by MuHammad Nejmi
THE Following link may be of interest to readers about sufi-studies:
THE Point of all spiritual and moral human development may be said to make people individually fit and able and effective–on their own as real adults, necessarily alone perhaps–but “lonely” no more. Being effective means precisely being able at least “in imagination” to stand up to the aggravations of the momentary terrors and brief ecstasies of bodily life–and thus to create bigger worlds.
Therefore the motives of any “school of wisdom,” system of training, exercises, fasting, special underwear, drumming, ritual dancing, odd diets, ceremonial intoxication and so forth are at least two-fold:
FIRST Of all because the human being is a social animal there are the physical entertainment needs of people to be met. This is the level of molecular biological life. On this level so-called “spiritual activities” are intended to give animal people some alternatives to the usual round of consumption, drinking and partying. This is the underlying motif, for example, of ongoing church-attendance or regular public prayer in the mosque. On this level the regular meetings of the esoteric study-group fulfills the same function.
It all passes the time which otherwise might be idled away in vain fantasies of exclusively “personal” fulfillment on the level of “my” body, “my” self.
Then there is the matter of giving such people as can perceive it some new information–it is a matter of moving some new furniture into the brain. Or, later, of removing this stuff and learning how to use the brain itself in new ways.
THE Motives then are social–the purpose is the rescue of all creating creatures. And one must bear in mind that all are creators. The need therefore is for human conservators so to speak, or curators.
NOW Sooner or later any group will play out in its capacity to convey practical working tools.
The sign is when so-called religions for example go overboard on such collective fantasies as destroying “the infidel” and “fighting for justice.” (Just as when so-called foreign policy undertakes a crusade to promote “democracy” in unsuitable geographies and cultures.)
At this point, ritual, gossip and arguments about words and “truth” take over–and the “special group” takes its real place in society as another branch of the entertainment-industry, alongside the bar, the shopping maul and the sports stadium. However, time-for-time, some more individuals come away with a net gain in working knowledge.
Most of this cannot be taught in words and linear discourse. At the same time, loads of emotional experience beyond a certain volume produces incoherence–and the inability to do actual imaginal work. The purpose of a language-system is to supply a scaffolding merely, up and down which the artifacts of for example visionary experience may be assembled. Both discourse and direct experience then are necessary, both in due amount.
A teacher on some level is therefore necessary to prescribe for the individual student an exact program.
INITIALLY Teachers occur as outer figures and produce their effects in lectures, meetings with individuals and in writing and the other arts. Later one may receive inner figures who fulfill the same role and are not liable to the same physical constraints as the initial outer teachers. At this point, not a few start to become fit at last to be on their own and not always on the lookout for new excitement every day. This begins to happen when one no longer cries out hopelessly in the face of unending bad news on Tee Vee ( in a wonderful phrase which Peace Corps-volunteer si‘ Smit’, er, Smeeth taught me, in his delightfully profane southern Minnesota Eagle Lake-dialect:)
“Jee-sus Kee-rist! WHAT is WRONG with these Brain-Assholes?”
Instead of reviling others for being what they are one now is able inwardly to envision good outcomes for them all. This takes place in the silence of the quiet heart that does not need to say “I am praying for you.” And since the motions of fantasy on the electronic level are physically real, and with a lot lower signal-to-noise ratio, one begins to be able at will to travel on the business of all that lies beyond the future.
[Emmett R Smith
[all transcription rights reserved
[24 July 2006]