Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Rule 9: The Gifts of Patience

Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process.  What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so short-sighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lover’s of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.

Impatience arises as soon as time becomes a scarce good. Time becomes a scarce good, when societies move away from the rhythms of nature. In nature, there is time for everything for all that is needed. Nature is neither patient nor impatient. It is only the human mind which imposes a time scheme on top of all that happens so everything becomes measurable. All which is measured is presented in numbers. Numbers are totally unnatural, this is why we call them digital. Numbers constantly run on without goal or end. After each number there is another one. We never arrive, we are never done, we always have to move on. This is the source of impatience.

The domination of time is in reality the dominance of time. The human mind has invented a scheme by which we enslave ourselves. One look at the watch, and our bodies are in a state of alarm. Impatience is a form of self imposed stress directed by a must, by a pressure which forces us on pain of consequences.

It is as if our bodies would signal constantly: Nu rush, everything with ease. But our neurotic minds force our bodies up to the point that it considers stress as normal. Without stress, nothing would work and boredom would break out.

When we are under pressure and stress, we become short-sighted (some people notice that literally with their eyesight), we only see things in front of our noses. Our vision narrows and we cannot recognise what is beyond. From the polyvagal theory we know that also our hearing is narrowed, so we only hear deeper frequencies below the human communication channels. So in stress we overhear what is important for us.

The materialistic consciousness causes the institutionalisation of impatience. Any minute is precious, any lost minute is a loss, presented in numbers. Every minute has to be filled up; when one moment stays empty, fear of having missed something arises. Those who are impatient are successful, those who are patient miss history.

Often patience is mistaken for agonising. Someone who is patient is someone who lets everything happen without actively interfering. Thus, as person like that gets easily overrun by the events. We hardly can imagine that something which goes slow or someone who is waiting and waiting could make sense. This is how strongly we are kept under the heels of the materialistic boosters who tell constantly what chances we could miss as soon as we start to relax.

But someone who is really patient harbours trust in self development and self organisation in everything which of importance. He is tuned in to the processes in nature which is managing everything according to an inner timing. He is perfect in disengaging from the coercive mechanisms of the collective lunacy. Instead of staring at his watch, he observes the birds on the trees which do not sow and reap and yet are nourished by their heavenly father.

„All of importance happens by itself“ is one of the wisdoms of the patient person. She has so often experienced that hectic activity can destroy more than deliberate waiting for the right moment and the right action. Or that waiting has lead to seeing that the problem has been resolved to nothing by itself. When we relax while waiting and enjoy the gap in time instead of becoming nervous, we can be gifted by an ample horizon in which surprises and miracles appear out of nowhere.

The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Rule 8: the Gifts of Despair

Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things may seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful!  It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what she/he has been given, but also for what she/he has been denied.

Despair, the dark night of the soul is a state of being in which all bridges to the outside world seem to be broken, only an inside world without light is left. To stay aware in this darkness of despair is the most difficult exercise and examination on the inner way. When it is possible to keep up a sense of presence in the face of utter forlornness and not to run away, the ego has lost all of its power. This is the very role of despair – it offers a ruthless touchstone for the seeker as to how far she is willing to surrender to what existence has prepared. As long as she fights what comes up by looking for someone to blame or to curse or to drown in dull resignation she has not seen the present offered by reality. Yet if existence shows its graceful side by offering the strength of perseverance, the transition to a new level of consciousness is close.

Gratitude should be our permanent and daily practise. How easily we forget that everything is just a gift, that we are all gifted with what lets us live, starting from the simplest breath for which air and energy are offered. When we are willing to cultivate this attitude of gratefulness, we will succeed to accept the bulkier experiences in our lives with more ease. For we know how much life is caring for us und which jewels can be hidden amidst the most dreadful experiences.

The mystic has realised that everything which happens is a gift for which gratitude is required. He also has realised that anything which is given to us as benefit is impermanent. He understands that in those experiences which meet our tastes, which we like and enjoy and tend to indulge in, there is a possibility of abuse and of refusal: We tend to hold on to pleasant experiences until we miss the next experience which would open up another gift. So the mystic takes all small things as big and all big things as small.

The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination.

Rule 7: Loneliness and Solitude

Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without being lonely. But eventually it is best to find a person, that person will be your mirror. Remember, only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.

When we are alone and suffer from no one being here, we feel lonely. We feel a neediness inside of us which seems to say to us, that we are incomplete when there is no one else present. Being alone in the strict sense of the absence of other people can be a source of self discovery and inspiration. The German theologist Paul Tillich has written: “Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”

Eventually any kind of loneliness is an illusion, a drama produced by our body-mind. It comes up when the mind gains power over our consciousness. When we are not dominated by thinking, we do not even consider the idea that something could be missed. We can feel needs coming from our bodies but they disappear as soon as they are nourished. Thinking produces expectations and reproduces disappointments. This is the source of the nagging feeling of loneliness.

