gro!p o# estern spirit!al travelers9 no one ha" to p!t on an e%otic garb, #ollo a "i##erent religion or leave their ork an" #amily to "rink o# this on"ro!s element$ =t as o##ere" ithin the conte%t o# every"ay li#e9 in a large city, at ork@ in a psychiatric hospital, an" "!ring l!nchtime$ Appealing to travelers #rom all religio!s backgro!n"s@ it is a :generic !niversal mysticism,* that accor"ing to tra"ition, is at the heart o# all religio!s teachings$ 3hat as o##ere" as an e%perience o# a timeless, ancient 3;

teaching that as !p"ate" into mo"ern lang!age !sing C!estion an" ans er$ Bet beneath this verbal e%change as a palpable spirit!al e%perience o# energy, an essence that transcen"e" the moment an" connecte" !s to !niversal conscio!sness$ (o the S!#i, this caress is calle" :the Belove"*s 7iss,* an" proves to the traveler there is a reality beyon" o!r "aily lives that has al ays love" !s$ Insider 8iew$ (ypically, most books on S!#ism are ritten by aca"emics, hose e%perience is a scholarly one as oppose" to an act!al spirit!al traveler ho has been initiate", embrace" an" has e%perience" the inner reality$ Accor"ingly, this riting o##ers a #irst han" retrospective vie o# hat takes place bet een the master, ho #or p!rposes o# con#i"entiality is calle" Sam, an" an in"ivi"!al traveler, as oppose" to hat "i##erent e%perts an" a!thorities have st!"ie" an" <translate"$> (hen, the story #ollo s the traveler to the ne%t school, an" o##ers a practical "isc!ssion o# the levels o# learning enco!ntere", across the years, in "aily li#e$ &utrient to 9ife$ Accor"ing to one o# the great teachers, S!#ism is a n!trient that enables the traveler to become spirit!ally "evelope"9 it is the missing ingre"ient an" #ills the :great h!nger,* hich propels !s all #or ar" in search o# higher meaning an" p!rpose$ (hro!gho!t this ork, there are n!mero!s e%amples o# ho this perspective or n!trient can be help#!l$ 9e els of .wareness$ Accor"ing to the S!#i, enlightenment can be achieve" in or"inary li#e, "oing -!st abo!t anything9 an" both sets o# conscio!sness@ every"ay an" spirit!al@ a#ter a perio" o# preparation, operate sim!ltaneo!sly$ (his narrative !tili,es a conversational "evice o# one aspect o# conscio!sness, every"ay a areness, talking to the higher aspect, spirit!al conscio!sness$ Sufism : (he /erennial /hilosophy$ Al"o!s &!%ley) an" others have ritten on the Perennial Philosophy hich s!ggests there is an !n"erlying !nity, or internal connecte"ness, to all the great religions$ (he orl"*s great religions are !nite" thro!gh this inner, primor"ial spirit!al energy9 o#ten, it is the o!t ar" e%pression hich changes an" is "i##erent accor"ing to time, place an" c!lt!re$

