My Dear Friends,
I cannot express to anyone how difficult and easy ‘the path’ has been or is. When someone asks me what is it like to be a dervish, I say it’s like being passionately in love: full of arguments and yelling, bewilderment and single pointed attention, amazing moments experienced by both parties involved. On a side note, usually after I finish chuckling there are oddly enough no more questions.
I see fellow dervishes and others on their way and sometimes in passing, we happen to stop what we are doing, our eyes meet and in that moment we give each other a look. No words have to be exchanged but we both know that somewhere along the way, life has become a crucible and that we are both patiently enduring periods of expansion and contraction.
I have had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ Michael Greenstein, initially through his memoir: Adventures in Sufism: Stories from a Bronx Childhood. In his memoir, Mr. Greenstein tells us of his spiritual development from childhood to young adulthood; inclusive of his meeting with a spiritual teacher from the Sufi tradition that took place in the Bronx over a period of five years. Once I sat down to read the book, I didn’t move or get up until I finished. I had a million things to do: papers to grade, reports due, and as is often the case I probably [I am known for doing, like my father before me] burned some leftovers.
At the time, it was just the salve I needed. My wife and I had just lost our child, about three weeks before, and a month before that a massive earthquake had destroyed Port au Prince, Haiti from where my family hails. As well, I had just started therapy to end once and for all my ongoing battles with depression. When calamity hits, or during very stressful times, the most difficult thing for me to do is take a pause. The sincerity of Michael’s memoir really gave me pause; it helped me ‘remember.’
That to me is the beauty of the path: we are given exactly what we need when we need it, regardless of what form it takes. What matters after all is that the medicine or salve does its job; with the case of Michael’s memoir we have the good fortune of it tasting good as well
Shabistari says and I often come back to it that the whole of the world is a mirror. No matter where we turn we see this same drama unfolding between knowing and not- knowing, between the finite and the infinite.
YOUR eye has not strength enough
To gaze at the burning sun,
But you can see its brilliant light
By watching its reflection
Mirrored in the water.
So the reflection of Absolute Being
Can be viewed in this mirror of Not-Being,
For non-existence, being opposite Reality,
Instantly catches its reflection.
Know the world from end to end is a mirror.
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to benefit from Mr. Greenstein’s memoir, and so shall you. In the days to come, reading this, as it will be serialized on this blog and ultimately available through the shared box widget on the lower right side of the blog page.
Stay tuned for an excerpt from Adventures in Sufism: Stories from a Bronx Childhood in the next day or so.
Ya Haqq (To Truth)