Saturday, February 16, 2019

Truly Nothing into Nothing (Part 3.)



“So Grandfather, are we to conclude from your story of the deer and the hunter that you experience Meher Baba’s words as the hunter’s arrows?”

“My dear, do you remember Upasani Maharaj’s description of the Jivatma (embodied soul) as, ‘that pure celestial soul identified with the projections of the mind.’?”

“Yes.”

“So as a way of answering your question, it is my jiv in the state of experiencing imagination as reality that experiences Baba’s words as arrows, while my atma simultaneously experiences Baba’s words to be like water is to a thirsty man or a raft to a drowning one.”

“That is your experience?”

“Yes, but only sometimes, and always more or less.”

“May I see the book?”

“Of course Ayushya.”

“I would enjoy discussing with both of you these words from Meher Baba regarding the consciousness of the sixth plane.

The Infinite Intelligence as sant, akmal, or pir creates the universe infinitely and knows and understands this. It feels that the universe has come forth from Itself and, moreover, feels the universe to be its own imagination or shadow. It realizes the universe for the benefit and salvation of others, to draw others from the low material plane to the higher spiritual planes. It does not take Self-realization and does not enter into Nirvikalp Samadhi, knowing that if It did so, It would not be able to come back to the planes, as the Sadguru does, but would become a Majub, unable to serve the world for its salvation.’”

“How beautiful! Yes Ayushya there is so much in this statement, where shall we begin?”

“The first thing, for me, is the statement that on the sixth plane, the highest and final plane before Realization, one is actually aware of oneself as the creator of the universe! To my knowledge, Baba has not revealed this fact before?”

“Indeed, I don’t recall seeing this in any of His other written teachings—Grandfather?”

“Nor I.”

“And Grandfather, does something strike you about Baba’s statement?”

“Yes, you know that in the various forms of Buddhism there is the Bodhisattva vow—where the practitioner dedicates his life and future lifetimes to working for the emancipation of all sentient beings from the grip of samsara.”
   
“Yes, Grandfather, I was thinking the same thing—that Baba’s words bring great clarity to the subject.”

“Of course not all who take this vow are on the sixth plane, I’m quite sure that most are not, but I believe the vow is rooted in the striving to be able to live such a life of service as does the real six-planer—the sant, akmal, or pir.

“Yes, and also that Baba reminds us that when the sant, akmal, or pir does enter into Nirvikalp Samadhi (Realization), he does not take another birth in creation—his connection to the planes is severed forever.”

“Except for those very few who take that next divine journey to become a Sadguru.”

“Indeed!”

(To be continued.)  





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Saturday, February 02, 2019

Truly Nothing into Nothing (Part 2.)


“You were talking about the Nothing and the Everything?”

“Yes Grandfather, we were considering Meher Baba’s words in the book Infinite Intelligence—in this context, that the Nothing resides in the Everything.”

“The Nothing resides in the Everything—that is very interesting.”

“Exactly, that is exactly what we were talking about. Ayushya was saying that the way in which Baba put it, it suggests the impermanence of illusion with regard to Reality.”

“Will you be so kind as to re-read Baba’s words?”

“Of course:

 “‘The universe is nothing but darkness residing in Light; nothing but imagination residing in Intelligence; nothing but ignorance residing in knowledge; nothing but the Nothing residing in the Everything; nothing but the utmost finitude residing in the Infinite; nothing but the shadow residing in the Paramatma. Itself most finite, the universe resides as a drop in the infinite Ocean of Paramatma.’”

“Grandfather, what were you thinking when you had your eyes closed just now?”

“I was remembering that in the ghazal I was reading the deer first approached the hiding place of the hunter and called out; ‘Why are shooting at me? I am your friend.’ But as time went on and the hunter, still hidden, continued to shoot arrow into the deer, the deer called out again; “You continue to shoot your arrows at me, yet refuse to show yourself to me. Over time, you and your arrows have taken everything from me. I have no life anymore; I have no desire for anything of this world or the next; all I have are these wounds. So, I implore you, either show yourself to me, or continue to shoot your arrows, because it has come to pass that in each wound I see the image of your face and long for you more and more and still yet more!’ That is was I was thinking Mera.”

