The Secret to 30+ Years of Freedom…

(It should be noted that all of this content was inspired by— and in many respects simply reframes and restates— a daily meditation by Sarah Young, whose writing often inspires me; although we have some fundamental differences)

As a person who has recovered from the seemingly hopeless state of mind and body that characterizes addiction to alcohol and other intoxicants, I would like to share some reflections on what has made this possible.

There is a Higher Consciousness that is virtually unused and often unknown to most people. It is a Power beyond our normal selves. Some deify it, like the Monotheists; others do not, like many Hindus and most Buddhists. I leave the decorations or lack thereof up to you, the reader.

What I can tell you is this Higher Power has not only saved me from the perils of addiction; but I have come to know and experience in my day-to-day life a most marvelous and fascinating interaction, (and occasional union), with what appears to me to be the Sublime Source of all that is!

When I seek such conscious connection, I find what is beyond my wildest dreams. This conscious contact erases worry and provides a Peace beyond words. It seems that the very nature of this Sublime Source is to bless; while I am made to receive with appreciation.

When I contemplate this Precious Presence the goal of all my seeking is satisfied. However, (human as I am), I all too frequently forget this Supreme Satisfier, allowing lesser desires to captivate my attention. As the Light of my conscious awareness dims, so does my pleasure in all areas of my life.

Therefore, I strive to remain connected through attentive-awareness to this Source of Higher Power and Satisfaction. Meditation helps with this—as does certain reading content. However, it does not seem to be within my complete control when and if I am consciously-connected. There are times when my behavior is completely out of line with these aspirations, and yet my awareness becomes flooded with a Consciousness not “my own.” In other words, this Higher Power will infuse me with a graceful favor when I need it most, at the very times I am least deserving.

Over the past 35+ years of this practice, I have learned by this process that my little “i” is not in control. Therefore, I submit my life to the service of this Greater Good—humbly acknowledging to the best of my ability that I am not “It,” although I am “of it.”

A King and His Prayers

Let it be noted this story is adapted from an ancient literature. As such, it should not be considered the original thought of the author. Certain liberties have been taken to adapt it to its newly intended audience.

Once upon a time, a Great Sufi mystic told the following tale of two powerful kings, who became entangled in battle.

The one King, Jamal, had been surrounded by his enemy and his forces grew weaker by the day. The battle had raged for weeks with neither side prevailing. However, due to a superior knowledge of the terrain, King Jamal’s enemy, who was operating in his own familiar element, had at last gained a distinct advantage. Consequently, it soon became apparent that he was to inevitably triumph over King Jamal’s forces. At the point of imminent defeat, the Great Mystic described how King Jamal convened a council of his most esteemed advisors seeking their guidance on how he could best proceed.

At first the military experts gave their opinions, all agreeing defeat was not avoidable. After they concluded that no strategy or tactic could reverse their fate each in turn, reluctantly advised Jamal to surrender. The King then turned to his most trusted spiritual advisor, inquiring as to what would be his most desirable course.

Having been thus called upon in such desperate circumstances, the wise counselor began to offer guidance to the King.

“You have, from your youth, been instructed in all spiritual knowledge from the various scriptural traditions. Not only are these ways of knowledge familiar to You, but you have also been taught a variety of meditative practices. What is the use of further directives if you do not know by now what there is to do?”

Having thus spoken, the counselor turned and abruptly left the King’s presence, without so much as taking his leave.

Being so curtly advised in the presence of all the rest of his entourage, the King solemnly turned without speaking a word and was seated. However, he did not sit upon his throne as one would expect. Rather he took a humble position, as one devoid of any rank or authority, on a simple cushion in the floor of his royal tent. Having done so, while disregarding all his counselors and ministers, with perfect intelligence the King fixed his mind in his heart and began to offer the following prayers.

King Jamal said, “Remembering You as The One full of all love and kindness, my Lord, I humbly offer my utmost respect. You are far above all we can ever conceive or describe; The Supreme; The All-Knowing. It is only by the Presence of Your Spirit in me that this body acts, lives and breathes. You are the cause not only of my existence, but of all that exists. As such, You alone are truly adorable among all of creation. You Alone have always been my One and only worshipable deity, and You are the God of all the Great Sages and Prophets. Nevertheless, You have entered the hearts of each and every one of us, out of Your Causeless Mercy. May I meditate on You Alone.

