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Weekly Contemplations W2

Week 2 – Rule 2

Rule 2
The path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs (false ego) with your heart. Knowing your false ego will lead you to the Knowledge of God.

This week, as we are contemplating on Rule2, we will will aslo be asking ourselves the following questions:

What is my false ego ( my nafs) like? or Who is I am NOT?

In what way does this knowledge help me move closer to the Knowing of God.

As you ask these questions please try to follow the advise in Rule2 and feel what you Heart is telling you instead of your mind. It is not that the mind is the enemy, it does serve an important purpose: managing ourselves in the world. However, when it comes to Loving, the Divine, the knowing of God and our Divine Essence, the mind is useless. It is only the Heart that can lead us out of the entanglements of the fearful ego to the green pastures of the Divine Knowledge.

If you are interested, please read more about the inspiration that resulted in me walking this 40-week journey with Rumi and Shamz HERE (CLICK)

Week 1

Rule 1
How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame,
it means there is too much fear and blames welled inside us. If we see God as full of Love and compassion, so are we.

Ok,so … The first week has been a disaster. I am actually laughing at my self. Why is it that we make these ‘commitments’ so serious that every inch of my body is incomplete resistance as a result of it!

Nevertheless, I have contemplated … What is God like for me?

I have asked myself the questions below, and came up with the following …

How do I see myself in the world?

How do I see the world around me?

How do I experience my immediate environment?

How do all this reflect the way I see God?

I am in a ‘split-state-of-mind’ so to speak. There is a part of me who knows and feels that God is the source of Good: beauty, creativity, kindness, smiles, and more. When I meditate, I sit in the silence and after a while – after my mental craze has subsided – I start feeling the presence of Good; the Loving Kindness, the Care and Love that is available for me (as long as I reach into it).

At the same time, God is also a negligent parent for me. I am angry with God and I am angry with myself. I look around myself and I also see havoc and mayhem. Ignorant people running the show and I feel victimized. I feel helpless. I need God to sort this out and make it right. I need ‘him’ to make this pain and anquish to go away.

But God, the God that resides in the silence does not descends and sorts things out. This God, is not the God. This God is a creation of the phantasies of a young child who was neglected and uncared for. A child’s plea for help who had grown up too fast and became resentful and demanding as a result.

The God I often see as myself is harsh and unforgiving. L:uckily, I am also aware of the God who lives in the silence; the Loving and Caring God who walks with me, cares for me, hugs me when I sleep; who appreciates me even when I hate ‘Him’.

Weekly Contemplations W1

Week 1 – Rule 1

40 Rules of Love – My 40 week journey of LOVE.

As I was looking for some material for contemplation during the Christian Season Epiphany that lasts until the 1st March this year I ran into a book called 40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafak (find the book here).

At first, I thought that Shams Tabrizi wrote a book – which is very unlikely – and started to look for his ‘rulebook on Love’. Since he was a rather particular Sufi mystic, I thought,  that he might have left some notes behind. Well, nothing like that. The book – see above – is a fictional story that does, however, include 40 rules on spiritual Love that were supposedly filtered out from different quotes and writings that is now credited to Shams. 

Who was Shamz Tabrizi? He was a 13th century mystic, Rumi’s teacher and companion. READ this beautiful summary on Shams life and his impact on Rumi.  HERE (CLICK)

I have not read the book yet. But I will as part of my 40 week journey on LOVE. I love these so-called ‘rules’. They are thoughtful and deep. It reminded me how much we are glued to the phantasy land of rom-coms that tell nothing about the Truth of Love. They do not make it real or even believable. But there is a kind of Love that is beyond warm and fuzzy emotions and fantasies, a Love that Rumi and Shams wrote so beautifully about. We spend countless hours trying to find our soul-mate in another person and we fail to see that the Love we are so desperately searching for is right there within us. It has always been there, all the time. Personally, I think it is important to find the true meaning behind the word ‘LOVE’,  understand it and experience it as a spiritual quality.

So, as a result, I decided to find my own meaning and experiment with Sham’s LOVE. Every week, from the second week of January, I will contemplate or meditate  – and I kindly invite you to do the same – on one of the ‘rules’ of love that is credited to Shams. Find the first one below. I would be happy if you shared your finding with me!

Rule 1
How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame,
it means there is too much fear and blames welled inside us. If we see God as full of Love and compassion, so are we.

The questions that I am going to ask myself this week – and you are welcome to do the same – are:

How do I see myself in the world?

How do I see the world around me?

How do I experience my immediate environment?

How do all this reflect the way I see God?