“The beauty of that ghazal is beyond all words, but why Grandfather, did Baba’s words inspire that ghazal in you just then?”

“Because, my dear, Baba’s words are those arrows he sends to us to remind us to remember him until the time determined by him to reveal himself to us as our own most-beloved Self.”

(To be continued.)

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Truly Nothing into Nothing (Part 1.)



“Thank you for coming Ayushya; it seems like a long time since we’ve last talked.”

“Yes Mera, a long time, and at the same time, no time at all.”

“Indeed, my dear friend, indeed.”

“The tea is wonderful and your garden, as always, is beautiful.”

“Grandfather has such an attentive eye; he attends to all the details.”

“And will he be joining us today Mera?”

“Possibly later; he has a few things to do today, but you know he always welcomes the opportunity to sit with you.”

“And I enjoy being in his company as well. So, in your note you mentioned you had been pondering something?”

“Yes Ayushya, I have been re-reading the Meher Baba book, Infinite Intelligence, and on page 73 there is a statement—may I read it to you?”

“Of course.”

“‘The universe is nothing but darkness residing in Light; nothing but imagination residing in Intelligence; nothing but ignorance residing in knowledge; nothing but the Nothing residing in the Everything; nothing but the utmost finitude residing in the Infinite; nothing but the shadow residing in the Paramatma. Itself most finite, the universe resides as a drop in the infinite Ocean of Paramatma.’”

“I have read this statement a number of times myself and find it quite remarkable also; what strikes you about it Mera?”

“I’m sure that the most remarkable thing for me, and this applies to all of Meher Baba’s statements as well, is that they emanate from Baba’s own direct experience.”

“Words that proceed from the Source of Truth have real meaning…”

“Yes, exactly Ayushya, and I think also that Baba’s constant reminder that, as Hafez said, ‘The universe and all its affairs are truly nothing into nothing.’”

“The words of Hafez, another fully God Realized soul, proceed from the Source of Truth.”

“Exactly.”

“Something that affects me deeply in Baba’s statement, and I wonder if it does you as well Mera, is the way he uses the word resides? ‘…darkness residing in Light… imagination residing in Intelligence… nothing but ignorance residing in knowledge…’”

“Yes, at first I even wondered if, perhaps, Baba could have said, light residing in darkness… intelligence residing in imagination.., etc.”

“That would be something quite different indeed!”

“I agree, but please don’t ask me to explain it! And what about you Ayushya, do you have some thoughts about it?”

“Yes Mera, I have thoughts and thoughts and thoughts—about everything!

“And I’m glad you do, as I find your thoughts to be unique and inspiring!”

“Thank you Mera, you’re too kind!”

“More tea Ayushya?”

Yes please.”

“So regarding Baba’s statement; the word residing also captures my attention because it implies impermanence—impermanence of the universe, of imagination, of ignorance, of the shadow…”

“Of everything our human consciousness takes as real and ever-lasting.”

“Exactly! It’s like my name, the name you and your grandfather suggested to me years ago, Ayushya—a period of time—a period of time defined not so much by what it is, but by the Reality that exists on either side of it—of the nothing residing in the Everything!”

“Ah Grandfather, I’m so happy to see you. Please have a seat and I’ll serve you some tea. I believe that the conversation has only just begun.”

(To be continued.)












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Saturday, January 05, 2019

The Story of Yussuf & Zuleika


The Story of Yussuf and Zuleika – by the Persian poet Jami (15th Century)  


“Grandfather, the evening is young, the moon and stars illume the sky, the air is perfumed with jasmine and rose—so let us remain in the garden a little longer and tell me please another story.”


“My dear, I can think of nothing more pleasing than to linger here with you and speak of love and wine. Do you know of the story of Yussuf and Zuleika?”


“It is a story I’ve heard told, but stories, even old, are new when told by you. Please, do tell me of the story of Yussuf and Zuleika.”


“My dear, the story begins with the dream of a beautiful princess—the princess Zuleika. In her dream she beheld a figure of such extraordinary beauty that she was overcome with love and desire. When she awoke she could think about nothing else but him. Her heart was restless and she prayed that night would fall quickly and he would come to her again in her dreams. The dream was repeated three times.”


