Friday, December 19, 2008

Remember Who You Are?

Weh! Weh weh weh. Tsk tsk! Hmmph!

I am helpless in the face of my condition. Like a sneeze or paralysis, the condition of the heart just occurs - and I have no control over it.

Thank God!

My heart tells me what to write, what not to write. Who to speak with, who to be silent with. When. What moment. "Yes now," it says, "end this." Then it says, "Go ahead, and do as I suggest." The voice of the heart is quite distinct from the mind's. It has none of that cold, mechanical quality of the mind. The heart has a voice that is intuitive, tender, and loving to the other. It is the voice that broods when we are nasty to others. It does not tell the difference between one and the other.

And so as it is, my heart demands complete seclusion. Well, almost complete. And I have no control over it. I just witness how the whole scheme unfurls; thankfully, I am able to get over my feelings of redundancy.

But I am rambling! I had to tell this: once again, I was perusing through the beautiful book Women of Sufism and reading a passage about Michaela Ozelsel's khalwa (Sufi retreat) experience.

It is a passage taken from her diary, kept during a traditional 40-day khalwa in Istanbul. Therein she speaks of her experiences, raw and evolving with time. She spoke of the trembling - that, in the words of Rumi, an essential trembling - of a lover. Except that she did not use the word "lover," but I shall use it to refer to a seeker.

She writes of how she cried - how she overcame her self's complaints by expressing exaggerated gratitude - and then... she writes of zikr!

Zikr! Remembrance of the Lord! That in which hearts find true satisfaction!

And then I could read no more. I closed the book and realized, "Oh dear God! Quite despite myself, I am not only experiencing solitude, I am also enjoying it! I feel love and I feel connection. And I feel I want to give, I have no expectations, indeed I do not want anything from anyone. My soul is laughing! And yet, suddenly, there is something that I miss!"

Could it be....? But of course! How I have brought myself to see my life as a story being written. I am so comfortable with it. I flow with the words. I am the story, indeed. My teacher says, "Events are God's vocabulary, and Time is God's grammar." I must be the story!

The key is to achieve a state of such stability in the heart that we see the design of this story as benevolent. Begin in the name, the word, that is All Merciful, Compassionate. Then begins the story, I.

What a state of ecstasy that put me in! I wondered - wow - how could I not see that this seclusion, too, is written by the One Hand That writes it all. Why would the Hand write this? And why would then this reading of this particular book that I had been unable to read for the past few months come into my story - now?

It is all so visible. Seclusion. Almost exactly after a year of when I undertook my own khalwa. A return, a remembrance. I have been woefully forgetful of my practices. And yet my heart has been delving into zikr spontaneously these past few days. I am here. I am exactly where I a supposed to be. Secluded, with a choice to remember.

I remember through my writing, and I remember through the chants. The task is clear, though: remember, remember!

And my heart whispered, right this moment, "Remember who you are?"

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