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#2430 - Sunday, March 26, 2006 - Editor: Gloria Lee

"My heart will always fly to you like a bird, from any place on earth, and it will surely find you."
-- Etty Hillesum
posted by Ben Hassine  

    Greetings of Peace Dear Friends:
   Here is a short and true Sufi story for your enjoyment.

Meeting the Master

On the day before summer, I finally met the Master. And though I have
thought of him often and dreamed of him and talked to him in my mind,
even missed him as though we were separated family, I had never
actually met him nor spoken to him.

            Over the years I have read all his books and heard many
stories about him. And for many of those years I had written a Sufi
novel entitled Master of the Jinn, a project whose research led me to
read many Sufi texts, and whose unfolding became almost like a zekr
as I worked on it for hours each night. For much of that time I was
fortunate enough to live in a khaniqah, whose library and energy and
knowledgeable darvishes helped enormously.

Now, I thought, I had created something worthwhile enough so as to be
worthy of meeting the Master and being in his company. How little I
knew of the Master, or of his loving-kindness.

 And so, after ten hours of travel, I arrived in England, and by
chance met a fellow darvish who apparently was on the same plane. He
saw my sleeping bag and guessed I was going to the same, very crowded
khaniqah. There was to be a large gathering of dervishes from all
over the world and many brought tents or sleeping bags.  Together we
traveled to the khaniqah by taxi.

            Shortly after we arrived, the Master called us into his
room, as he does all dervishes who come from a far distance. We went
into the small bedroom of the main house, kissed the threshold, and
entered. The Master was dressed in white and sat cross-legged, and we
sat on our knees before him. He greeted us warmly, and as he looked
at me his face lit up with wide-eyed surprise and joy, as if I were
someone he was not expecting but happy to see. Perhaps it was my
imagination, but my heart sang. I remembered well the tales of the
Master's glance and attention.

He asked how our trip had been.

            "It was a good trip, one I want to make often,
inshallah," my companion said.

            "Sufis are always inshallah (God willing)," the Master
replied. "There is no need to say it."

            We nodded our heads, and after a few kind words, he
smiled and said, "Welcome, then" and waved us out.

            As soon as we were outside, I felt a sharp pain in my
left knee, as if I had twisted it, though I could not for the life of
me remember how.. I limped upstairs to get some aspirin, and found a
darvish there whom I knew well.

            "Do you have another pair of pants with you?" he asked me?

            "Only a pair of sweats. Why?"

            "Because you have a large tear in yours, on the seat."

            I turned my head to look, and groaned. It was a wide tear.

            "Get a needle and thread from someone and sew it," he

            "What the hell is going on?" I thought, taking the
aspirin and changing into sweat pants for the time being.

 Once outside, I met a Shaykh I knew walking on the grounds and
greeted him happily, kissing his cheeks.  He asked how I was doing.

"Well, I've been here for half an hour and I've already twisted my
knee and torn my pants," I said.

He chuckled, "Such things are common here."

I borrowed needle and thread from one of the darvishes and walked to
the sleeping area to mend the tear.  As I limped along the path, I
realized suddenly what a fool I had been. I had walked in with pride,
and limped out in humility. I had come in arrogance and received torn
pants for my folly.

"Thank you, Master!" I cried.

And the words of the great Junayd came to my heart.

"I will go a thousand leagues in falsehood, that one step of the
journey may be true."

by Irving Karchmar, author of Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel.
Copyright 2005, All rights reserved. posted to Allspirit

  Come, come, whoever you are -
wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.

It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you've broken your vow
a thousand times, come,
yet again, come, come.

~ Rumi  


The "really wise man" is Bach at the organ; Basho when he heard the
frog jump into the always silent water; Eckhart when he said just
before his death, "Where to us God shows least he is often most";
Hakurakuten when he bought the hens from the butcher and released
them; Mrs. Gamp when she put her lips to the gin-bottle; the three
sisters Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie in the treacle well, learning to draw a
"muchness"; Mozart bursting into tears as he sings his own requiem;
Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy gazing with "joy" at the glow-worm.

The violent activity, the silent intentness, the talking, the tender-
heartedness, the greediness, the nonsense, the unutterable grief, the
utterable joy, -these are enlightenment.

From 'What is Zen'
  Gill Eardley posted to Allspirit

  There Is A Brokenness
by Rashani

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
Beyond all grief which leads to joy
And a fragility
Out of which depth emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
Too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of whose darkness we are sanctified into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
Whose serrated edges cut the heart
As we break open
To the place inside which is unbreakable
And whole.

On a deeper level, teachings are occurring all around us, all the time, through
the daily events that some perceive as instructional or perhaps inspirational, the
Wisdom display, the self-arising inner Guru as the Mandala of our lives. Whereas
others perceive the same daily events as we do, but only "experience" their
Mandala to be "mundane" or barren of meaning. Through "suffering" even those
of such limited "view" are drawn to seek some relief or a path leading to
authentic happiness and love. Their inner Guru is always functioning and offering
the appropriate "teaching" for them at that time... how amazing! Could it be that
the Great Perfection is always present and guiding in us in all we do?
  Jax  posted to Dzogchen Practice  

  I don't think we talk enough about the need to apply either 'will' or some
alternative melting exercise' before we can achieve the 'relaxed' dzogchen
states. After all, dzogchen came out of a highly disciplined approach to
meditation. It's one thing to teach 'Thou art That' to a dedicated disciple
and quite another to teach it to someone with no experience. This brings to
mind also Aziz Kristof's essay on 'False Advaita,' in which he states:
" We would like also to create a few practical anti-pseudo-advaita
'You are not awakened unless you awaken!' 'You are not That, unless you
reach unity with Universal I AM!' 'There is no Path but only for those who
Completed it!' 'There is nobody here, but only when somebody has dissolved!
Until that time you are simply a suffering somebody who only tries to
believe in being no one, or entertains oneself by giving 'satsang.'"
Yee-haw! Go-gettum!