My Path to God by Shams Tabrizi (CLICK)

Epiphany

I choose to live my life as a loving, harmonious, delight-filled experience

Epiphany means “manifestation of the Divine,” and I am a unique, valued expression of the Divine as I walk in the world. Today I celebrate life around me and as me. … I accept the gifts life offers me. My mind and heart are receptive to the blessings of abiding peace, abundant prosperity, unconditional love, glowing health, and unlimited creativity.

Today I let my light shine brilliantly. I anticipate and welcome
opportunities to give and to be a blessing. As I expect and look for the
best in others, I become even more aware of the spark, the light of the
Divine, reflecting from them. SOURCE

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

Day 12 + The Twelfth Night + Epiphany

The twelfth symbol is Twelve drummers drumming

12 Days of Christmas

How it all started? In 2019 I decided to look for meaning in the symbolisms of this well-known song. In this post (click) you can read about my journey and how it all started. 🙂

Twelve drummers drumming
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree

The twelfth day

On the first day, we receive twelve drummers drumming. Another joyful day of celebration and welcoming.

According to my research – By the Middle Ages the drum, which was probably introduced to Europe from the Middle East by knights returning from the Crusades, had become a common instrument.

Among the drum’s other uses was to combine it with the trumpet to get people’s attention when making a big announcement such as the arrival of the king or the reading of an important proclamation. In this case the drum was used to announce the serving of the next course of the feast. Source

After the day of Epiphany, the party season starts through the season of Mardi Gras up until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season.

The Twelve Drummers – similar to the 11 pipers (read more here) can be perceived as the ‘announcers’ of a new era starting with the Holy Spirit, descends upon and enlightening the seekers. They  sure that we are awake and ready to perceive the gifts that are offer to us during the Twelfth Night. Read more about the Twelfth night

The Twelfth Night

After the last day of the 12-day-of-Christmas, Christians observe Epiphany or enlightenment when the Holy Spirit descend upon and enlightens the ‘faithful’ with wisdom and revelations of Christ’s teachings. The 12 days of Christmas is the bridge between Christmas Day and the day of Epiphany. On Christmas day, ‘my true love’ aka God gives me my first gift of Christ, the promise of enlightenment, atonement and eternal life. By the time we walked the bride of the 12-day across, we have collected and regained certain qualities that we must possess in order to observe the revelations and receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Epiphany.

I also found that investigating the symbolism of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ song can help us uncover what it is that we can do to support ourselves. Following the guidance of the song we can become empty  and  open to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Epiphany is what we labour towards during the nights and days of the 12-Days-of-Christmas.

Below is the result of some of my research:
“It all goes back to the early 4th century Christian church, which believed that January 6 (Epiphany) is the date that Christ was baptized, representing the birth of Jesus’ soul. This was more important than December 25th to them, regardless of the Winter Solstice at the time. It took a few hundred years; but, by the 6th century, the Christian emperor, Justinian, proclaimed Christmas as a public holiday, with 8 days of feasting. Then, by the 9th century, King Alfred of England increased the celebration from 8 days to 12 days. He declared December 25th – January 6th, with the twelfth day falling on January 6. Note: This means the actual night would be the day before on January 5. Confusing, I know.

One tradition for some on Twelfth Night is to go around wassailing fruit trees as a kind of fertility rite. Exactly how this is done had varied from century to century. But, in the 18th century (when the song was created) wassailing was done by pouring cider, honey, spices and pulp from a burst baked apple (all mixed in a bowl) around the trees. The term “Wassail” is taken from the waes hael meaning “be whole” (aka be in good health).

Another folklore claims that a young maiden was suppose to walk backwards around a pear tree three times on Christmas morning. Then she gazes into the branches. She should see the image of her future husband.”
Source

During Epiphany, we celebrate both the three kings’ (or three wise men’s) visit shortly after his birth and also Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. According to the Story, three Magi arrives to the crib bringing gifts to the new born. In the sacrament of Baptism, Jesus receives the Holy Spirit.

I think that the Twelfth Night marks the reception of the Holy Spirit. During the time of the 12-days-Christmas, those who follow the holy order laid down by many masters,  Jesus Christ being one of them,  make themselves ready to receive God’s ultimate gift. During the 12th night and the next day, the Holy Spirit descends on the faithful seeker and fills him/her with the Light and Sound of the Holy Spirit. The seeker unites with God’s Essence and becomes whole again.

I have a different read on the fertility and sexuality symbolism in the Twelve Days of Christmas, suggested above. Unity with God is often called ‘penetration’ and occasionally appears as an act of sexuality in our limited minds. Being united with God may appear to be an act of intercourse  and for that one must be fertile or empty in order to receive God, similar to the way a woman receives a man.

