Posts with category - Defeating the Ego

Cycle of Humility

Humble beginnings lead to lofty states, but lofty opinions of oneself lead to events that humble…such is the cycle of life.

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Gems from M.E.C.C.A. Center’s “Seekers’ Journey to Allah (God): the Hikam of Ibn Ata’illah” with Shaykh Samir an Nass (August 29-31 2014)

We used this text in class: http://themathesontrust.org/papers/islam/ibnataallah-hikam.pdf

Some select Hikam I would like to post:

Hikam 14:
The Cosmos is all darkness.
It is illumined only by the manifestation of God in it.
Whoever sees the Cosmos and does not contemplate Him
in it or by it or before it or after it is in need of light
and is veiled from the sun of gnosis
by the clouds of created things.

Hikam 48:
A sign of the heart’s death
is the absence of sadness
over the acts of obedience you have neglected
and the abandonment of regret
over the mistakes you have made.

Hikam 56:
Light is the army of the heart,
just as darkness is the army of the soul.
So when God wishes to come to the help of His servant,
He furnishes him with armies of lights
and cuts off from him the reinforcements
of darkness and alterities.

77:
The gnostic is not one who,
when making a symbolic allusion,
finds God nearer to himself than his symbolic allusion.
Rather, the gnostic is the one who,
because of his self-extinction in His Being
and self-absorption in contemplating Him,
has no symbolic allusion.

85:
Outwardly, creatures are an illusion;
but, inwardly, they are an admonition.
Thus, the soul looks at the illusory exterior
while the heart looks at the admonitory interior

104 (excerpt):
“The daytime sun goes down at night,
But the sun of gnostic hearts never goes down.”

115:
The devotees and ascetics are alienated from everything
only because of their absence from God in everything.
Had they contemplated Him in everything,
they would not have been alienated from anything.

120:
Ritual prayer is the place of intimate conversations
and a mine of reciprocal acts of purity
wherein the regions of the innermost being are expanded
and the rising gleams of light shine forth.
He knows of the existence of weakness in you,
so He made the number of ritual prayers small;
and He knew of your need of His grace,
so He multiplied their fruitful results

144:
The most ignorant of all people
is the one who abandons the certitude he has
for an opinion people have

161
Your wanting people to know your specialness
is a proof for your lack of truthfulness in
your slavehood.

205:
Sometimes Spiritual lights descend but finds
the heart filled with images of physical things
and thus goes back to where it came.

245
He placed you in the middle realm between His physical world
and metaphysical one to inform you of the loftiness
of your rank among His creatures.
You are a gem enclosed by the shells of created forms.

259
Sometimes a long life is fruitless.
And sometimes a short life is extremely fruitful.

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Prof. Chittick on Traditional Learning

My heart cries tears of joy to see my teacher. :)

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Gems from Al-Maqasid Retreat 2014

Gem # 1:
“We were created to receive Divine light. A person who does not live up their potential in this world will regret it in the next…you are the extraterrestrial of this world, this is not your real home.”
-Shaykh Muhammad Mendes

Gem # 2
“That which proves ones humility to the self is when one is content when he is not given preference over others in a place where he deserves it.”
-Notes from Ustadha Nagebah Hayel’s class

Gem # 3
“How many of you have a garden?

It’s very important to grow some of your own food, even if you live in a NYC apartment it is possible to grow herbs such as mint and lemongrass.

Remember that every plant has its own dhikr. Every food, like human personality, has its own temperament (hot, cold, moist, dry). Every color has its own vibration. The attitude and mood we prepare our food in will manifest itself in the meal. The way our food has been raised and then transported to your fridge will impact and may degrade the nutritional content. Grow what you can, and increase the nutritional content of your food.

Eliminate soda from your diet.
Red meat is NOT the 6th pillar of Islam! (Lol)
The prophet (pbuh) said: ‘The meat of the cow is poison, and the milk is a cure.’
Embrace herbs and super foods such as spirulina and mint tea.
Use air purifiers in your home.