3D

+!rther, it is thro!gh this internal !ni#ying energy that the spirit!al traveler connects an" !nites ith ?ltimate (r!th$ Over the cent!ries, some have terme" this ay o# learning an" e%periencing ?ltimate (r!th mysticism$ =slam thro!gh its mystical branch, S!#ism, is the orl"*s most recent ma-or pro-ection o# this ancient ay o# spirit!al learning$ Bet, all religions have available at their very center the e%perience o# ?ltimate (r!th9 this inner spirit!al ay o# learning is the path o# the spirit!al traveler, an" is available to everyone all o# the time$ +!rther, this path e%iste" long be#ore =slam or S!#ism an" may be e%perience" in or"inary li#e, in"epen"ent o# S!#ism$ +or the spirit!al traveler, S!#ism an" this ancient ay o# perceiving !ltimate reality are one an" the same$ 3hile many o# the C!otes an" re#erences are S!#i ones@ similar vie s, C!otes, an" inner spirit!al e%periences are available thro!gh all spirit!al an" religio!s tra"itions$ One o# the #irst lessons ta!ght in the mystical school is ho to monitor "aily tho!ghts an" #eelings$ =sn*t it ama,ing ho many tho!ghts an" #eelings pass thro!gh o!r bo"ies an" min"s on a "aily basisA Di" yo! ever stop to consi"er thisA 'ra"!ally, thro!gh monitoring personal tho!ghts an" #eelings an" recogni,ing patterns, along ith g!i"ance #rom the teacher on ho to e%amine the !n"erlying ass!mptions behin" these patterns, the spirit!al traveler learns to master #l!ct!ations o# conscio!sness, being able to si#t thro!gh an" C!iet them9 in or"er to connect ith hat lies beyon" "aily a areness$ 3hile some #eelings an" tho!ghts are en-oyable an" easier to p!sh asi"e than bothersome ones, the spirit!al traveler, thro!gh practice, at speci#ic times, m!st be able to still all tho!ghts an" #eelings$ (he ass!mption being that once this is "one, the a areness "eep ithin, beyon" "aily cares, can be a akene"$ (his is the mystical process, p!shing asi"e "aily tho!ghts an" #eelings, in or"er to connect ith o!r o n inner higher conscio!sness$ 6ike a television remote, e learn to ork the channels in o!r min", so e can easily go to the "esignate" setting that plays <higher conscio!sness$> (here is a .i""le

3E

2astern -oke #ig!re, .!lla Gasr!"in, ho ill!strates ho he has mastere" an" in part ma"e his tho!ghts ork #or him$ .!lla Gasr!"in as visiting his psychiatrist$ Among the many C!estions the "octor aske" as5 <Are yo! bothere" by improper tho!ghts> <Got at all,> sai" Gasr!"in$ <(he tr!th is = rather en-oy them$>) =n the ne%t section, like Gasr!"in, e begin to play the "i##erent stations in o!r min" an" make them ork #or !s$ +or most travelers, these are the voices o# competing streams that a!tomatically come on to help !s5 hen e have a presenting problem an important C!estion to ans er or, a matter o# conscience to consi"er$

=n o!r "ialog!e, the higher conscio!sness or part that kno s the ans ers to the C!estions e ask o!rselves speaks !sing italics$ =n part, this is the a areness that the spirit!al traveler seeks to a aken an" #!rther "evelop$ (he every"ay min", hich is nee"e" to #!nction in the orl", o##ers the C!estions, an" <speaks> in reg!lar print$ (his is the part that m!st be C!iete" an" stille" so the higher conscio!sness can come #or ar" an" ans er$ By asking C!estions an" helping !s thro!gh li#e, the every"ay min" "oes its -ob, so, the higher conscio!sness, !n"er the right circ!mstances, can operate an" lea" !s higher$ ) )

3F

III-

#ur $irst ;Con%ersation< @ &ife is all A'out Me(

So hat yo!*re saying is that #or the most part, this li#e is abo!t me$ 3hile hat = "o is connecte" an" may be important to others, in the #inal analysis, it is all abo!t me9 no , "o = have this rightA /retty much. So many religio!s philosophies talk abo!t giving to others, helping yo!r #ello man, an" e are all one, connecte" spirit!ally, in the eyes o# 'o"$ So i# e take care o# o!rselves, aren*t e taking care o# everyoneA =*m having tro!ble reconciling the t o concepts beca!se, #rom my backgro!n" in psychology, = kno that researchers have #o!n" that even in giving, h!mans are helping themselves$ =n e##ect, there is no s!ch thing as tr!e altr!ism$ (hen, hy is there so m!ch emphasis, #rom a religio!s an" spirit!al perspective, on helping an" "oing right #or othersA Because it is part of our #asic human, social o#ligation, li ing in a larger community, to help our neigh#or) it is a re;uirement of #eing a human #eing and part of the 6o# of all religion is to set-up foundational social and moral alues. .lso, spiritually, #y helping others, for the most part, we are helping our self reach our personal highest potential) a selfish-altruistic form of expression. Sel#ish@altr!ism@ come againA 3hen = help another, = help mysel#9 ho "oes that orkA Because when your neigh#or is hungry or suffering, you are hungry and suffering. !n a spiritual le el, we are all one. .nd since we are all one, life is a#out me and <us= at the same time$ =*ve hear" that one be#ore, b!t it is pretty "i##ic!lt to make that ork on a practical, every "ay, personal level$ 6et alone !n"erstan" it totally an" #eel hat yo! are talking abo!t$

