#1795 - Wednesday, May 12, 2004
#1795 - Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
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This issue features the writings of Laurence Galian, reproduced with the expressed permission of the author. Laurence Galian is the pen name of Laurence J. Gagliano. The relevant links are
The editors received the following letter in reference to Highlights #1793:Greetings!
After reading the great article "Illuminating the Shadow: An Interview with
Connie Zweig" it occurred to me that you may be interested in reading, or
exploring with me, my book "The Sun at Midnight: The Revealed Mysteries of
the Ahlul Bayt Sufis". I delve into the subject of the shadow in various
ways in the book. Part of the book consists of a fictional story which is a
re-telling of the exploits of the trickster figure of Sufism, Hazreti
Khezr, placed into a contemporary context. Also, the book explores how the
student might view the Sufi spiritual path from a non-dual perspective. I
was a student of Sheikh Nur al-Jerrahi (Lex Hixon) and I am initiated into
two Sufi Orders.
http://people.hofstra.edu/faculty/Laurence_J_Gagliano/LAURENCE GALIAN (Abdullah Muzaffer) is an initiate of two Sufi Orders: the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order and the Rifa'i-Marufi Order, being a student of Sufism for more than two decades. He is a full-time Administrator and the Senior Dance Accompanist at Hofstra University (Hempstead, New York).
The following excerpt is from Laurence Galian's "The Sun at Midnight: The Revealed Mysteries of the Ahlul Bayt Sufis"
“As long as there is duality, [one’s] relationship is with Adam and Eve. But when duality departs, the one [reality] is God. When the path of Lordship (rububiyat) appears, the dust of humanness departs.”
- Jabir Bin Abdullah Ansari
I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things”.
- Isaiah 45:7
THE VEILING OF TRUTH
The various schools, dergahs, ashrams, tekkes, organizations, and holistic centers that purportedly teach paths to “enlightenment” have some poor track records of late. To cover up their students’ widespread lack of enlightenment, the teachers of these schools portray enlightenment as something that is infrequent, unusual, and difficult to achieve. Ibn Ata’allah of Alexandria states, “One should distrust the shaykh who tells you that enlightenment is ‘far off,’ and trust the one who assures you that it is ‘near’.” Shaykh Nur al-Anwar al-Jerrahi illuminates, “Radical non-dualistic masters state that all conscious beings are already awake and that wakefulness is the very nature of consciousness. If you raise your hand before your face and hold up three fingers, you will know with absolute clarity and certainty, without any ambiguity, those are three fingers, not four fingers or five fingers. That kind of clarity is the natural, innate awakeness of consciousness.”
The traditional approaches toward spirituality are failing us during these difficult times. These schools turn out people who dress in “spiritual garments,” who can regurgitate an endless amount of aphorisms and spiritual-sounding jargon, yet these schools have failed truly to introduce these students to the All-Pervasive Reality of Existence. What perplexes us is the number of Sufi Sheikhs that give lip service to Rumi, al-Hallaj, al-Ghazali, and Ibn al-‘Arabi, yet do not heed these saints’ advice to transcend religion! These “lip-service” Sheikhs insist on emphasizing disciplinary religion and shariat over the World Encompassing Spiritual message that these saints exhorted. As the distinguished dancer-choreographer, Robin Becker who is deeply involved in Sufi studies, points out, “Breath cannot move through tension.” Certain Sufi Sheikhs, steeped in the traditions of their homeland, forget the fact that, “The Tradition offers us its ritual, culture, and wisdom, but we must apply these under new and always changing circumstances . . . we are dealing with a society that has different economic structure, gender relationships, and social norms.”