Overall, have an intense consciousness of your home environment and the food you place into your body. You become a reflection of what you eat.”
-Short Recap from Holistic Healing Workshop with Salahuddin Tauhidi and Sh. Muhammad Mendes

Gem # 4
The priority of the Shariah is the prevention of harm, which is defined as ‘a pain and the means to it, and anxiety and its causes’. This is a sophisticated system because it includes mental suffering as a priority to prevent.
After prevention of harm comes the procurement of benefit, which is defined as ‘a joy/pleasure, and the means to it’.

La ilaha illa Allah is a covenant between you and God, but that covenant has a ‘fine print’, and that fine print is fiqh (sacred law).
-Notes from Shaykh Jihad Brown’s class

Gem #5
“Every human being is a kabah that must destroy the idols within.”

Gem #6 & 7
“Women are inherently generous, which is why it is mandated for men to provide for them, so that men can learn to become more generous.”

“Rabiah al-Adawiyah was the fourth daughter in her family. Her father was so tired of having daughters that he wanted to name her ‘Number 4′. Little did he know that she would grow up to be one of the most influential and spiritual women in Islamic History, where her writings are widely read and stored in thousands of masajid, and that she would become known for her asceticism and deep love of God.”
-Notes from Shaykh Mendes’ Class

Gem # 8
“Children are the sirr (secret) of their parents. They are the outward manifestations of the latent possibilities in their parents.”

Gem # 9
“Just like how we look up at the night sky and view the stars with awe and fascination and say, ‘SubhanAllah’, the angels look down and see gatherings of dhikr (remembrance) as stars glittering the earth.”

Gem # 10:
“The more you are in touch with the spirit, the more you will connect with people on the level of the spirit.”

Lastly, here is a beautiful rendition of Qasidah Ya Imam Ar-Rusuli that I recorded;
Sung by Munshid Ghuydar Bashmaf, Sidi Nader Khan, and most of the teachers at the retreat:

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A Secret to Spiritual Heights

A letter from a friend in Dubai…

“I am glad you are looking at this as a character building opportunity insha Allah (God-willing). Do not fret over something that you did not get, it was not written for you. At the end of the day it is all about whether you became a better person out of it or a worse person and if you become worse person then you are dealing with it entirely incorrectly and have to revamp your character traits and behavior. Life is about living for others and not for yourself.  In some areas of the West, you are taught to be self centered and selfish and you really do not grow out of it until you have your own kids, and for some people that is only when the kids are younger. Later on they morph back into their selfish, self centered selves. The key is to think about others before yourself or “serving the creation” combined with serving he Creator. You serve the creation because of love of Allah SWT and for the sake of Allah SWT, not expecting any reward from anyone but Allah SWT and that is what Allah SWT asks you: your selflessness. and this is a little secret in achieving spiritual height.  It is not just with adhkaar (remembrances) but with patience, sacrifice of your desires, your wishes, and sometimes your rights.”

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Existential vs Social Suffering

Here is a powerful article written by John Powell regarding Spirituality and Suffering. I got it from a friend who attended an event on Social Justice and Spirituality.
http://ir.stthomas.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=ustlj

The author discusses two types of suffering that humans experience:
1. Existential suffering- innate to the human experience, trying to address meaning or meaningless in life
2. Social suffering-not innate to human experience and comes from structural violence.

Some profound quotes from the article that I liked:

“If spirituality is the engagement with the deeper sense of self, the divine or God, the narrow engagement with the egoistic self is the lack of spirituality. The suffering then that is caused by the separation cannot be healed by this small self. And it is this same self and the institutional arrangement that it collectively bring into being that cause suffering in the social world.”

“Throughout this article, I have been using concepts that might appear to be outside of the domain of secular society and even utopian. I have asserted that the work to bridge the spiritual and the secular has to be informed by suffering and love. I have also asserted that spirituality calls us to move beyond the egoistic self to something deeper, more intimate, and authentic, but less private. Finally, I have asserted the need for recognition of our interconnectedness and our interbeing. It would be easy to assume that this call is otherworldly and idealistic; but properly understood it is neither. The call for having this project be informed by love requires a love that is engaged in our situatedness with all its imperfections. It is not calling for an idealistic love. Instead this is a call for what Habermas refers to as a regulative idea, which is an idea that orients the vision and the direction of this project but is grounded in concrete reality. This idea can save us from being lost in a means without a sense of an end. But we must hold these ideas or ends open to revision. This requires that we create our structures necessary to support these ideas. It also requires that the ideas are recursively related to the reality we are co-creating. We have not created much space to recognize our interbeing.”