38

4rom a social perspecti e, here's an example. If your neigh#or is hungry and is suffering, their pain and desperation may cause them to steal, hurt another or commit a crime. In turn, this raises local insurance rates, people #ecome generally fearful and you may e en ha e an item taken from your own home. .lso, in some parts of the world, the hungry and desperate, in exchange for food and self-esteem are #eing taught their enemy is anyone who doesn't #elie e, in a religious sense, as they do. In exchange for needed food, they are #eing used and manipulated into #ecoming killing machines) #eing used to further selfish plans of indi idual power #rokers. It's interesting to note that suicide #om#ers rarely come from wealthy or politically influential families #ut from poor ones. .dditionally, research of olunteers indicates that for the most part, olunteers who help as little as > hours a week are #oth physically and mentally happier than their counterparts who do not olunteer. Scientists are starting to suspect that somehow helping others sets off #iochemical properties in the #rain and #ody that contri#ute to our o erall health and well #eing. O7$ =*m starting to get it $ $ $ So to help another might also help my overall health an" the general ell being o# the comm!nity aro!n" me$ Go , to go back to the original "isc!ssion, yo! mean that most o# the spirit!al learning an" personal e%pression, in this li#e, are basically #or mysel#9 not others $ $ $ not even my #amily$ /retty much$ (hat*s to!gh to rap my hea" aro!n"$ 6i#e is all abo!t me, b!t isn*t my #amily a part o# meA If it will help, let's go #ack to the #eginning of your life. &ow, why did you come here? As = !n"erstan", = came to this li#e to e%perience, create, ork, learn an" serve$

3H

5es. (hat is correct. We all come here to express who we are, and the highest expression of anyone's <self,= spiritually, is to help others. We are e;uipped with certain skills and a#ilities that assist in the de elopment of our highest expression. .long our spiritual path, we face specific experiences, which challenge us and ser e to further our de elopment. In gi ing of oursel es and helping our neigh#ors, we mo e forward to a higher reali?ation of self. Beyon" or"s an" "esires (here is an !n"erlying 8eality 3hich !ni#ies all things$ (his 8eality An" the metho" to perceive it =s the birthright o# h!manity$ =n their -o!rney thro!gh this orl" .ost people become "istracte" An" #i%ate on all manner o# things$ =n a sense, these things (hen become their reality An" they have no nee" o# anything higher$

So, my e%periences ith the spirit!al schools an" the "i##erent ays o# learning happene" to help me !nlock hat as alrea"y insi"e, so, = co!l" event!ally help othersA 4or the most part, that is correct$ = still "on*t get it, i# it*s mostly abo!t me, ho are e all connecte"A =t seems like a total contra"iction$ When the mind ;uestions, the heart or soul answers. !n one le el, we ha e discussed this with the example of the hungry neigh#or who is turned into a criminal or terrorist. 5et, you ha e to percei e the connection with your own inner spiritual capacity. (he real or lasting answer is not thought out@ it is percei ed or known #y another part of self.