You who Alone are God and, as such, The Supreme Platform upon which everything rests, are also The Source out of which everything has been produced, and The One who has created and remains the cause of all other causes. And yet, You are different from both the cause and the result of what is created. I surrender unto You Alone, The Supreme, The Only Self-Sufficient One.

There is none aware but you, The One Aware Alone. Simply by the expansion of Your energy this creation is made visible, and by withdrawal of the same energy You render it invisible. You Alone are both The Ultimate Cause and The Supreme Result, The Observer and The Witness. Thus, are you far above all that we can conceive or think. May You grant us Your supreme protection.

When, in due course of time all the causative and effective manifestations of the universe are annihilated, there is a situation of dense darkness. Even then You remain, above such darkness. I therefore, take shelter of You Alone.

An artist onstage, being covered by attractive dresses and dancing with different movements, is not understood by his audience; similarly, the activities and features of the supreme artist cannot be understood even by Prophets or Messengers, and certainly not by those who are unintelligent like animals. Neither the Prophets or Messengers nor the unintelligent can understand Your features, Lord; nor can they express in words Your actual position. I shelter in You who are this One Aware Alone, and in whose Presence is the Pleasure of All Loving-Kindness!

Even the Friends of God and Companions of the Prophets who are equal to all and kindly disposed toward everyone, and whose outward appearance of deen is flawless, desire to be the most near to You. May Your most intimate association also be my destination!

You are The Supreme, far above anything we can conceive or think! As such, You are Oneness unbegetting and unbegotten, unencumbered by birth, activities, name, form, qualities or faults. Your creation fulfills Your purpose, and You are free to appear in it as You please. You have immeasurable and inconceivable potencies and you are ever free from any form or contamination. All Your acts are supreme and wonderful, and I beg to be surrendered unto You!

I bow before You, who are The Glowing Effulgence of my heart, the witness of all, and who enlighten my individuality and cannot be reached by words, mind or consciousness.

You are only realized by the pure in heart, by the potency of loving union. You Alone bestow uncontaminated happiness and You are The Master of all Mysticism. Therefore, I offer all honor and respect to You.

I prostrate to You Alone, who are All-Pervading, to the ferocity of Your command, and to the tenderness of Your Mercy; to Your Superior Intelligence, and to Your Wisdom, by which all of Your appearances are governed. I bow before You, who Alone are beyond the distinction of attributes, and yet who displays all attributes within this creation. Out of Your Limitless Mercy and Divine Grace you relate to us as our Immanent Beloved, and yet You remain transcendental to all personal qualities, beyond all we can conceive or think. We worship you in all Your limitlessness. We thank You for the appearance of such attributes and limitations, whereby we are enabled to relate to You.

I bow before You, who are the Supreme-Self, the superintendent of everything, and the witness of all that occurs. You originate material nature and are the Reservoir of all its energy! You are also the ultimate owner of even my material body. Therefore, You are the supreme complete. I happily bow before You Alone.

My Lord, You are the observer of all the objectives of the senses. Without Your mercy there is no possibility of solving the problem of doubts. In fact, the material world is just like a shadow resembling You. Indeed, one accepts this material world as real because it gives a glimpse of Your existence.

You are the cause of all causes, but You Yourself have no cause. Therefore, You are the wonderful cause of everything. I bow before You, who are the shelter of all Knowing and the Supreme Source of all Revelations. You are also the source of the all Prophetic Traditions. You are The Bestower of all Salvation, and it is You Alone who can liberate and give Shelter. I bow before You, again and again!

My Lord, just as fire in wood is covered before the first spark is struck, You and Your Limitless knowledge are covered by the veils of Your creation. You however, are not contaminated nor affected by Your creation. Those who are advanced in Your Way are not subject to the rules and regulations of religion. Nevertheless, out of compassion for those that still are, they often act accordingly. However, due to the advanced nature of the loving relationship these transcendental souls have with You, their Beloved, they are constantly relating to You in their pure minds. I bow before You who make such transcendental relationships possible for those who are most dear to You!