“If one rejects the first part of my assertion that the suffering of an individual is a cause for concern and engagement, then there is no reason to engage the role of institutions and structures in producing suffering. I have been asserting that the issue of suffering, even in the secular space, is a fundamental spiritual concern. And therefore one must be cognizant of the source of that suffering. It is particularly troublesome when one is actively or passively the beneficiary of such suffering. What does owning a slave do to the spiritual development of the slave master as well as the slave?

This has been explored by Hegel and Fanon, who address the relationship between the master and the servant.  But the question needs to be enlarged. To focus on the relationship between the master and the slave still looks at the relationship in individualistic terms. Slavery in the United States was a peculiar institution that affected the entire society including non-slave holding whites and free blacks. What I am asserting is that this institutional arrangement affects the spirit of the nation and all those in it.”

“I have talked about the need to address suffering that is both ontologically based as wel as socially based. But there is another important dimension to spirituality. We are not only pushed by suffering to something deeper and larger than the egoistic self, we are also pulled. What pulls us is love. Love gives us the hope and reality of reconnecting. It heals the sense of loss and separation that haunts the egoistic self. And for love to be realized, the ego is called beyond self. The very self-containment of the ego limits it to a narcissistic love that can never move beyond itself and is therefore always trapped in separation. It is for this reason that virtually all spiritual practices require one moving beyond the self. We are pushed out of the prison of separation by the suffering of isolation. We are pulled out by the hope of love. It is no wonder that love plays such an important role in major religions. In a world that is unjust, hard, and rigid, there is not only a great deal of surplus suffering; there is also little space for love.”

“There is reason to suggest that as we deny the other or use structure to do the work of social distancing and denial, which we deny ourselves and our spiritual lives suffer. Then what is our spiritual relationship to these self-denying structures when they are already in place? …The engagement with the suffering of others is not just a matter of service for an always otherwise spiritual being but a way to know and claim our own spirituality. “

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Commotion of the soul

The imagination is like fire
The intellect like steel
The body fans the flames of desire
While the Heart-Judge sets the deal.

In all this commotion
The spirit yearns to feel
A worldly separation
And ascendance to the Real

In Him there is liberation
The raging soul calms to a breeze
And through this Divine connection
Lies permanence in ease

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Relationship between the Tongue and Heart

“Imam Ali said that a man lies hidden under his tonque, because the tonque expresses what’s in his heart. Whoever loves a thing, does much remembrance of it. If you love God, God is on your tonque. If you love the world, the world is on your tongue.

The heart belongs to Allah, it is God’s…so the question is, where is your heart?”

-Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

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Firefly

When I grab you, your light is hidden beneath the clasp of my hand.
When I release you, your light is shining for the world to admire.

I shall release you forever, so that your light may be multiplied endless times over.

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Blind Eye but a Seeing Heart

I have been working in a clinic where vitamin and chelation therapy is done for patients diagnosed with various diseases, heavy metal toxicity, and vitamin deficiencies. I have become very comfortable with several of the patients, some have even become my friends. One day a sweet, elderly patient was leaving. I am very fond of her. Unfortunately she is diagnosed with cancer of the bone and blood. Last week she became blind in one eye. As she was leaving, I waved to her and called out her name. I wanted to wish her a warm goodbye. She is such a beautiful soul. However she responded very sadly: “I never thought that I would get blind…” I have seen her cry about this before. I didn’t know what to do, so I immediately spoke from my heart on a subject I love to talk about: spirituality.

I said (paraphrased): “There are people in this world who can see but have blind hearts. They lack compassion, they lack depth of understanding from within. You, however, have a heart of compassion and understanding. It is better to be outwardly blind but inwardly perceptive, rather than inwardly blind and outwardly able to see.” I think she and her daughter pondered this for a minute, responded with “thank you” and continued on their way. I hope I was able to help her in the slightest way. What else could I have said? Before saying this I used to just repeat “I’m sorry” to her when she was telling me about her loss of vision.  This time her daughter was smiling at me when they walked away. May God make it easy for them both.

Later it reminded me of the ayah in the Qur’an: “It is not the eyes that are blind, but it is the hearts.” (22:46)

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