;0

Another part o# mysel#A &o many <selves> "o = have any ayA (hroughout our li es we experience many sel es and that is the point of the different social roles we play. Some examples include, father, lo er, hospital worker, writer, teacher, little league coach and mem#er of a #owling team. Howe er, for our present con ersation and this #ook there are #asically two, the part that ;uestions, and the part that knows the answers. =t al ays comes "o n to that spirit!al kno ing "oesn*t itA 5es. It does. But remem#er spiritual knowing is natural and really not that difficult or complicated. Similar to how you know you are in lo e. /eople will ask, <How did you know?= Well, one day, after spending hours with your #elo ed, you 6ust knew. 2emem#er, you are a multi-le el #eing with many le els of understanding and knowing, that need to #e expressed in daily life. =t*s -!st not easy to operate on a "ay@to@"ay basis that ay$ 3e live on this earth ith other <reg!lar> people an" someho have to "eal ith <reg!lar> concerns$ (hese <reg!lar> concerns are annoying, take time, energy an" o#ten it*s har" to see the connection bet een the every"ay an" the more "ramatic spirit!al st!##$ Who said this was going to #e easy? .ll the <regular= stuff has its spiritual purpose, too. What good is spiritual learning if it isn't put into practice in daily life? (hat's why we undergo all that preparation and learning. (o help self and others reali?e the connection #etween the e eryday and spiritual. When the young mother suckles her #a#e in the middle of the night, how is this not an act of spiritual lo e? !r when the parent, at the crack of dawn commutes long distances to work to pro ide for their family? .lways, it is a matter of intention, a gentle lo e song we sing to help others. Bes$ Bes$ = kno it*s my -ob to help others thro!gh this riting, an" that*s part o# the reason = came to this li#e, b!t "o yo! think anyone ill believe any o# thisA

;1

Does it really matter? (his is a#out you remem#er, what you ha e to experience and express. Because in your highest expression, as we all are connected, e eryone #enefits. B!t = am so tire" o# riting things that a limite" n!mber o# people rea"9 an" e"itors give me a har" time ith$ (his material is so important, an" m!st be share"9 yet it -!st "oesn*t seem to #it the e%pecte" mol"$ = g!ess =*m -!st aiting #or the part here <everyone bene#its> an" it seems to be taking a really long time$ So. 5ou want to complain. 2emem#er what your mother used to say, the complaint department is on the sixth floor $and in the #uilding where you li ed there were only fi e floors%. S!re, = remember9 she as something$ She still is . . . O7$ Go , let*s get back to the s!b-ect at han"$ $ $ hich isA = #orget$ 5our next #ook or, as it is more accurate to say, e eryone's next #ook. Because we are all one . . . remem#er? It might #e worth descri#ing and explaining our spiritual philosophy, as we understand it. 3ay#e ela#orate a little more on how we came to the conclusion that life is all a#out <me.= What do you think? O7$ =*ll give it a shot $ $ $ e*re calling this book S!#ism #or 3estern Seekers, rightA 5es, that's what we're calling it. . 7on ersations With 0od, #y &eale Donald WalschA knock-off kind of a thing . . . #uilding off of his great idea, and hopefully reaching as many people as he did with our own message. Do yo! think anyone ill noticeA

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Sure, #ut who cares? We're all one right? So, since we are working on the #ook, and are putting the time and effort into making it something that will help others, <someone= has already noticed, don't you think? S!re, b!t it*s getting o!r e"itor to notice that*s really the #irst challenge$ (ouchB. (o contin!e to e%plain o!r philosophy, basically e are all spirit!al beings ho have come into the earth phase to e%perience o!r selves, create an" "o all kin"s o# on"ro!s things$ Beca!se o# the physical, special nat!re o# this earthly realm, e have the capacity to create an" #reely choose many opport!nities$ (his capacity to #reely choose an" create makes !s, e%c!se the term, go"@like$ 2ach o# !s has a spirit!al aspect ithin that is most like the Divine9 in o!r tr!est essence e are all sons an" "a!ghters o# a 7ing an" travel thro!gh many orl"s, e%periencing an" co@creating o!r o n in"ivi"!al reality$ =n part, this comprises the larger reality, hich e e%perience an" help create on many "i##erent levels$ &ot #ad for a #eginning. &ow get down to the indi idual, specific life. 2ach person or so!l comes here ith a li#e plan or set o# things it ishes or nee"s to e%perience an" accomplish9 these things are #reely chosen an" are not impose"9 they are part o# a larger "esign$ .ost o#ten, the speci#ic aspects to o!r li#e plan are hi""en "eep ithin o!r so!l, !n#ol" over time an" come to conscio!sness as #eelings or i"eas9 #or e%ample, a "eep kno ing, = #eel strongly this is something = nee" to "o$ ?s!ally, e bring ith !s a skill set, temperament, an" en-oyment o# speci#ic activities that help !s accomplish o!r goals$ 2veryone has talents an" skills #or all sorts o# things$ =n the short r!n, some o# o!r li#e e%periences may be vie e" as pain#!l b!t in the long r!n are aspects o# the speci#ic "esign into hich the so!l has chosen to participate$ +or e%ample, a pain#!l beating "eath like my yo!nger brother*s as part o# the larger e%perience o# ho

