Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Red, green & the bee by Rahal Eks

I'm in a new phase. Red for passion. Green clearly linked to Al-Khidr and recuperation, healing and nature per se. Evidently it is an interior state - but it also is reflected in my newly established base on the 10th floor with a skyline panorama view including the minarets of a distant mosque - half the apartment is painted green on the border towards turquoise, the other half red - my summer base and personal khaniqah/zaouia/tekkia. It could be anywhere and I won't tell you the location to leave room for your own vivid imagination. Feel free to be indulgent in this regard.

And what does the bee have to do with this?

It stands for "Al-Insan Al-Kamil", the perfected human being or in old Persian it was known under the term "Sarman" which means he who preserves the doctrine of Zoroaster, or the bee.

John G. Bennett, a student of George Gurdjieff wrote:
"The word can be interpreted in three ways. It is the word for bee, which has always been a symbol of those who collect the precious 'honey' of traditional wisdom and preserve it for further generations. A collection of legends, well known in Armenian and Syrian circles with the title of The Bees, was revised by Mar Salamon, a Nestorian Archimandrite in the thirteenth century. The Bees refers to a mysterious power transmitted from the time of Zoroaster...
and made manifest in the time of Christ.... Man is Persian meaning as the quality transmitted by heredity and hence a distinguished family or race. It can be the repository of an heirloom or tradition. The word sar means head, both literally and in the sense of principal or chief. The combination sarman would thus mean the chief repository of the tradition." Yet another possibility was "those whose heads have been purified", in other words: the enlightened.

Gurdjieff states that the Sarmoun Brotherhood was known to have existed somewhere in Mesopotamia up to the sixth or seventh century AD. He believed that the northern Sufi orders could well be under the hidden direction of the Khwajagan, the "Masters of Wisdom" - themselves in turn delegated by the Sarman "Inner Circle", the "Assembly of the Living Saints of the Earth".

In the Account of the Sarmoun Brotherhood (1966, 1982) by Major Desmond R. Martin, a major center of the contemporary Sarmoun Brotherhood was said to be in the Hindu Kush mountains of northern Afghanistan. Martin was known as an associate of the writer and Sufi teacher, Idries Shah. The Sarmouni's motto according to Martin is said to be "amal misazad yak zaati shirin / work produces a sweet essence". The implied work was not only work for Allah and for others but also work on self-improvement, the greater jihad or greater striving with the commanding self, the Nafs. In this regard it is maintained that just as the bee accumulates honey, so the Sarmouni accumulate, store and preserve what they call "true knowledge" - something equally seen as a positive commodity and related with the spiritual gift or energy of "baraka" which in times of need is released once more into the world through specially trained emissaries.

Edward Campbell, alias Ernest Scott, wrote the worthwhile reading book The People of the Secret. He was another associate of Idries Shah and describes studies in extrasensory perception being undertaken in the contemporary Sarmoun monastery in Afghanistan.

The Face of Allah, also known as the enneagram or the nine faces of the soul is a 9-pointed star - at times shown in a more complex geometric figure of a circle within it a square and within that a heart-shape and in its very center a bee giving the 9 points that are forming the heart, so to speak.

Is that an echo of the alchemist's saying to square the circle and to do the "great work"?

In the very center we find the numerical value zero - it is our aim to become a zero, the place for emptiness and divine reception. The place where the honey (the knowledge & baraka) can be received, stored and released. Honey is also known in the Arab world for its healing properties.

And here we come to the essence: the circle = al-halqa - and heart-related matters on the mystic Sufi Path.

What is the Sufi Tradition? It is not a social group that meets every blue moon on Thursday evenings to eat cookies, drink tea, gossip and play the victim blues. It is a mystical school of an alive and practical/esoteric wisdom that functions through people - organized loosely in Tariqas, Sufi Orders, which in turn consist of numerous halqas, circles. Each halqa is like a workshop, kept alive by its members who actively take part in the Sufi activities and exercises with the side effect of cultivating and establishing true friendships among the members and aiming for harmonious relations with society at large, creating positive impacts and ripple effects. A workshop only functions when there is a real need. When the need deteriorates a workshop may close down temporarily or for good or change and appear elsewhere in a new form to cater to a real need in a different location.

This also brings us to the theme of khilwat, retreat - at times khilwat dar anjuman, retreat in company. In both cases it serves to detach oneself from disturbing and problematic situations in order to recharge one's inner being and spiritual battery and to clarify confusions. It is a time or moment to reflect and meditate, to go within, to let go and trust and reconnect consciously with the Source of Sources of Absolute Being, the One.

We are in the month of Sha'ban, seen as the preparation for Ramadhan. Its 15th night is traditionally known as Laylat al-Bara'ah, the night of liberation of sin. In this regard the expression "tawba" comes up and for that any day will do too - better late than never. Often this is translated as "remorse" - yet the root of the Arabic word implies reversal, to return. It indicates the returning onto the straight path, sirat al-mustaqim. And surely Allah is not only beautiful and loves beauty, He is above all also Al-Rahman and Al-Rahim, Most Gracious, Most Merciful and Al-Karim, the Generous - not to forget Al-Wadud, the Loving - and Al-Wali, the Friend. All His 99 Most Beautiful Names and qualities which are also relationships with creation are contained in Allah. His Names and qualities are in us as seed-potentials to be cultivated and activated by polishing our heart mirrors with dhikr - each in a unique way, each in a different mixture of tones to celebrate unity within diversity.

In that sense the world and us are sound, like different ragas or musical maqams. Fine tuning creates harmony and perfection, while disharmony needs to be stopped and transformed.

I'm writing these lines while on my personal retreat and pondering about the fate of my halqa.

From time to time it is vital to test and check people's dedication and above all intention. Nothing less than "whole-heartedly" is accepted - a holistic commitment - all else would be playing the fragmented blues in the sand box of a kindergarten scenario.

At the end of the day it becomes clearer and clearer: Not everyone is made to walk the Sufi Path, although per se everyone is welcome to knock on the door. It all depends how you answer the question "Who is at the door?" - and first of all knowing when to knock. Timing is definitely half the rent. The other half is adab and dedication which includes the cultivation of love and the willingness to work on your self.

There are times when no honey is released, and there are times when it flows fully. Just as there is time of inaction and action, not to forget the "stand by mode"!

And Shibli said: "Sufism is to be what you were before you came to be."

While Hujwiri wrote: "The reason people remain attached to things is they do not see them as they really are. If they did, they would be free of them."

Ya Haqq wa ishq bashad, saludos Rahal