Contemporary spirituality has fallen into a great error! Specifically, we are referring to the error of focusing exclusively on Love and Light. We object to the “white light” view of the spirit world because this depiction overlooks the robustness, color, texture, strength, passion, fullness, and depth that the spirit world possesses. The spirit world of the “white lighters” is a thin, insipid, and one-dimensional place. These people are existing in an unreasonable state of happiness. “Dark” spirituality is not encouraged nor acknowledged as a valid spiritual way by various contemporary spiritual commentators. We recommend that the spiritually inclined heed the wisdom of Rumi on the subject:
“The inhaling-exhaling is from spirit,
now angry, now peaceful.
Wind destroys, and wind protects.”
Because Western religion has created this image of the “God of Good in Whom there is no Darkness,” a grand enantiodrama is occurring around the globe. The “Light” has been over emphasized in religion, and they have sentenced its opposite characteristic to the dungeon of society’s collective unconscious. Sometimes the repressed characteristic bursts forth wildly into daylight with a lethal force. We are witnessing this enantiodrama enacted daily as we watch the Evening News.
Tekkes, spiritual centers, and dergahs, are not immune from this process either. Michael Rogge writes, “Man in a herd may not show the best side of his nature. Unconscious drives may reign his behavior. This is applicable especially in circumstances that man strives for the spiritual. He may tend to show split-personality behavior. On one hand the spiritual personality which is supposed to have come to terms with his animal nature. It is wise, friendly and compassionate on the outside. In the shadows lurks the personality that has been forced into the background, still ridden with all the expulsed human frailties. In moments of weakness, it will see its chance to play hideous tricks. It will do so without being noticed by the person involved. The result being: uncharitable behavior, envy, malicious gossip, harsh words, insensitivity, unfounded criticism and even worse, not expected from such charismatic figure. It is one of the main reasons for people leaving a particular group in great disappointment.”
The Sufi poet Kabir informs us that,
“Between the conscious and the unconscious,
the mind has put up a swing;
all earth creatures, even the supernovas, sway
between these two trees,
and it never winds down.”
The followers of the “Good God” often denigrate the use of dark imagery. Yet, they miss an essential point. Certain aspects of our being exist in the evening twilight and night. The seed grows in the darkness of the earth. The fetus develops in the darkness of the womb, and the soul awaits rebirth in the darkness of death. Black also represents the feminine aspect of the Divine, an aspect overlooked by Western culture for too long.
Another aspect of the Divine of which Western culture is frightened is Death. Western society is conditioned to avoiding death. We do not wash, dress, and bury our dead - we give the job to funeral directors. One hundred years ago death was still a personal phenomenon. Black represents Death. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. states, “Without death there is no dark for the diamond to shine from.” The Sufi does not fear Death. He or she sees it as part of a sacred integral cycle. Death is the greatest gift of Allah. In his commentary on the Forty Traditions, Ibn Kamal says, “When you are confused, seek the help of the people of the tombs.”
Some modern day Sufis would have us distance ourselves from Islam and its matrix – Judaism and Christianity. These contemporary Sufis are uncomfortable with certain aspects of the above-mentioned religions’ holy books and histories, for example, the wars of Yahweh and Israel mentioned in the Torah, or the battles of the Prophet as he spread Islam recorded in the Qur’an. While these aspects are indeed unpleasant, life contains wars, murders, and terrible bloodshed. We are not asking the reader to embrace orthodox religion, but we are asking the reader to seriously consider accepting that spirituality is not a way to distance oneself from life’s unpleasantness. Spirituality is lived every day by every human on the face of the earth. As Shaykh Nur al-Anwar al-Jerrahi insightfully observed, “Let’s not talk about “spiritual” life. This sounds as if there are a few people living a spiritual life and the rest of humanity is not. This period of testing, of feeling everything is lost, happens with regularity to all human beings. They must get through it and that’s the way they grow. Human life itself is spiritual life.”