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he as an" hat he as to accomplish an" e%perience in his li#etime$ Sometimes, in or"er to move #or ar" e nee" to e%perience, hat on one level is :calle"* pain#!l9 yet, #rom a larger perspective is all part o# the one an" lea"s to a higher aspect or reali,ation o# sel#$ 0onsi"er the "r!nk ho can only come to tr!e spirit!al reali,ation a#ter years o# "rinking an" sel#@"estr!ction$ &itting rock bottom, so to speak, is sometimes necessary be#ore any #orm o# gro th or enlightenment can occ!r$ 2nlightenment m!st come little by little@ other ise it o!l" over helm$ ="ries Shah) (hat's good for a start. 9et's ela#orate a #it on our younger #rother's spiritual 6ourney so that the reader can understand what we 6ust explained more clearly. Ok$ =t*s not easy to share this ith everyone, b!t = hope that in sharing o!r rea"ers ill begin to !n"erstan" o!r spirit!al philosophy a bit more clearly$ .on+t "o to San $rancisco One "ay, = intro"!ce" my yo!ng brother Ben to Sam, my teacher in the mystical school$ At the time, Ben as an aspiring m!sician an" #elt his best m!sical opport!nities o!l" be in San +rancisco$ A#ter a #e visits, Sam ca!tione" Ben that he sho!l"n*t go to San +rancisco an" that he sho!l" stay in Ge Bork 0ity ith the people ho love" him$ Sam in"icate" that Ben co!l" p!rs!e his m!sical career in Ge Bork as ell as contin!e his spirit!al st!"ies here$ Ben event!ally le#t #or San +rancisco$ 6ater, hen = aske" Sam hy he ca!tione" against this move, Sam in"icate" he sa a "ark clo!" aro!n" Ben there9 an" i# Ben staye" here he o!l" be protecte" by his #amily an" the 6ight$ Sam sai", his spirit!al 6ight e%ten"e" only so #ar an" he #eare" #or Ben in San +rancisco$ As the years t!rne" to "eca"es, Sam*s arning came to pass an" Ben "i" not meet ith the overall o!tcome o# s!ccess he so!ght$ =nitially, Ben*s m!sic as s!ccess#!l, b!t this as short live"$ =n #act, it as a very "i##ic!lt time #or Ben that sa a gra"!al, lengthy "ecline in overall health, "r!g !se, an" his event!al br!tal "eath on the streets$ &o Sam as able to look into the #!t!re an" kno that "ark clo!"s #ace" Ben, at the time, = as !ns!re$ Also, that e%perience ma"e me stop an" think i# = ere #ace" ith this "ecision, o!l" = have "one the same thingA 3o!l" = have change" my plans, base" !pon a arning by a man = -!st metA &o many o# !s o!l" have "one thatA Bet, the ;;