The specific pain which can arise in being alone stems from a situation of abandonment or neglect in our childhood. The younger a child is the more it is in need of the steady and reliable closeness of a grownup person. When this is missing, fears of existence can arise. In addition to this, that traumatizations can happen during pregnancy like not being wanted as a child or suffering from an attempted abortion. Also dramatic experiences in the life of the mother can severely affect the unborn child and leave a deep wound which gets activated after birth when close and loving contact is missing.

Being alone strengthens the connection to oneself and can be used as a recreation from abundant or strenuous social contacts. In being alone, we notice mor about ourselves, we feel what is right for us and which direction of our lives and our activities fit to who we are. It is easy to lose ourselves in the net of communication and become untrue to ourselves by meeting the needs and expectations of others.

Yet when we get uneasy and restless when being alone and when we suffer from the absence of people, we are caught in our patterns. Enforced by thoughts, we are directed by unresolved feelings from our past.

In a deeper sense we know: We are always in connection. Simply by breathing we are in a constant exchange with our surrounding, simply by looking around, we take in new impressions, simply by listening, sounds come in and change us. Maybe the singing birds are talking to us, maybe the blossoming tree tells us that it likes being looked at?

People living in a tribal consciousness did not need a word for loneliness as there is no reality fort hat. When someone was expelled from the tribe and so also from tribal consciousness, this meant radical solitude and was equalled with a death penalty. Only by collectively transcending the tribal connections, feelings of longing and loneliness arise. Today, as we are no longer depended on certain forms of social organisation for survival, being alone should not be an emotional burden, except, as said, when nourished by former harm.

The power and creativity which can be found in a deep encounter with another person, is an important reassurance of the connectedness which is there all the time. We can practise it for instance in exercises like eye contact breathing. Being seen by someone else is an important source of inner opening and can overwrite old experiences of abandonment and ignorance. Seeing another person can lead out of the limitations of the own personality and open towards a broader sense of humanity.

Still we have to be careful not to get lost in such an encounter as we tend to fall into the trap of loneliness as soon as this person leaves. Possibly we tend to idealise persons with whom we have such deep encounters and openings and get dependent on them. Then it can happen that we are easily disappointed when the same depth of communication does not work any more and that we accuse the other person for that. This means we get trapped in an unconscious dependency.

So a wide inner clarity, openness and maturity is needed for entering a relationship in which we are willing to acknowledge the divinity in the other person. We have entered the holistic or universalistic level of consciousness: We let go of all masks and strive towards the inner core of being which radiates unharmed beauty. In this pure core, there is no more essential difference between I and You.

The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Rule 6: Misunderstanding and silence

Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.
Humans are living in their own world of concepts and presume that others share their world which is rarely true or even possible. So communication is prone to misunderstandings. Especially when we are caught in our feelings we tend to use projections and think that others do not like us or do not understand us. We know from the way our mirror neurones work that we can only be empathic when we are relaxed.

As soon as we are tensed up and agitated, we are in the fight-flight mode. This is when we tend to misunderstand the words we hear or to hear words which have not been said or give the words we heard totally different meanings. So words are taken as an insult or attack, and we feel them as physical wounds although they are just words. We are deeply hurt and yet righteous about being so hurt that we think it is appropriate to take revenge at the next opportunity.

This is how the problems in the world are created, in the small and in the big world. And this is how they are kept alive and how they are deepened and programmed into our souls.

When we realize that our communications are highly at risk to failure and imprecision, we are well advised never to take words at face value. And we also should not take our interpretations at face value but as that what they are: assumptions about a possible meaning of what has been said.

Many if not all of the conflicts we get caught in result from such misunderstandings. So we should take good care so that we do not to start important talks when we are in stress. For when we are in high agitation, we speed up our talking, forget to listen and end up in screaming and simplified accusations. Bonds of love are torn down and communicative devastation is left.

Wittgenstein stated that "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." He defined “world” as “what the case is”, and that are the facts, everything which can be stated in an objective way and can be pictured in a clear way by means of language. The internal world or the communicative “world inbetween”, where we cannot find such clear and distinct descriptions. In these areas, there is a confusion of tongues which has to be cleared up until the language is freed from its distortions. After that, the problems of philosophy and metaphysics and probably as well the communicative problems in everyday life will be seen as pseudo problems and will disappear.

We can look for another way. As soon as we find our inner peace and silence, we are able to connect deeper with others. Words and their meanings become secondary. Instead, silence is the real answer to any question. Here we know from Wittgenstein: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

The rules are taken from Elif Shafak's novel “The Forty Rules of Love” (Viking 2010). They are inspired by the Sufi tradition and worded by the autor's imagination.