In order for the Holy Spirit to fill the faithful seeker on the Twelfth Night, the seeker must have achieved a state of emptiness and receptiveness. What we do (did) during the Twelfth Days of Christmas to empty and prepare ourselves to be able to receive the Holy Spirit.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three wise men – named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – followed the star of Bethlehem across the desert to meet the baby Jesus, offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gifts were symbolic of the importance of Jesus’ birth, the gold representing his royal standing; frankincense his divine birth; and myrrh his mortality. Source

In my understanding, the three kings represent the three levels of consciousness we humans live with. They are called many names such as conscious, subconscious and unconscious. They all bring a present that may also be interpreted in many different ways. The important message for me in the story of the three Magi is their long journey and arrival to the birth of Jesus.  I see our human consciousnesses arriving to the teacher, bringing presents that show our devotion and submission to the order that Jesus later lay down for all seeker.

 

ZEAL

We are in the middle of the festive season of 9 ladies dancing, 10 lords a-leaping, 11 pipers piping, 12 drummers drumming so I found it amusing to see that today’s Advent reading from Unity.org is about Zeal, one of the 12 powers that humans possess according to Charles Fillmore, founder of Unity. These 12 Powers are there to guide us and support us on our journey to reconnect with our Divine Essence.

Click on the picture for more info on the 12 Powers

Audio version of the text below

I am a beloved child of God, shining with the brilliance of the
Universe. This is expressed as optimism, abundance, and enthusiasm in
my day-to-day living.

If I feel less than enthusiastic or energetic in any area of my life, zeal is
an ever-present energy that I may call upon. It ignites my dreams and
fuels my life. It fills me from the inside out. As I enthusiastically express
the Spirit within me, I bubble over with joy!

I do what I love, and I love what I do. I am vibrantly healthy. I am alive,
awake, alert, and enthusiastic about life.

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good
works and give glory to your Father in heaven.—Matthew 5:16


My zeal shines from me, lighting my way forward
and brightening our world. I glow!

Source – Unity.org

Day 11

The eleventh symbol is 11 Pipers Piping

According to The Newman Center at Keene State College, the “eleven pipers piping” represent the 11 faithful disciples, excluding Judas Iscariot. These disciples gave up everything in order to follow Christ. These men were commoners — such as farmers and fishermen — and not wealthy and influential. Jesus spent time teaching them to carry on his work, according to Crosswalk.com. The disciples are Peter, James, John, Andrew, Bartholomew (Nathanael), James the lesser, Judas Iscariot, Judas (Thaddeus), Matthew (Levi), Philip, Simon the Zealot, and Thomas. SOURCE

I am rather hesitant to believe that the 11 Pipers symbolize 11 disciples instead of the twelve because we are still upset with poor Judas.

Luckily, we are still in a festive mood! 🙂 So, let’s find a more jovial meaning to these lovely pipers.

According to numerology experts, Number 11 is the Master number that is related to Karma. This number is also a symbol of spiritual awakening. If this number keeps appearing very often by your side, … it means that you should turn more to your spiritual life. You have your life purpose on this planet and you need to serve to others. Master number 11 is also called Teacher, which means that it can teach you lessons that are very important for your life. SOURCE

I am not very much a numerology fun but I can see how eleven pipers skirling a waking tune herald an opening in consciousness. Many spiritual teachers talk about ‘awakening’ as if it was some kind of rousing from a sleeping state. These lovely pipers are sent to wake us and keep as awake to the visit of the Holy Spirit. Epiphany can only happen to those who are awake and alert to the indwelling Spirit and God’s ever guiding presence. (God= Divine Essence, Spirit, etc.)

In order to keep you in a festive mood …

Day 10

The tenth symbol is 10 Lords A-leaping.

The “ten lords a-leaping” represent the 10 Commandments, according to Christianity.com. According to Bible Info, they are the following: 1.”You shall have no other gods before me”; 2.”You shall make no idols”; 3.”You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”; 4.”Keep the Sabbath day holy”; 5.”Honor your father and your mother”; 6.”You shall not murder”;7. “You shall not commit adultery”; 8.”You shall not steal”; 9.”You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”; and 10.”You shall not covet.” SOURCE

Audio version of the text below

Let’s imagine for a moment that these commandments were offered to ensure that you can live a ‘holy’ life. By holy life I mean that you live a life in search of and in connection with your God’s Essence. Our God-Essence (or Presence) is of Pure Loving that is neutral and has no care for the world. The world changes constantly bringing a change of ‘fortunes’ with it; ups and downs in constant succession. In God’s world – in Heaven – Love, Peace, and Joy is constant. We can choose to live a life that is about the world or we can chose a life that brings us closer to unity with our God’s Essence. The Ten Commandments intent to guide the latter.

The first three Commandments are more or less the same for me. It conveys the message of choosing a ‘holy’ life in which you make your God Essence a priority. These Commandments ask you to withdraw your attention from the world and turn it within in search of connecting with your God-Essence (or Presence) all the time, not allowing any ‘idols’ like money or fame to misguide you and drive you off the Path.