Although, like an ignorant animal I continuously find myself lost in the veils of Your material illusions, by Your Divine Grace You somehow have made it possible for me to surrender unto You. You who are Supreme Liberation, I call upon to kindly release me from this precarious position. Indeed, being The Source of All Mercy and Kindness, You have always been offering us such deliverance. By Your Manifesting as the Lord of the Heart, You are Yourself the most intimate associate of all living entities, ever-beckoning us to surrender. You are celebrated as direct transcendental knowledge, and You are unlimited. I therefore bow unto You, who Alone are God.

And while there are those who are completely freed from material contamination, always meditating upon You within their hearts; for those like me, who are too attached to mental concoction, home, relatives, friends, money, servants and assistants, You are extremely difficult to attain. I therefore thank You for my present seemingly undesirable arrangement, which motivates me to seek Your aid. You Alone are Supreme, uncontaminated by Your creation. You are The Reservoir of Enlightenment, The Supreme Controller, forever working to make a way for us to surrender. I therefore bow before You Alone.

By pleasing You, who are The Supreme Provider, those who are interested in religion, economic development, sense gratification or liberation will obtain from You what they desire. What then is to be said of other benedictions? Indeed, You may even grant such ambitious worshipers the ultimate attainment, of Your closest proximity in Paradise! May You, who are so unlimitedly merciful, bestow upon me the benediction of liberation from this present danger and from all these desires for the dunya.

The pure of heart, who have no desire other than to serve You Lord, worship You in full surrender and always hear and speak of Your glories, which are most wonderful and auspicious. Thus, their consciousness remains merged in the sea of Your transcendental bliss. Such of Your beloveds never ask You for anything. I however, presently appear to be in grave danger. Thus, I pray to You, who are eternally existing, who are invisible, who are the Lord of all great personalities such as The Prophets and Sages, and who are available only by transcendental loving service. Being The Most Subtle, You are beyond the reach of my senses and transcendental to all external realization. You are The Unlimited, The Origin of All, and You are completely full in everything. I humbly bow unto You.

You are my God, Lord and Master, and The Creator of All Things, including all other living entities, both moving and nonmoving, with their different names and characteristics. As the sparks of a fire or the shining rays of the sun emanate from their source and merge into it again and again, the mind, the intelligence, the senses, the gross and subtle material bodies, and the continuous transformations of material nature all emanate from You, and return to You, again and again. You are neither angel nor jinn, neither human, nor bird or beast. You are not a woman or man, or neuter; nor are You an animal. You are not a material quality, a fruitive activity, a manifestation or non-manifestation. You are the last word in the discrimination of The Absolute Truth, and You are The Unlimited. All glories belong to You Alone!

Once saved by You from these present dangers, I no longer wish to continue a life here on Earth. What is the use of a residence behind these veils, once one has glimpsed Your eternal liberation from these coverings of ignorance—these coverings which are not destroyed by the influence of time.

Now fully desiring release from this earthly existence, I bow before You who are the creator of the universe and who are Yourself the very form of the universe, and who are simultaneously transcendental to this cosmic manifestation. You are The Supreme Knower of all things, the Supreme-Self of the universe. You are The Unbegotten, supremely situated Lord. I bow before You, again and again!

My Lord, You are the strength of the strong, the reservoir of all sense pleasure and the protector of the surrendered souls. You possess unlimited energy, but You are normally unapproachable by those, like myself, who are unable to control their senses.

I bow before You, O’ Supreme Lord. By Your illusory energy we forget our real identity, as the veil of the bodily concept of life falls over our fitra. I take shelter of You, O’ Supreme Lord, whose glories are difficult to understand.”

The Great Sufi mystic continued: “When King Jamal was describing The Supreme Authority, without mentioning any particular name, he did not invoke the angels, nor address the Lord by any singular Attribute.

After being apprised of the awkward position of his forces from his counselors, and receiving a final instruction from his closest spiritual advisor the King, Jamal, who had offered his prayers to God Alone as he understood Him, bowed in prostration and with what appeared to be intense difficulty he uttered the following words, “O my Lord, Master of the Universe, O Supreme Lord, I bow in complete submission before You.” Having spoken thus, he collapsed there on the floor of his tent. Upon investigation by those present it was found that this Great King and surrendered servant of God had given up his life, at will, in the Presence of his Lord.