Life is not lived in “weekend retreats,” but through watching our parents die, earning our livelihood, the sweat and tears of raising children, and the daily interactions with everyone with whom we come in contact. This author gently warns the reader that if he or she prefers spiritual pleasantries and platitudes to the harsh realities of life, then we have not written this book for this type of person. People experience anxiety attacks, depression, nervous breakdowns, divorces, illnesses and frightening experiences. People do fight; they argue all the time. Some contemporary spiritual people believe that a truly spiritual person should be so “advanced” that these events do not occur to him or her. This is hogwash. We must nurture and develop each part of us.
We point out the fact that a child that does not eat properly will not physically and mentally develop correctly. A child that is not given love by his or her parents will not emotionally develop correctly. Food but no love, love but no food, will not make a mature adult. Humans have physical, etheric, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. Each must be cared for and appropriately nurtured.
The great spiritual initiate and Sufi, Gurdjieff, would not teach prospective students whom he thought were psychologically immature. Kabir Helminski, servant of Mevlana, defines maturity as follows, “By maturity we mean that overall development of character and virtue, including the ability to express oneself and participate effectively in the life around us.” First, Gurdjieff would send the “psychologically immature” to a psychiatrist with whose work he was familiar, who, in turn, would send them back to Gurdjieff when the psychotherapy had developed and steadied their emotions.
Besides the aforementioned aspects, each human being (except for the Prophet Muhammad – Peace be upon him), no matter how beautiful, walks around with a shadow at their feet. The journey to marifat (becoming the mirror of Allah) may be long or it may occur at your next breath, but in the meanwhile, we must encounter duality. Duality is as “Divine” as non-duality. The light and the dark must be regarded as sacred so we do not fall into faulting Allah for the thorns on the rosebush. Completeness, al-insan al-kamil, comes in stages, and one instruction of those stages is to be nonjudgmental and to embrace all parts of your being and life. There are no shortcuts. Do not try to take shortcuts.
At the beginning levels, the Murid prays for marifat, and sincerely tries to live as though this was a reality. At the intermediate levels, the Murid only praises Allah and only sees Allah. At the advanced levels, the Dervish returns to the sacred garden of duality as the Gardener.
We hold that pretending to be living in a state of marifat is dangerous for the inexperienced Murid. It is dangerous because the Murid often puts him or herself into the mind-set of denial, pretending he or she is a perfect spiritual being without a fault. Believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind. We feel that this attempt to be “perfect” is psychologically dangerous and a red-carpet invitation to the ego to run amok. Or else, the Murid will take the other tack, which is thinking him or herself to be a worthless and sinful, nobody. During your lifetime many events will happen, events that are not pleasant and that are painful. Often Allah sends these experiences to us for our spiritual development. In that sense, they can in no wise be construed as faults of the person or of the universe. Human experience is sacred – from the pain of childbirth, to the joy of seeing your newborn child. Spirituality is NOT about escaping unpleasant aspects of human existence. It is about Remembering our Source.
© 2003 Laurence Galian. All rights reserved.
Further information on this book: http://www.quiddity-inc.com/
Laurence Galian wishes to express his profound
gratitude to Terrie Dopp Aamodt, Professor of
History, Walla Walla College, who introduced him
to Shaker Gift Drawings and Gift Songs through
her presentation at the 2004 "2nd Annual Hawaii
International Conference on Arts and Humanities"
(Honolulu, Hawaii) entitled: "A Space Between
Heaven and Earth: Shaker Gift Drawings and the
Shaker Aesthetic". Professor Amodt can be reached
at: Walla Walla College, 204 S. College Ave.,
College Place, WA 99324. aamote@...
'Tis the gift to be simple
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in the place just
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend and we shan't be asham'd
To turn, turn will be our delight
Till by turning turning we come round right
- "Simple Gifts"
The following is an excerpt. To access the notes and to read the entire article please visit
THE CENTRALITY OF THE DIVINE FEMININE IN SÛFÎSM*
Copyright 2003 Laurence Galian. All Rights Reserved.
The Eternal Feminine
Draws us heavenward.
