Dr Nicholas Coleman’s Welcome to Spirit
The One beyond All
Source of the Universe
Substance of Life
Known and worshipped
By many names and by none
Here – now and hereafter
I really love Nick’s Welcome to Spirit – this acknowledgement that the Divine One is the whole universe and nothing exists save God or the One, is the core of Sufi belief and knowing. We are all part of this One, of the Unity that we are born into. Little ones are happy and still close to the Source, but as we grow up we develop our ‘personality’, we learn attitudes and opinions, develop coping mechanisms which help us deal with the world we live in.
However, these things, make us feel more and more separate from the One, and it is this separation which makes us ‘panic in our humanness’. What has been lost is our feeling of Unity with God, of Peace and happiness. Murshid Hidayat (the son of Hazrat Inayat Khan) used to say, very emphatically that the Soul is happy, it is happiness.
We come to realise that our attitudes and expectations of ourselves and others have to be ‘let go of’, before we can return to the place of Peace and happiness. This is a long and difficult task, and for the small self, it feels like death.
We can let go of fear and anger, not by ‘killing them’, which is repression: things repressed come up and bite us when we least expect it to, but by having mastery over them. We need to have fear when we are in danger, so that we can run or fight! We need the energy of anger to support the fight sometimes!
What makes us angry or fearful? Why? What can we do about it? What is it that causes our heart to be ‘wrenched and torn’? When we discover this, we can let it go. This is what separates us – instead of thinking that we are right, let us listen to what the other has to say. There is a possibility that we have much in common with them. Silence is often better than arguing, especially with someone who has made up their minds – just let it go. It is even harder sometimes, in our own families – to let go of giving ‘advice’ to our grown children, for instance. They don’t listen anyway, and just resent the interference. Love and silence and the occasional ‘Really!’ when we are told something we disagree with, goes a long way.
I had a dream, just after I was pondering this. My husband was working with Donald Trump. Yes Really! I noticed that he was using pencil and paper, and that he was quietly looking for a common ground behind all the mayhem. If we listen to others, we will find a truth that we can work with, rather than seeing and objecting to something we disagree with.
Hazrat Inayat Khan was a very charismatic and noble being; he was often taken for a religious leader or a prince. People would ask him what he believed in but he would first ask what they believed in. In the case of a young man on a boat he was travelling in, the young man said – Oh I don’t believe in God but I do believe in Nature. Then Murshid replied ‘Ah, I too believe in this’ and so they had a common ground on which to continue their conversation.
Sometimes it is interesting to ask Why. I was listening to a talk on RN last week. A book had been written called Love Dog, eat Pig, wear cow. This is shocking but it reflects our attitudes. I have a friend who is Korean – for her, dog meat is cooling if you have a fever. We take chicken soup for the same reason. Why do we have an attitude that we ‘know’ is right. It can be cultural, religious a parental dogma. Do we need it? Let it go!
Letting go of expectations is another great burden we can relieve ourselves of. Expectations of ourselves – often our inner parent still ruling us. We so want our parents to be proud of us, but what would we do to make ourselves proud? I had a friend in S. Africa – he left Germany as a 19-year-old, to get away from his father who was cruel and autocratic, but when he became a director of a small Safari company he had started with my ex-husband, he told me his father would be so proud of him if he knew. I was very surprised.
We also carry the expectations of others – let them go. Say no or act ‘no’ if it can’t be said! So freeing!
But we also expect things of others – our families and workmates. I have a friend who after years of frustration and anger with her husband for not taking out the kitchen rubbish every day, and not putting the bin out weekly (or bringing it in), finally gave up and did it herself. Of course he ‘should’ have done this for her, but rather than have a constant battle about it daily, better to accept and use the energy for something constrictive. As my dear husband would say – ‘what do you expect from a pig, but a grunt’!
We need to let go of the ‘Shoulds’ in our lives. I should be a good, I should be kind and supportive, I should look after the weak and defenceless! Well no! I have learned that the more we do for others, the more they expect.
We need to let go of so much in our lives.
This takes a long time, but knowing and experiencing we are all one, letting go of our differences, seeing God in one another, is truly the way towards a Lightness of Being.
In our beautiful prayer Khatum, we say ‘Raise us above the distinctions and differences which divide, and unite us all in Thy perfect Being.’