“Zuleika, fairer than the flowers,
Lay tranced—for ’twas not sleep that stole her senses,
Through the nights’ still hours,
And raised new vision to her soul.
The heart unfettered, free to rove,
Turned towards the idol of her love.


“No:—for ’twas not sleep, ’twas motionless,
Unbroken thought, repressed in vain;
The shadow of the day’s distress,
A frenzy of remembered pain.


“But, ’midst those pangs, what rapture still;
The same dear form is ever there;
Those eyes the rays of Eden fill,
And odours of the blest distil,
From every curl of that bright hair.”


“I like this story, Grandfather, of the beautiful princess and her mysterious visions—please continue.”


“Yes my dear, and as they say, ‘When the apple is thrown into the air, it will turn a thousand times before it comes back down.’ So years passed until one day, as the lovely Zuleika was absorbed in her thoughts of her visionary lover, an offer of marriage was received from the adviser to the Pharaoh of Egypt. Convinced that he must be the one of her dreams, she immediately accepted the offer and departed to Egypt with a huge and splendid retinue. Of course, Zuleika could not wait to see her lover and counted the moments until he would meet her caravan and she would finally be able to see him.”


“O joy too great! O hour too blest! He comes—they hail him—now more near,
His eager courser’s feet I hear.
O heart! Be hushed within my breast,
Burst not with rapture! Can it be?
The idol of my life—divine, all radiant, clothed in mystery,
And loving me as I adore him,
As none dared ever love before,
Shall be—nay, is—even now, is mine.”  


“Hearing his horse’s footsteps approach, Zuleika peeps through the curtain of her litter, but is filled with unspeakable grief and dismay on seeing a totally different person from the lovely image of her dreams.”


“Oh my!”


“Not he! Not he! On whom for years my soul has dwelt with sacred truth;
For whom my life has passed in tears of longing,
And wasted was my bloom of youth;
For whom I breathed, and thought, and moved,
My own, my worshipped, my beloved!


“I hailed the night that I might gaze
Upon his star’s unconquered blaze:
The morn but rose that I might pray,

“Hope, wish, expect from day to day,
My sole existence was that thought,
And do I wake to know ’tis nought?
Vain tears, vain madness, vain endeavour,
Another blasts my sight forever!”


“Grandfather, the apple has begun to spin! Poor Zuleika, her heart is broken, what will become of her?”


“My dear, she hid her feeling from the world, at least at first, before love’s persistence eventually broke the walls and turned them into dust. Zuleika was brought to the palace and was placed on the throne.”


“A throne the Peris might have framed,
The sun and moon’s pale lustre shamed:
And she, whose radiance all effaced—Zuleika—on the throne was placed.


“Sparking with jewels, red with gold,
Her heart shrunk, withered, crushed, and cold.”


“Yes my dear, the apple had begun to spin—madly. Now let me tell you more of Yussuf, whose supernatural beauty was so great, that no woman could look on him without love. It is told, that when Yussuf first entered Zuleika’s chamber, all the women present were cutting pomegranates for their princess, but when Yussuf entered, they all became so lost to themselves that they began to cut their own fingers instead of the fruit.”


“And Grandfather, how did it come that Yussuf entered her chamber?”


“Yussuf’s life was governed by a fate not shared with common men—veiled in divine mystery; it had so many twists and turns. It is said, that Yussuf was always surrounded with a celestial light. And his beauty, my dear, was not, as they say, ‘merely skin deep,’ he was a good and kind man who, legend tells, gave the sufferers a portion of his own food, every day when the seven year famine held Egypt in her grip. And so it was dear Granddaughter that Yussuf was loved by many, but he was also feared by some who felt their power threatened, and that is why he was, one day, captured and sold into slavery—which is how he came to be in Zuleika’s chamber.”


“Oh my! Zuleika became his purchaser?”


“Yes, she recognized him instantly and wanted him near her always, but consider her plight—married to royalty, yet, in love with a slave—could she keep her secret?—and for how long?”


“Keep her secret from her husband?”


“Yes, her husband—but also Yussuf—for awhile.”


“And she told no one?”


“She told one person, her nurse, who in an impudent moment discloses Zuleika’s secret to Yussuf.”


“Grandfather, what did he do?”


“Why, my dear, he abandoned her—leaving her in an agony of despair and grief.”