Ramon Sender posted to Way-of-Light  

  "In our scriptures [samyuktagama sutra, vol 33] it is said that there are four
kinds of horses; excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones. The best
horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver's will, before it sees
the shadow of the whip. The second best will run as well as the first one does,
just before the whip reaches his skin; the third one will run when it feels the
pain on its body; the forth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of
its bones."  

"When we hear this story, almost all of us want to be the best horse. If it is
impossible to be the best one, we want to be the second best. This is, i think,
the usual understanding of this story, and of Zen. You may think that when you
sit in zazen you will find whether you are one of the best horses or one of the
worst ones. Here, however, there is a misunderstanding of Zen. If you think the
aim of Zen practice is to train you to become one of the best horses, you will
have a big problem. This is not the right understanding. If you practice Zen in
the right way it does not matter whether you are the best horse or the worst
one. When you consider the mercy of Buddha, how do you think Buddha will feel
about the four kinds of horses? He will have more sympathy for the worst one
than for the best one. When you are determined to practice zazen with the
great mind of Buddha, you will find the worst horse is the most valuable one. In
your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind.
Those who can sit perfectly physically usually take more time to obtain the true
way of Zen, the actual feeling, the marrow of Zen. So I think that sometimes
the best horse may be the worst horse and the worst horse can be the best

"If you study calligraphy you will find that those who are very clever with their
hands often encounter great difficulty after they have reached a certain stage.
This is also true in art and in Zen. It is true in life. So when we talk about Zen
we cannot say, "He is good," or "he is bad," in the ordinary sense of the words.
The posture taken in zazen is not the same for each of us. For some it may be
impossible to take the cross-legged posture. But even though you cannot take
the right posture when you arouse your real, way-seeking mind, you can practice
Zen in its true sense."  

~ Shunryu Suzuki "The Marrow of Zen" in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind"   ts posted to Allspirit  


Turning Toward Pain
Pema Chödrön discusses her discovery of Buddhism and explains how pain can be a great spiritual teacher.
Interview by James Kullander
This interview is reprinted from The Sun magazine by arrangement with the author.

Jump to Pema Chödrön talking about:
Discovering Buddhism | Judging ourselves | The "death feeling" | Negative emotions | Turning toward pain | Meditation | Peace in a violent world | 9/11

You've been a Buddhist monastic since 1974. That's a long way from being a wife, a mother, and an elementary-school teacher. What attracted you to Buddhism?

The truth is I didn't know it was Buddhism that I was attracted to initially. In 1972, I read an article by Chögyam Trungpa, who would become my principal teacher. The article made terrific sense to me, but I had no idea that he was describing Buddhism. I was living a countercultural life in northern New Mexico. There were a lot of communes around, and I explored them all. One week there'd be a Hindu swami in the neighborhood, the next a Zen roshi, the next a Native American teacher, and the next a Sufi master. I really didn't distinguish between them, and no one encouraged me to do so.

Then my marriage ended and—I've realized since then that this is fairly common—it was one of those crises where everything fell apart. I couldn't feel any ground under my feet. It was devastating.

The word depression was not used much back then, but I think I went into a major depression. At the time, however, I had no words for it. All I knew was that the pain was intense, and there was nothing I could do to get out of it. Any of the usual strategies for entertaining myself or finding comfort only exaggerated the pain. Going to a movie, eating, smoking dope—it all somehow made the pain worse.

I started looking for ways to deal with my anger, which seemed unfamiliar and out of control. The groundlessness I felt had a fearsome and panicky quality to it. I was offered plenty of advice, but it all seemed to boil down to a similar message: "Turn toward the light" or "Chant yourself into a higher consciousness." It was useless to me. If I could have simply turned toward the light, I would've done so happily.

I had two children and was teaching school at the time, and one day I came out of work and got into a friend's pickup truck. On the front seat was a magazine that Chögyam Trungpa had published in the 1970s. It lay open to an article titled "Working with Negativity." The first line was something like: "There's nothing wrong with negativity." I took this to mean: "There's nothing wrong with what you're going through. It's very real, and it brings you closer to the truth." The article explained that when you find yourself caught in extreme discomfort or negativity, the negativity itself is not the problem. If you can have a direct experience of that pain, it will be a great teacher for you. The problem is what Chögyam Trungpa called "negative negativity," or reacting against negativity and trying to escape it. It was the first sane advice I had heard for someone in my situation. As I read, I kept nodding and saying to myself: This is true. I didn't even know that Chögyam Trungpa was a Buddhist teacher, or that it was Buddhism I was reading about. Once I connected with it, though, I never looked back. I felt—and I still feel—as if I had connected with an unfinished story, or rediscovered a path that I'd lost long ago.

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