It is said that all who so much as hear the tale of this Great King and his surrender with the proper attitude of submission, will themselves enter into Paradise.

A Quranic Defense of Islam – Part 1

بِ سْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم

“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”– Quran 1:1, (Yusuf Ali)

I will begin in remembrance that there is none Aware, but The One Aware Alone!

لَّا  يَمَسُّهُۥٓ  إِلَّا  ٱلْمُطَهَّرُونَ  

“None shall touch it save the purified ones.”– Quran 56:79, (Hamid S. Aziz)

I will also elucidate herein why The Final Testament, Al Quran, is beyond reproach, as only a purified heart can touch It’s Noble Understanding.

ذَٰلِكَ  ٱلْكِتَٰبُ  لَا  رَيْبَ  فِيهِ  هُدًى  لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

“This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God”– Quran 2:2, (Abdel Haleem)

The preeminence The Quran places on mindful awareness cannot be overstated. Without it, no good deed has any merit, and even becomes an error. With it, even that which appears as a wrong can transform into transcendent benevolence. The key to understanding and benefiting from The Quran lies in such conscious awareness. The keyhole for this key of mindfulness is through humble submission, or peaceful surrender.

There is presently a wide variety of disagreement and misunderstanding of what is commonly referred to as “Islam.” What was revealed to the heart of the Prophet Muhammad, (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), has from the very beginning been received and understood, or rejected and misconstrued in innumerable ways and for a wide variety of reasons.

Recently a meme of social media came to my attention, which illustrates many of the most severe misunderstandings and typical distortions common today. I would like to shed some light on these misconceptions which have long been used to attack and defame Islam, and to blaspheme the very Spirit of the Quran’s teaching. This is what the “kafiroon” do. They conceal, cover and deny the very Spirit of Truth, being themselves ungrateful, thankless, unappreciative disbelievers and deniers devoid of faith. This Arabic word, “kafiroon” has all these connotations, but is usually poorly translated as simply “disbelievers.” This is of course, a gross oversimplification, losing far too much meaning in the process. What is even worse, on other occasions the word may be completely mistranslated as “infidels.” Oftentimes, the distortion of these “kafiroon” become so great as to make a mockery of the very art of translating itself! Unfortunately, this is all too common today.

The social media meme addressed in this series of articles is a case in point. The verses, (more properly called ayat; or ayah in the singular), are so misleading as to beckon the question as to whether they represent purposeful distortions.

They are as follows:

2:191 “Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them.”

The verse is best translated, “Fight them, wherever you encounter them…” as it prompts believers to “drive them out from where they drove you out.” This would not be possible if they had all been killed.

It is also critical to remember why the fighting was authorized in the first place. It was an answer as to whether they should retaliate to defend themselves, even within what was considered a sacred place (e.g., within the masjid, or the boundaries of Mecca). If engaged in a careful contextual reading of The Quran, the previous ayah, 2:190, would have just informed us to, “Fight in God’s cause against those who fight you…” while also adding, “…but do not overstep the limits.” There is agreement among scholars that these limits are 1) to initiate hostilities; 2) to fight non-combatants; and, 3) to have a disproportionate response to aggression.

It is also evident from ayah 2:191 that the believers were being persecuted, afflicted and oppressed. The first portion of the verse affirms, “persecution is worse than killing.” That this is the context is also obvious from the later part of the same ayah, where it is said, “Do not fight them near the Sacred [Masjid] unless they fight you there. If they fight you there, then kill them– such is the reward of [those who cover, conceal, and reject Truth; and who are themselves ungrateful, thankless, and unappreciative] disbelievers [who are deniers devoid of faith].

That it is not the desire of Allah, or the message of The Quran, that we slay anyone without such just cause is apparent from ayah 2:192 where Allah commands, “If they cease hostilities, there can be no [further, sic.] hostility, except towards aggressors [i.e., oppressors].

Understanding this context, who would object to a verse that tells believers to defend themselves against those who attack them, regardless of where they are, and to slay those persecuting oppressors when they do attack?