“Is this a dream?—another dream,
Like that which stole my senses first,
Which sparkled o’er my life’s dull stream,
By erring fancy nursed?


“Was it for this my life I spent in murmurs deep,
And discontent—
Slighted, for in this, all homage due,
From generous faithful love withdrew?
For this, no joy, no pomp have prized;
For this, all honors have despised—
Left all my soul, to passion free,
To be thus hated—spurned—by thee?


“O God! to see thee loathing turn,
While on my cheek swift blushes burn;
Contempt, abhorrence on thy brow,
Where radiant sweetness dwelt—till now.”


“Grandfather, I am just a young girl, but it does seem to me that Yussuf’s actions were unbecoming.”


“My dear, neither youth, nor age, can understand the working of divine fate. But do remember the words of dear Hafez, ‘Praise be to God, for He never tries His slave in vain.’”


“So, my dear, the secret of her love revealed, Zuleika is cast out from her life of riches and becomes a hapless beggar in the street. Still, her love for Yussuf never wanes—her every thought is of him alone, his name speaks to her with her every breath. Years pass; she weeps ceaselessly; her tears turn to blood; Zuleika is blind.”


Zuleika’s Lament:


“Your picture in my heart will never go—though you are gone,
Your face is a lovely moon that my soul’s eye gazes on.
The cherished one abandoned me,
So I too forsook myself
And lost a throne, a king’s estate
And both health and wealth.


“When I was rejected and tried my best to neglect you,
This fire inside would never permit me to do so;
Do you know that you plundered a queen’s eyes, heart, and soul?
I wonder what befell the other hearts you stole.
I dreamed of loving you and all my calamities began;
Who would believe one so lovely could be so stone-hearted?



“The world that forgot me I forgot long ago,
You, my endless yearning, and your name are all I know.
Yussuf, now my heart cried out for you again and again,
Now, at last, I am finding you in my tears and pain.
Now the world can rightly say that Zuleika is ruined and blind,
Who can know how she beholds her beloved in her heart and mind?” Nordeen and Wagner, Meherabad 1979


“And Grandfather, does the story end here—with Zuleika in ruin? Oh, I hope not.”


“Do not worry my dear, for as the poet said,


‘Oh dust!
Did you really think that your journey was over when you found the feet of your Beloved?
You had become helpless and hopeless,
Worthless in every way,
But did you think He would allow you to remain in your pathetic state?
Did you think your Lord would breathe dust?’ – Kovitz, Meditation and Prayers on 101 Names of God


“No my dear, the story of Yussuf and Zuleika is not yet complete.”


“Years passed, dear Granddaughter, and Zuleika’s love for Yussuf grew more and more and became more and more pure. Blind, she saw only him, all the time. She lived not in the past, not in the future, but in the eternal moment of her love. She cared not that the only roof over her head was the firmament, the hard ground her only bed; she cared not whether she ate or did not eat, or if people looked at her with scorn or pity. She no longer was in the world or of the world.”


“And Yussuf, Grandfather; what became of Yussuf?”


“Ah Yussuf, his fortune turned; he was freed from prison—eventually he became the grand vizir of Egypt. He was loved by all, became the beloved of all who knew him—or, even heard of him.”


“And so dear Grandfather, does the story end here? You quoted the poet who said that the beloved would not breathe dust, would not allow his lover to remain dust.”


“Yes, my dear, he would not, nor did Yussuf. The story continues:

“One day Yussuf was out walking with a few of his close companions when they came upon a blind beggar woman at the side of the road. Seeing her, Yussuf turned to his companions and said, ‘look at that woman, do you know who she is?’ They all looked at each other and shook their heads. ‘That woman is Zuleika.’ he told them. ‘Do you not recognize her? Her love for me has led her to this state. She has wept tears of blood for me and become blind to everything but me.’

“Yussuf then walked over to Zuleika, kneeled and took her hand in his and then passed his other over her eyes and restored her sight. The others saw her eyes grow wide with wonder as she gazed at the face before her. The saw her whole countenance change, transfigured in bliss. Yussuf stood up and gently lifted her to her feet. Together they turned, without a word spoken between them, and he led her back to the palace and they were never without each other again.”