All the other Commandments are about ‘sin’. The meaning of Sin which is so beautifully explained in the story of Adam and Eve is actually a ‘turning away from God’. If you manage to keep the first three Commandments, you would not need to care much about the other seven! You will keep them by default. 🙂 These Commandments are there as a fence to ensure that you do not fall ofF the Path when you cannot keep the first three Commandments.

Day 9

The nineth symbol is Nine ladies dancing

From Day 9 onwards, we are having FUN. First nine lading dancing appear to herald joyous time ahead.

According to my research – The “nine ladies dancing” represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, according to The Newman Center at Keene State College. Featured in Galatians 5:22-23, the nine fruits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Christians, under the guise of the Holy Spirit, will exhibit these types of virtues. Love refers to the love of God and your neighbor, which is unconditional and without the expectation of anything in return, according to The Catholic Spirit. You achieve joy by relationships with God and other people, and it encompasses truth, honesty, and integrity. Source

I think it is easy to see why these 9 qualities are the ones that contribute the most to becoming ‘holy’. By holy I mean that one becomes aware and perceptive to the presence of the Holy Spirit. As humans we are lost onto the world. We look for safety, love and shelter in the world where there is none. We are of Spirit. Our Home is with God. The Living presence of God, our Soul, years to return Home. In order to be able to do that, however, It must move beyond the limitations of the world and our human (ego) parts. The 9 virtues are those attainable qualities of person that support the Soul on Its journey Home. These qualities are of Spirit, too. As we clear our vision of the limitations of the world,  we open ourselves to the Living Spirit within. With that we not only support our own mortal and physical journey to be  smoothened out but we also support the Soul within to ascend and eventually – upon our physical death – to return home.

Shams intro

Who was Shams -al- Tabrizi?

Well, if you search the NET to find information on Shams you will be disappointed because there isn’t much information available on him neither is there a Wikipedia page on him. His entire existence is encapsulated in being once the teacher and companion of Rumi, the famous Sufi mystic and poet.

Below, you can read about him in terms of his relationship with Rumi.

There are many legends describing the meeting of Shams al Tabrizi  and Rumi in Konya.

Rumi’s meeting with Shams-al Tabrizi  turned him literally upside down , after the mystical shock he experienced in his first encounter with a man gifted with such extraordinary esoteric powers

Shams was the spark that ignited the fire of divine longing within Rumi, awakening the passion of the soul, such that Rumi said of his life “I burnt, and burnt and burnt.” His time with Shams transformed him, and the love that was awakened still speaks to us now, so many centuries later.

It is known that though Rumi attained an excellent and honourable position among his peers, there was within him a sense of disquiet, of unfulfillment, of incompleteness, a thirst, a craving, a yearning, a desperate longing  for the unknown domain of the Most High. He knew he could not do it alone. He was in need of a spiritual Guide who can guide him  .As a result, we read that when Rumi and Shams first met, they were so enthralled with each other that they spent several months secluded together in the prayer-retreat cell.

In this particular Sufi path, the disciple tends to cultivate a kind of love for the spiritual Master within the heart, visualizes the Master in the heart or crave to be in his presence frequently. This practice is said to lead to very deep mystical experiences.

Rumi seems indeed to have been in this type of “passing away in the spiritual presence of the Master (fana fil-shaykh). He wrote thousands of verses expressing his spiritual love for Shams in his Divan. It is also said that in this path that if this closeness with the spiritual master (Shaykh) continues for too long, it becomes a barrier to “annihilation in God” (fanâ fî ‘llâh)  And Shams suggested to Rumi that he might have to go away in order for him to progress further. After Shams disappeared permanently, and after Rumi recovered from his loss, it is said that Rumi found Shams in his own heart. And in his last years, Rumi composed thousands of couplets (The Mathnawi) in which he describes many unitive mystical experiences.

This is very much like “annihilation in God” after “annihilation in the Spiritual Guide.” The “death” of the ego is central to the mystical path, this “death” reveals the essential union of lover and Beloved.

It would be necessary to understand here that in Sufi poetry, the word “lover” means being “ a lover of God “and in Sufism the mystic seeker is considered as the lover and God as the Beloved.

Fana is ” annihilation “ The sufis say that you need a spiritual  guide on the mystical path. The guide or master is someone who is surrendered to God and is able to help the wayfarer make the transition from the ego to the Self. In surrendering to the teacher, fana fi Shaikh, the disciple learns to surrender to God.

Source – Facebook

If you want to learn more about Shams, there is a wonderful autobiographical book called Me and Rumi by Wiliam C. Chittick – see more here (click)