In describing the different approaches of two sects of Sufism, the Naqshband and the Chisti, John explores the development of an inner listening center, based in the heart rather than the head, as a way of tuning into the more subtle, vibratory, aspects of our inner lives. The goal of any development work is the same: become useful as the eyes and ears of God in this world. How we get there is less important than that we ultimately do. (At the end of this post there are instructions and a link to download this recording to your computer.)
John: In my dream last night, I went into a building like you might see in New York that’s really small, maybe one room, probably a bathroom down the hall.
And there was just one room and I come into this in an amnesic state, not knowing where I’d come from. I don’t recall having a lot of belongings, but as soon as I came into the room, I noticed a coin or two on the floor, on the bed, and various places. So I start picking them up and they’re all silver dollars.
The more I picked up the more there was to pick up. Pretty soon, I was picking up 6 or 7 and I was stuffing them in my pocket. Must have been pretty deep pockets because I sure was stuffing a lot in.
All of a sudden, somebody stands in the front, in my room, and says, “Give ’em to me,” or “Put it here,” something like that. In my amnesic state, I identify with them trying to take something from me, but I don’t make the connection that it’s the coin or anything. All I know is they were there to take something from me.
And essentially, I don’t give into that. I offset that gesture by standing there. Next thing you know this thing progresses out into the hallway. Next thing I know I go into another single room where his girlfriend stays, and I share with her what he’s trying to do, it’s like he’s attempting to accost me by making these demands. “Call the police.”
So she calls the police and it’s a busy signal. And I notice the relief I got just the fact that, if you think about it, I could have been in bad shape. What if she was in cahoots? Just because what was going on was a little embarrassing. It didn’t intensify anything. So I said, “Well, okay.”
The next thing I know what ends up being called is a locksmith that lives up above. There were two guys. One of them comes down and he’s a jovial fellow and eager to change the locks. Well, I’m standing out in the corridor again, only this time a corridor that’s on the other side of the room where I’m normally at.
The reason why I call them to change the locks was because when I went out the front door the whole mechanism was broken off. There was no real door knob or lock or anything. When I was in there picking all this stuff up, it was like the door was half open; it didn’t really properly shut.
So now when this guy comes down, I’m standing more towards the back part that opens into an alley corridor and there’s a door there. I don’t have to worry about the back door. I just have to fix the front door.
In the meantime, before the guy shows up, I’m out there talking to the guy that had been confronting me, and we’re just talking in a nice, easygoing way. It’s almost very friendly, even though he had used a certain firmness that I didn’t yield to, didn’t hand anything over. He’s saying that I would have taken a lot of pain.
In other words, if he had had to try to do it physically or something, I would have absorbed a lot of pain, I had that capacity or something. He saw that.
That isn’t how I saw myself when he first confronted me. It was like Jiminy Christmas! I’m indifferent to everything. Do I just hand it over to him? Hand what over to him? It’s not like I had anything. Like I said, it was a one room type deal and pretty minimalistic. I don’t have much to hand over.
I take that to be a bit of a dream about willpower, developing a certain something that reaches to the resource that opens inside of yourself as a vibratory echo. How you hear it is different, perhaps, as a Naqshband than as a Chisti, but maybe not. It’s just how it registers might be a little different.
Does one take it and get to the point where they hear what’s not being heard, as an energetic, and as a vibration, that shapes and comes through, and you, therefore, have a certain quality that comes across because it’s like that? I guess I just see myself more having to denote this in some sort of inner way.
It’s like something happens in this subtle inner way or, I guess as you would say, the teaching’s at night, or we’re together at night where there’s less confusion in terms of the energetic, and in the outer there’s more vibration of the density of things. They’re just different approaches.
If I take and I sit, something can happen and that can be in the Chisti fashion. If I take and I run some sort of vibration through me, my ears will ring a lot more, like more in the Naqshband or something, and I just go somewhere that way, too. They both do the same thing. It’s just that, which grabs the depth from myself better?
Both of them try to relate to something that is beyond our ordinary faculties. And both involve a person adopting and hearing a listening center, and a seeing center, in some capacity to that which isn’t see-able. And yet you somehow know it.
Both go towards that. It’s just that they do it in slightly different ways. What is inclined, if I’m to be too judgmental, to turn me off would be all those techniques. All those techniques do jerk through things and are very important and very powerful in their own way, but can you hear it in a more subtle context, too?
Each bit of it got subtler, and subtler, and subtler, and subtler. And that’s how you advance inside; that’s how you work on yourself. You prune, you polish the heart, and you work on yourself to the point where you hear it subtler and subtler and subtler and subtler.
You have to somehow or another come to that yourself with a type of hearing. In other words, you don’t do this simply because it’s a nice New Year’s resolution. You do it because something else is moving inside that pulls you, that’s opening, that pulls you in that capacity.
What is it that pulls you in that capacity? Some intangible, and each person hears the intangible differently. That’s why each person is worked with somewhat differently.
With the Naqshband, there’s not a lot of practice that’s given. With the Chistis, there are more things to try to cut through the rust. They seem to take on more responsibility in terms of things in the outer.
I don’t know that they actually do, I think it just might be a different way of doing it. I think that each person has to carry . . . we are, you know, the eyes and the ears of God in all of life, and to what degree and what manner and what fashion do we catch up with that?
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