arning as given an" ignore" by my brother hose so!l chose to participate in a speci#ic seC!ence o# events$ So, again, the important lesson to take #rom Ben*s story is not that he sho!l" have listene" to Sam, b!t that he ha" to #ollo his spirit!al path in his li#etime$ People might think, <3hat a senseless ay to live an" "ie$> B!t as co!nter pro"!ctive as it may seem, Ben nee"e" to e%perience hat he "i" in his li#etime in or"er to move #or ar" along the Path$ Bes, hen e leave this place, e -o!rney on to the ne%t place an" a"vent!re$ +or some, it may be a ret!rn to the earth phase an" #or others, there are co!ntless orl"s an" "imensions to e%perience$ 6iterally, e are spirit!al travelers, going an" "oing9 creating an" "estroying9 all in the name o# the 6ight@ e%pressing o!rselves in co!ntless varie" #orms !ntil e ret!rn to o!r tr!e home an" reign alongsi"e the 6ight$ (his can be accomplishe" in an instant or over a h!n"re" li#etimes$ =t can be accomplishe" once or over an" over again$ (he great cycle o# li#e contin!es to t!rn, an" spirit!ally, ith the proper perspective, e can "o hatever e like9 e are all creators, ho each moment, -oin in creating o!r personal reality$ An" this incl!"es all o# the "ay@to@"ay <reg!lar> st!## as ell as the <big pict!re> st!## too$ &ot #ad. 5ou're making a lot of progress. &ow let's continue to explain the importance of an indi idual approach in spiritual studies. ! er time in the mystical school, while most of the sessions were in a small group, in order for the impact to take effect, the learning had to #e specific to the student. (he following story a#out our spiritual group's attendance at a conference illustrates one example of how indi idual teaching was offered. 7an you talk a#out what happened that day? S!re$ (his is an e%ample o# the kin" o# thing that happene" all the time ith Sam$ Indi%idual Approach to &earning 3e ha" -!st come o!t o# a pro#essional presentation abo!t the !se o# healthy pleas!res I8obert Ornstein, Healthy /leasuresAJ in every "ay li#e$ &appiness an" better health being achieve" thro!gh seemingly minor "aily activities5 looking #or ar" to an" eating o!r #avorite #oo", atching that ne , e%citing (K sho , or the #irst anticipate" c!p o# co##ee in the morning9 ith most people*s happiness being ma"e !p o# co!ntless small

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pleas!res an" events$ (he big events, #or most people, like a e""ing, ne car, or a promotion ere #e an" #ar bet een, an" not the so!rce o# the greatest "aily pleas!res in li#e$ = remarke" to Sam, ho s!ggeste" o!r gro!p o# st!"ents atten"9 this approach co!l" be very help#!l #or "epresse" patients, an" o!l" be !se#!l in the "elivery o# therape!tic recreation services$ At hich point, Sam remarke", <Bo! miss the point5 this approach is #or the in"ivi"!al$> =n time, = came to !n"erstan" that hile this approach to happiness an" health co!l" help gro!ps o# people, al ays, the orientation nee"e" to be on the in"ivi"!al9 the gro!p as ma"e !p o# in"ivi"!als$ =t is the same ith spirit!al st!"ies$ (he orl" is ma"e a better place, one person at a time, by participating in spirit!al gro th an" "evelopment$ =n this ay, the hole orl" bene#its #rom the actions o# each in"ivi"!al$ Sam Saying Sam !se" to say that most people "el!"e" themselves by striving #or happiness or peace$ Both o# these con"itions ere transitory an" co!l"n*t be maintaine"$ 3hat people sho!l" strive to reach as 'o"@ 'o" as all that as permanent$ What do you say we gi e our readers an exercise) something practical to do that will help them connect with this material? So!n"s goo" L that*s hat helpe" !s get starte" in the beginning, hen e ere still so #!ll o# C!estions$ .aily Acti%ity: ?uiet9 Alone !ime Daily, each tra eler should set aside *,-C, minutes to tra el inward. (his is personal time where the external noise of the world can #e turned off and an examination of the many parts of self may #e conducted. We need to go o er the days e ents and examine our thoughts and reactions. (he emphasis on the identification of trou#ling thoughts, reactions and impro e upon them- #y reacting differently or su#stituting different thought patterns. If we ha e made a mistake, try to correct it and mo e forward. D en #usy mothers or executi es must #e selfish a#out this, and take the time to do something for self. Some tra elers do this at day's end and others wake up early) some ha e time during their lunch hour and others #y going for a walk after dinner. ! er time, we must recogni?e the many sel es so we can push them aside for a time, and unlock what lies #eyond daily consciousness. 0oing inward may #e accomplished through prayer, 6ournaling, meditation, or at day's end o#ser ing the repeating patterns of thought.

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