The next verse (ayah) fragment is: 3:28 “Muslims must not take the infidels as friends.”

A better translation of this could be, “Let not those who can be safely and securely trusted, [whose hearts have become quiet and tranquil, and whose minds are free from the expectation of evil and devoid of hatred, who bring an assurance of faithful confidence in their belief, manifested through humble submission], let not these take the disbelievers, [who by their very nature conceal, cover and reject the Truth, being thankless and unappreciative deniers who are utterly devoid of faith], as allies instead of their trustworthy friends.”

The above difference in understanding is among the best of examples to illustrate why it is incumbent upon every Muslim man, woman and child to learn what the original Arabic Quran has to say to them, specifically!

Furthermore, as noted by Muhammad Asad when commenting on the same wording in ayah 4:139:

The term “allies” (awliya, sing. wali) does not indicate, in this context, merely political alliances. More than anything else, it obviously alludes to a “moral alliance” with the deniers of the truth: that is to say, to an adoption of their way of life in preference to the way of life of the believers, in the hope of being “honoured”, or accepted as equals, by the former. Since an imitation of the way of life of confirmed unbelievers must obviously conflict with the moral principles demanded by true faith, it unavoidably leads to a gradual abandonment of those principles.

The difference in the two ayat (3:28 vs. 4:139) is the later adds, “… do they hope to be honoured by them when, behold, all honour belongs to God [alone]?” Thus, we have demonstrated here a rhetorical device that reveals the importance of The Quran’s style of repeating/comparing/contrasting, ayah upon ayah, to broaden and deepen the understanding of certain critical points.

Therefore, it is not just that the initial quotation in this case was misleading, inadequate and taken out of context. It also ignores the richness of understanding inherent in the Arabic revelation; as well as the style of The Quran to place contextual layer upon contextual layer, to further broaden and deepen the understanding of the devoted reader.

Awareness

Awareness is The Way; The Way of Being rightly aligned.

Forgetfulness is to miss the aim of life, which is to be consciously aware.

With Awareness comes a patient appreciation. Over time this patient appreciation instills apprehension, which leads to realized knowledge beyond mundane information. This realized knowledge, when it ripens, yields the fruit of wisdom. Wisdom, when applied as life’s guide, brings the only lasting freedom, and the purity of peace.

Do not attempt to confuse this by confabulating it with dualistic ideas of of diety. There is none Aware, but The One Aware Alone!

Universal In-Dependence Part 1

Thank you for Your Presence; my Awareness thereof, and Your Love!

I am present in the Presence of the One, All Aware, to make (“the required” or  “a voluntary”) conscious-connection of the (morning, mid-day, afternoon, evening, night, late-night, etc.), focusing my heart on the Qibla

To the One Aware alone, who’s even greater!

Transcendent and Glorious art Thee, and Yours is the praise; and blessed is Your remembrance; and beyond exaltation, Your majesty; and there is none Aware but the One Aware Alone.

We shelter in this One Aware Alone, in whose Presence is the Pleasure of all Love and Kindness;

From the misidentifying mind;

Rejecting its false ego, along with its devaluing debasements of every kind.

Residing in the Precious Presence of Pleasurable Awareness, All-Loving, Ever-Kind, we begin.

Celebrating and appreciating, we give thanks to this One, Aware of all that is with a peaceful mind;

Loving and Kind;

And thus we see every moment masterfully designed;

This Awareness we adore as aid’s only source;

Our guidance on a way noble and straight;

A way without taint, full of favor and grace;

Not of displeasure’s complaints, nor of those who deviate.

We acknowledge that there is none Aware, but the One Aware; and we affirm that Your messenger is simply a slave raising such awareness, by perfectly delivering and demonstrating this message of awareness.

To the One Aware alone, who’s even greater!

Be Aware, and experience Our Presence, The Pleasure of love, Ever-Kind!

Celebrating, appreciating, and giving thanks with a peaceful mind;

Experience this– Most Loving, Ever Kind;

Mastering every moment’s design.

This alone adore, as aid’s only source;

Your guidance on a way noble and straight;

A way without taint, full of favor and Grace;

Not of displeasure’s complaints, nor of those who deviate.