“Grandfather, the story of Yussuf and Zuleika was both sad and beautiful, but I feel that it has meaning beyond itself—like all of the stories that you tell me.”


“You are right dear Granddaughter; all of the great Sufi stories have multiple meanings, depending on who the listener is. Tell me first, what do you make of it?”


“First I would say that the story of Yussuf and Zuleika is a love story, and as you have reminded me so many times, ‘the tale of love must be heard from love itself, for like the mirror, it is both mute and expressive.’ Now I am just a young girl; I know nothing about love between a man and a woman, but am I wrong in thinking that this story is not about that kind of love?”


“It is, and it isn’t, because in both the dream and the reality there is only love. Love alone prevails, and there is always continuity between all of the levels of illusion and reality—between the deepest deep sleep and complete awakening. The worldly minded can take from this story the lesson that love has the power to lift oneself out of oneself, to transform one’s life, to bring both happiness and suffering. It is also about sacrifice and suffering. Did not Meher Baba once say that real love is not for the weak and faint-hearted? When human love reaches its zenith, the lover loses oneself in the beloved—one forgets herself. Zuleika sacrificed herself, her life, lost herself, lost her life and still cared for nothing except Yussuf.”


“And Grandfather, what of the so-called spiritually minded? What are they to take from this story?”


“Yes, the spiritually minded—the seeker—the wayfarer; there are many lessons…many lessons… I will give you my interpretation of this story:


“Yussuf was a man and Yussuf became more than a man—Yussuf became a Perfect Man—a Perfect Master. In the beginning of the story Yussuf was already advanced on the path. This is what accounts for his extraordinary beauty and the attraction that all felt for him. But, though advanced, he was still in illusion; his consciousness was still of illusion. His state was symbolized by his imprisonment and his slavery. Yussuf was experiencing the most excruciating state of seeing God everywhere and in everything, yet was not able to recognize himself as God—not yet in the state of union with God.


“Now, Zuleika saw Yussuf three times in a dream—in a vision. Yussuf was reaching out for her from his state on the inner planes of consciousness. She too, was reaching out for him—reaching out for God. This was not the first lifetime they were to be together. Do you know dear Granddaughter that the Sufis have many words for love? Some say that there are sixty-seven; some say that every word is a word for love. Those that study the inner-science of calligraphy know that every letter has its own meaning also. There are those who practice writing the same letter for years and years.


“Yes, Zuleika had courted and been courted by love for lifetimes, and as the saying goes, ‘When her time has come, the prey finds the hunter.’ Love was her Beloved, but love was not her only beloved, and at a certain time—when the moment is right—the real Beloved appears and begins to destroy one by one, or sometimes all at once, the lover’s other beloveds—the lover’s desires.



“So, after Yussuf’s realization, symbolized in our story by his release from bondage and his acquisition of power over the kingdoms of heaven and earth, he began his work to make Zuleika worthy of union with him—worthy of union with God.”


“And so he took away her riches?”


“Yes.”


“And her sight?”


“Yes, my dear, he took away everything—including himself.”


“And why did he take away himself?”


“My dear, it is a game the Beloved plays with the lover—it is a game of push and pull—Hafez spoke of it when he said, ‘I straddle the line between the barren desert and the cultivated fields.’ It is a state the Beloved gives to the lover. Neither does the lover have the pains and pleasures of worldly life, nor does she have the joys of the spiritual world.

“The lover begins to cry out to the Beloved, ‘Neither do I have this world nor the next, nor am I even able to see you. You hide from me and from your hiding place you shoot arrows that pierce my heart. And you just go on shooting me, covering me with wounds! See my pitiable state, I have nothing left except these wounds, and so I beg you, if you do not show yourself to me, then do not stop shooting your arrows—for they are all I have—and when I look inside my wounds—I see you! So, please, keep shooting your arrows for I can bear everything—except your disregard.’”


“Indeed Grandfather, this game of love is not for the weak and fainthearted.”


“True, but as Hafez says, ‘Praise be to God, for He never tries His slave in vain.’ And when the time is right, as it was for Zuleika, He takes her to Him, we becomes One, and the lover has Everything—Infinitely and Eternally!”
                                                                                    © Copyright Michael Kovitz 2019


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