of Sufism is a quarterly column with inspirational words of wisdom
from the Executive Editor of Sufism: An Inquiry, Seyedeh
Dr. Nahid Angha.
From Vol. 8, No. 3
and Universal Harmony
From Vol. 9, No. 1
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Vol. 8, No. 2
we hear or think of meditation, we commonly imagine a practice where
one sits in a quiet place in a peaceful state of mind. The goals
of meditation that come immediately are likewise very general: to
free one's self from the heavy burden of everyday living; to get
in touch with one's true self, whatever that may be. This common
understanding of meditation embraces, of course, many different
practices. Such a process, which has been a dominant characteristic
of a major part of spiritual practices today, is indeed a positive
practice, but is not what Sufism has in mind.
Sufism, the law of meditation follows the essential rule of self
discovery, and that is when a seeker is attracted and attuned towards
the Divine, Allah, all of his or her meditative energies are concentrated
and focused towards Allah. One will find peacefulness and freedom
in Sufism meditation, but this is not its only goal. Instead, the
goal is to gain the knowledge that enables one to understand Allah,
the Divine, the All Knowing, All Embracing, Merciful and Compassionate.
Meditation in Sufism involves several steps; one must collect his
or her energies from the outside world and gradually learn to focus
them in the center of the heart. To find this point in the heart
is essential as not many are aware of the existence of this center,
and not any point in the heart will take one to this favorable destination.
This is the point where heaven and earth, body and soul meet, and
the material transforms into the spiritual. Sufi meditation is directed
towards the heart since the heart is the center and the seat of
love and divine inspiration, and the heart does not falsify that
which it sees.
all are different, and so we have different attractions towards
different directions of the outside world. There are many waves
that connect us to the outer world surrounding us, that allow communication
between the individual and the outer world. We are attracted and
busy with our work, our daily routines, our families, and our immediate
environment. In these interactions, we receive energies, we exchange
energies, and thus we also lose energies. Through our constant interaction
with the celestial waves around us, the rays of the sun, the electromagnetic
waves of the galaxies, and more, we are part of a continuity, always
exchanging energy and information.
Sufi meditation, a seeker will learn how to take hold of his or
her energies from all these lines of communication and collect them
from the outside to direct them to the center of the heart. This
process is truly an esoteric one, and, as such, is not open to the
marketplace of religion; and for good reason, it was never meant
for public appeal. Sufis have guarded all these steps, keeping them
hidden from the hands of others who would inevitably misuse them.
So, you, as a seeker, must be careful. If you seek the way of Sufism,
you must be especially careful that what you are seeking is indeed
Sufism, and not something that merely claims the name of Sufism.
we grow into adulthood we also grow more and more intimately acquainted
with the outside world, to the point that the outside world becomes
more familiar to us than our own being. Many chains of attractions
pull us in different directions, leaving us with the sense of being
torn apart. We become less and less aware of ourselves, of our own
Sufi Meditation, the first step that one takes is to become acquainted
with and aware of one's self, of the being within. Without finding
that central point within yourself, you will not be able to become
a center to receive, and there can be no substitute for the actuality
of the center of one's being. Yet, this is not enough. Becoming
a center to receive does not suffice for the pursuit of the understanding
of Sufism, for a Sufi does not seek to become a center open to receiving
everything. Instead, through discipline the Sufi seeks attunement
for receiving selected waves; in this case, spiritual or Divine
energy. I usually give a simple exercise so seekers may see
they are as familiar with their own being, even their physical beings,
as they are with the outside world, of other beings and things.
I ask them to close their eyes for a moment to try to see their
own faces as accurately as they can. Many find it hard to see their
own faces as they are, no matter how often they have looked in the
mirror to reassure themselves of their existence. Of course, we
cannot seeour own face, only mirrored reflections. In this practice,
it usually takes us a while before we are able to see our own faces.
It takes a little longer for some of us, and many are simply unable
to see themselves this way,
a mental image of what is so seemingly familiar. We learn that we
are not as familiar with our own beings as we thought we were, and
also that it may take us a while to gather our energy and become
concentrated and focused, even upon the familiar.
your energy is essential to spiritual practice but is not always
easy. Only a Teacher can guide you towards such a simple yet impossible
the practice of Sufism, you should be able to concentrate your energies
and try to be present at heart, as the Prophet (swa) said: your
Salat, your Prayer, requires your presence in your heart. Being
present in your heart is the first step of meditation, collecting
your own energy from without and concentrating it within.
in meditation you learn how to take back your energies from the
outside, and collect and concentrate them towards a point in your
heart. And you must remember nothing is fruitful unless guided by
a teacher, and not just any kind of teacher. The next step of meditation
or the second level is a journey from the self to the inner heart.
This journey or level of meditation begins from your self, or your
physical being, and is directed towards your inner self. In other
words, you collect and gather your energies from the outer self,
towards your being, and then direct your concentrated energy direct
them towards your heart. It is there where you will be able to witness
Divine inspiration, as stated in the Qur'an: the heart does not
falsify that which it sees.
step is easier, for concentrating in your heart and directing your
energies towards the center of your heart is easier than reclaiming
and collecting your energies from the outside world into which they
have been dispersed. Many spiritual seekers may stop at the first
level, the step of gathering from outside their own energies. Others
may get halfway, gathering their energies from one place but then
redirecting them outwards toward some other, external locus.
has levels and stages. One needs a guide to be able to take the
steps of meditation. The potentiality, desires, demands, and attractions
of a seeker will determine the teacher that he or she will find
along the way. As like attracts like, and the birds of the same
feathers fly together, you will find your own guide. If your guide
will not take you to a spiritual and divine destination, then you
may need to undertake purification; to purify your desires and demands.
you are searching for Divinity, remember that the Divine inspiration
and revelation will ascend to the heart of the most pure; as the
Qur'an reads: the Book guides the pure ones. You must take the step
toward your own being; searching within the external world will
not take you to any understanding of the Divine, but instead will
take you to the marketplace of religion and to its participants.
relying on meditation, you need to always remember the goal of such
meditation. Relaxation is a different goal than Divine inspiration.
The latter requires a different intention, a readiness, devotion,
on Allah, as ultimately it is the Divine who guides one towards