Yesterday, I started reading a memoir by Miss Irina Tweedie, called Daughter of fire. The author was a Sufi teacher, who wrote about her journey of God realisation, from the moment she met her teacher till her training ended. Her Guru told her to keep a journal to jot down her thoughts, as they would eventually take form of a book. Years later, her book was finally published and inspired thousands of people who are on the same quest.
The reason why I am mentioning this book, is because my Murshid (Sufi master) has also asked me to start writing regularly, as a cathartic exercise. No, he did not predict that I would later assemble them into a memoir, and chances are dim, anyway. He once told me, “you will not become a writer.” in an aggressive tone. It really struck me as he wanted me to pursue my dental career which I had quit a few years ago and wanted to become a writer. Well, I believe that you are either a writer or you are not. An artist cannot be created. It doesn’t matter if your work is published or not, what matters is that you speak your truth, in any expression that resonates with your soul.
I met my Murshid, when I was 13. My mother and I would attend meditation sessions at a lady’s house, where he would always be there. We would sit in a dark room, close our eyes, visualise blue light falling from the sky on top of our heads and entering our body, and chant “Ya Hayyi O Ya Qayyum.” These are two of the 99 names of Allah in Islam, that mean the eternal and self sufficient. The names are mentioned in the Holy Quran, which basically represent the attributes of God.
After the meditation would end, we would have qeema pulao (minced meat with rice) for dinner. At that time I had no idea who he was. To me, he was a Sufi teacher whom my mother revered and would often visit his clinic for counselling. Later, she got initiated into the Silsila (Tradition) of the Sufi group he belongs to. His father laid the foundation of the organisation by the blessings of his Murshid, Qalander Baba Auliya, who was a relative of Saint Tajuddin Baba of Nagpur. Their ancestory goes back to Imam Hasan Askari who was the son of Hazrat Ali, nephew of Prophet Muhammad. Many other Sufi traditions are also direct descendants of Prophet Muhammad.
For a couple of years, I kept going for meditation, on and off, but later, got busy with my life and stopped going. My mother always told me that the lights I see in my meditation is God and my inner voice is God talking to me. As a naive child, I believed her, little did I know, that my mother was more oblivious than I was. But I knew where she was coming from and believed that one can see and talk to God. At least, knowing that it is possible gave me hope that I may have a chance of meeting my Creator. Deep down I always wanted to know Him.
As time went by, I got busy with teenage life, hanging out with friends, playing video games, falling for girls, etc. I would meet my Murshid, once in a blue moon at some event but at that time I was not conscious of who he truly is. Sometimes I would go to him for counselling, but the thought of becoming his disciple never crossed my mind.
In my early 20s, my interest in spirtuality developed and I started reading relevant books. Deep down there was a desire to have a teacher, who understands me and leads me to God. Sometimes, what is right in front is what we tend to over look. I had already met my master, but never thought I need to see him.
At 27, I finally asked him if I can become his student. He happily agreed and I started visiting him regularly until he asked me to pursue my dental career. He told me that either I should serve humanity by continuing my dental practice or please my mother. It was like choosing between jumping off a cliff or setting myself on fire. Of course, I could tell that he really respected my mother and compared taking her with humanity. I had once asked him, “how can I attain God” and he replied, “Service”.
I was learning about my lack of earnestness, as my spiritual fantasies were bring tarnished. I was now facing my inner demons and escaping from the spiritual training. I slowly became aware of my idiosyncrasies. My mind shifted towards other spiritual ideologies and I started, as Gandhi would call it, “my experiments with Truth"
I experienced deep states of bliss for a few months but then I finally crashed. My conscience told me that it was because I followed methods that were not given to me by my teacher. It is extremely risky to walk this path without a guru as one will most likely be mislead or become corrupted. Prophets and Saints were also contacted by Angels and were extremely obedient and devoted, unlike pseudo spiritual we see nowadays who are looking for a legal drug that can give them a never ending orgasm.
Spirituality is like sitting naked on a frying pan and not complaining about it. This is the reason why very few spiritual aspirants make it on this journey, as it requires you to surrender to your guru. One is truly lucky if they find a true master. What is most important is to have faith. My teacher keeps emphasising on the word, “compliance", which makes me uneasy, as I am quite proud of being a non conformist. Trust me, it is not easy letting go of your identity.
I know I am talking big and criticising people, acting snobbish, but I am also admitting that every day I am learning how I have not worked on my character, which is the foundation of any sufi tradition. You need to build an ark, so that you sail across the Ocean with Grace, when the storm approaches. If walking this path was as easy as talking about it, I would surely he enlightened by now.
I truly hope that I can recover from this block that I am going through and surrender to my Murshid, as he is the only person who can help me realise God.