Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Going forward or the retro blues - by Rahal Eks

Going forward or the retro blues - by Rahal Eks

I took the picture to the left during one of my delightful stays in Cordoba, Al-Andalus. Yes, it is the entrance to the complex where the Great Mosque is located - a huge and most beautiful witness to Spain's glorious Moorish past.

Cultures and religions seem to go forward, expand, evolve and at times decline and fossilize - the same can be said about the evolution of people. It is not always a straight-forward line going forward, at times it seems curved, at times fluctuating, going back, only to make another quantum leap out-doing itself on a higher octave and so forth.

Those on a mystical-spiritual path such as the Sufi Tradition - if taken seriously and whole-heartedly and under proper guidance of an authorized "friend" - can be expected to develop along an up-hill road where the journey towards "fana", annihilation, takes place, which ends in the the endless journey within Allah's Ocean of Unity, in baqa, the goal of every Sufi seeker. Of course the laws of diversity apply on the seeker's path, some are rocketing off like shooting stars, others meander like the modulations of Arabic notes in an Oum Kalthoum song or in el cante jondo del Flamenco. Yet others crawl along and seem to stagnate until their time for leaping has come. There are more than 1001 ways and modalities of traveling the mystic path...

Each step of the path is to be enjoyed and every seeker has her or his specific rhythm and speed. It is not a race - rather a way of life. Along this journey to union (which is not really a journey, rather a lifting of veils and a refining of "adab"), the seeker is often blessed with a or various temporary states, in Arabic called "hal". These are the "bon bons" along the path, the foretaste to an evolving station, a maqam.

"Hals" are said to be temporary and "maqams" are said to be permanent. Well, perhaps permanent is not the best of words because a maqam can and should expand over time in intensity, it deepens, so to speak and it is not plagued by being static in a limiting way.

The other day someone asked me if it were possible per se to loose one's maqam - (provided one had reached a maqam in the first place and we are not talking of a temporary state, a hal). It was a good question and less abstract than it may sound in this context here, but I'm not intending to go into personal details here, that would be beyond the point. I must admit I was at a dead loss for a moment and consulted another authoritative "friend". She confirmed what I somewhat suspected: "Of course it is possible to loose your maqam! Either by becoming too haughty and arrogant and sure of yourself and/or by kicking your maqam with your feet, being ungrateful and going against your innermost being."

To sum things up: It is like a garden that needs to be maintained all the time, regardless on what octave you've arrived - or take another image: You have to cling to the wave (your maqam) and surrender surfing to be taken along the alive interplay of the constantly re-created Ocean of Unity of the Friend...

Going forward or wrongly indulging in the retrograde blues are options always open to free will. Some become true lovers, others not - it all depends on the choices people make, not to forget timing, which is half the rent. Rumi wrote "Fihi ma fihi", in it is what is in it, and I repeat: A rose is a rose is a rose. (Not just with a delightful perfume - there are also thorns on the way - and most likely those are your own creations when giving in to the commanding self, the Nafs).

Anyway, ishq bashad wa baraka bashad, saludos Rahal Eks.