The world famous Islamic Sûfî poet Mevlana
Jalaluddin Rumi (1207 - 1273) writes: “Woman is
the radiance of God; she is not your beloved. She
is the Creator—you could say that she is not
created.” This paper calls attention to an
unexpected and little explored fact of immense
significance in Islam: at the center of Islam
abides the Divine Feminine.
Sûfîsm cherishes the esoteric secret of woman,
even though Sûfîsm is the esoteric aspect of a
seemingly patriarchal religion. Muslims pray five
times a day facing the city of Makkah. Inside
every Mosque is a niche, or recess, called the
Mihrab - a vertical rectangle curved at the top
that points toward the direction of Makkah. The
Sûfîs know the Mihrab to be a visual symbol of an
abstract concept: the transcendent vagina of the
female aspect of divinity. In Sûfîsm, woman is
the ultimate secret, for woman is the soul.
Toshihiko Izutsu writes, “The wife of Adam was
feminine, but the first soul from which Adam was
born was also feminine.”
The Divine Feminine has always been present in
Islam. This may be surprising to many people who
see Islam as a patriarchal religion. Maybe the
reason for this misconception is the very nature
of the feminine in Islam. The Divine Feminine in
Islam manifests metaphysically and in the inner
expression of the religion. The Divine Feminine
is not so much a secret within Islam as She is
the compassionate Heart of Islam that enables us
to know Divinity. Her centrality demonstrates her
necessary and life-giving role in Islam.
Sûfîsm, or as some would define it “mystical
Islam” has always honored the Divine Feminine. Of
course, Allâh has both masculine and feminine
qualities, but to the Sûfî, Allâh has always been
the Beloved and the Sûfî has always been the
Lover. The Qur’an, referring to the final Day,
perhaps divulges a portion of this teaching: “And
there is manifest to them of God what they had
not expected to see.”
Islam is aniconic. In other words, images,
effigies, or idols of Allâh are not allowed,
although verbal depiction abounds. There was a
question long debated in Islam: can we see Allâh?
The Prophet said in a hadith, “In Paradise the
faithful will see Allâh with the clarity with
which you see the moon on the fourteenth night
(the full moon).” Theologians debated what this
could mean, but the Sûfîs have held that you can
see Allâh even in this world, through the “eye of
the heart.” The famous Sûfî martyr al-Hallaj said
in a poem, “ra’aytu rabbi bi-‘ayni qalbî” (I saw
my Lord with the eye of my heart). Relevant to
the focus of this paper is that Sûfîs have always
described this theophanic experience as the
vision of a woman, the female figure as the
object of ru’yah (vision of Allâh).
There was a great Sûfî Saint who was born in 1165
C.E. Besides Shi’a Muslims, numberless Sunni
Ulemas called him “The Greatest Sheikh”
(al-Shaykh al-Akbar). His name was Muyiddin
ibn al-‘Arabî. He said, “To know woman is to know
oneself,” and “Whoso knoweth his self, knoweth
his Lord.” Ibn al-’Arabî wrote a collection of
poems entitled The Tarjumân al-ashwâq. These are
love poems that he composed after meeting the
learned and beautiful Persian woman Nizam in
Makkah. The poems are filled with images pointing
to the Divine Feminine. His book Fusûs
al-hikam, in the last chapter, relates that
man’s supreme witnessing of Allâh is in the form
of the woman during the act of sexual union. He
writes, “The contemplation of Allâh in woman is
the highest form of contemplation possible: As
the Divine Reality is inaccessible in respect of
the Essence, and there is contemplation only in a
substance, the contemplation of God in women is
the most intense and the most perfect; and the
union which is the most intense (in the sensible
order, which serves as support for this
contemplation) is the conjugal act.” Allâh as the
Beloved in Sûfî literature, the ma‘shûq, is
always depicted with female iconography.
Read the entire article here:
And continue your exploration of the Divine Feminine via Galian's book...