We have no “other” to worship– just Thee!

There is no “other”– just This!

This is Thee, and Thou art The Oneness of Absolute and Eternal Refuge! Oneness un-begetting and unbegotten.

There is nothing but Thee!

We meditate on Thee as Illuminating Generative Light; And upon all Your glorious attributes. These are Your Holy Names; and they are the basis of all that exists.

As The Source of All that Is, You alone are adored as omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, self-existent Conscious Being. Only You, who remove all ignorance and disturbance from the mind, are capable of purifying and sharpening all intelligence!

From the darkest regions of ignorance that which was thought to be the “i” was formed. This idea of “i” came forth, with the eyes of understanding closed tightly shut. With Your torchlight of knowledge You enlighten these eyes. In the light of this sight we bear Your torch.

I thank You for This, Awareness of Your Presence– The Present Moment, Now– as it is! I devote all to This, to facilitate Supreme Enjoyment; which is life’s highest pleasure. I thank You for the will to do whatever is required– confident of Your perfection– and the patience to persevere and endure to the end. I give all praise and thanks to You, O’Supreme Source of Being, mindful that such Conscious Awareness is Thy Saving Grace!

This is Love; to be deeply rooted in Your Presence; in Aware Appreciation of what is. I adore this!

Preparing to begin, I contemplate the day as it spreads before me. Directing my thoughts to You, O’Highest Consciousness, I relinquish any attachment to selfishness, dishonesty, self-pity, and the many forms of false egoistic fear. If disturbance, agitation, doubt, or uncertainty plague me, I pray to relax; seeking refuge in the inspiration of Your Presence, and guidance for right-thinking or action. I am thankful for the power to walk in Your Divine Understanding, as it is revealed to me—as well as Your gracious release from the bondage of self-will. Consciously aware, liberated from the delusions of self-seeking, and harmonizing my will to Yours, O’Highest Consciousness, I will do what is to be done today. Thus, I am free of the dangers and disturbances of self-centered fears, arising from the selfishness of the ego’s lust, anger and greed. Such liberation allows for better decision-making, and more efficiency. This absence of a separate agenda allows for a conservation of energy. Because I am not extending myself to arrange life to my liking, I remain serene, equipoised and full of vitality. For This, I give thanks!

I am as I am; one with all existence. Every day, every situation and even every breath continuously brings transformation, expansion, growth and development. This is so by the Grace of Peaceful Surrender. This is not something that my little “i” has done. Surrender is not an action of myself. It is a gift, for which I am eternally grateful! You have made it immanently accessible, by inspiring the cessation of struggle and action, through meditation. This has resulted in my ultimate return and reunion with You, O’Source of All Strength. By such Graceful Surrender You have freed me from the demands of a self-centered agenda; thus protecting me from the creation and harboring of errant views. Such liberation from the ego’s incessant commands allows for complete spiritual integration and transcendent unity, both internally and externally. By this sublime process You provide the freedom for me to exemplify meditation and meditative spiritual practices– and to join with others in this endeavor of loving kindness and peaceful surrender– by all means. I am now what I am meant to be — a divine trustee of creation and the Creator, embracing goodness, purity and light– emancipated from darkness, evil and negativity.

With life has come this opportunity, to submit the delusion of “I”, this idealized self, as a peace-offering; a sacrifice to serve as a refuge for all people, for this planet and for all of creation. I am accepting this divine mandate as my only worthwhile occupation, my reasonable service, and Your intimate and cherished trust. Thus is my illusion of self transmuted into a pillar of peace, presence and light. And this, not in any separate sense of existence, but in a stupendous and glorious display of Your Graceful Presence in each environment encountered. This is so whether at home, at work, or in spiritual gatherings. It is true whether interacting socially or professionally. It is the case at all levels of transaction, whether personal, communal, national or international. By the grace of such surrender, peace naturally exudes forth from it’s Source, affecting all who are in proximity. Nor, have You limited the scope or design of these results to any particular class or rank, but have afforded them to all who surrender. It’s not just a word. It’s not an idea or a belief. It’s a way to live and be in the world. Thanks to You, it is my reality!

–12SteppinSufi