As a blogger who has posted and reposted , tweeted and re-tweeted Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee articles about the End of the Era and the Light going out of Civilization, I have been witness to the wide panoply of reactions both within myself and also into those of the many comments and readers worldwide. I have learned a lot from what I have seen and I would like to offer my thoughts on a few things which for the most part I have remained silent about.
The Sheikh and the Mirror
Looking at many reactions I am reminded of two things one of which I learned as a dervish and the other I came across in the Maqalat of Shamz Tabriz. Firstly as a dervish, we witness and see for ourselves how the role of any shaikh is to hold up a mirror to our eyes. While he or she holds up this mirror. Quite often we cannot see things as they are. I remember reading how the Prophet (PBUH) prayed to God asking him to see things as they are. If the Prophet could ask such a thing, what to say for me , what to say for us? The Shaikh is the servant of the people and through emptying himself or herself, through polishing the mirror of their own heart they like a mirror can reflect the divine light to each of us who come to sit with them.
I see and feel the message that Llewellyn has gone to such lengths to share with us in many departments in my life. He is only giving a voice and shape to many of the things we all have known already, but for some reason have not fully acknowledged. As I walk through New York City, I see so much despair and hopelessness and pain. Of course having lived here all my life I am not under the illusion and sway of the simulacrum of what people consider New York City to be. One can also look at the headlines of the daily newspaper, the oil spills, the many wars going on, the natural disasters and come to the clear understanding that the world is and all its constituents are no long in harmony.
The question that plagued my mind while observing all of the different reactions was simply if for the most part we are aware of the lack of harmony in our world and that something is wrong why did these four articles conjure up such a projection of angst and anger. This question brought me to the Anecdote from Shams Tabriz. Briefly to recapitulate (to read the whole anecdote click here:)
If you prostrate yourself a hundred times in front of a mirror, it never moves from its place. If any ugliness has appeared in the mirror, know that it is your own; do not despise the mirror. Hide the fault that you see on his face from him, because he is my friend. With the tongue of the heart, he says, “Surely, this is not possible.”
Now, O friend, you say, “Place the mirror into my hand so that I may look at it!” Yet I cannot find a pretext for this, nor can I deny your request; but i say in my own heart, “Let me find some pretext not to give you the mirror, because if I say that there is something wrong with your face, perhaps you will not accept it; and if you say that the mirror is defective, this will be worse for you.” Yet love does not allow me to find a pretext. Now I say, “Let me give you the mirror, but if you see some fault on its face, do not blame the mirror, but something reflected onto the mirror. Know that it is your own image; find the fault in yourself!
Ultimately the mirror is given to the man and as soon as he had beheld his own face, and saw it was ugly, he wanted to throw it to the ground and break it. With this anecdote in mind I would like to look at a comment that I happened to read online today.
An Interesting Comment
(Scroll down to read all Comments here)
I find I must answer you, partly to counter your dark and depressing message. It sounds as if you feel hopeless and have almost given up mankind for lost. I disagree so strongly! As a Sufi, you must know that there is so much more to the cosmos than science can deal with.
Again, as you yourself know, there is so much more potential for mankind than has yet been unfolded. I see the present stage as rather like a rebellious teenager who is willful, stroppy and very, very selfish. But he will grow up when he learns to think and act for the wider good, not just his own private aims. Growing up means taking responsibility and this is what is so hard for us now – thinking globally is very hard to do, and challenges us to change our ways. There is a powerful fear of change: what will happen to me if I change what I want? What will happen to me if I live differently – who will I be?
Such a fear is operating now, on a personal and the political level. The nations are still drawn back into their own private agendas, when they know it is time to work for the good of all.
This behavior has been well summarized and dealt with by Hazrat Inayat Khan where he says this:
Very often I am in a position where I can say very little, especially when a person comes to me with his preconceived ideas and wants to take my direction, my guidance on the spiritual path. Yet at the same time his first intention is to see if his thoughts fit in with mine and if my thoughts fit in with his thoughts. He cannot make himself empty for the direction given. He has not come to follow my thoughts, but wants to confirm to himself that his idea is right. Among a hundred persons who come for spiritual guidance, ninety come out of that tap. What does it show? That they do not want to give up their own idea, but they want to have it confirmed that the idea they have is right.
I feel judging from this comment the commentator has not come to follow this line of ‘thought’ expressed but rather, speaks as he/she does because what is being said is not in harmony with what he/she feels to be true. This comment says more about the commenter than the message. Llewellyn has said this:
I do not think that there is no hope – there is always hope. As a mystic I believe ultimately in the grace of God, that in our time of greatest need is also our greatest opportunity. However I strongly feel that we need to need to accept the reality of the present situation in the inner and outer worlds and take responsibility of for what we have done.
And I do not think that witnessing or prayer (which are similar in many ways) is a “passive” activity. To hold consciousness in the midst of a difficult situation is very demanding, and brings the light of real awareness where it is needed. Witnessing and prayer are an important step towards real change.
Basically the person feels that the message that Llewellyn has shared with us is dark and depressing. According to her they feels from reading what Llewellyn has said that he has lost hope and given up on humanity. And the last statement is my favorite, from her understanding of Sufism, she feels that Llewellyn should know that there is much more to life than what science can deal with.
I am not trying to be nitpicking and pleonastically captious but I am using this comment to illustrate something for me which is very important which ties back into the anecdote of Shams Tabriz. Like the man in the mirror anecdote our anger and angst should really be directed at ourselves. We have ourselves only to be mad at, we cannot look to place blame on a country or a few countries, or on technology and science, or ultimately the person who brings us a message.
As a culture I feel we cannot stand much reality. Looking at aisle 7 at CVS (Chain Pharmacy) at all the anti aging creams, anti wrinkle creams, looking at the tabloid, the lack of many movie roles for older actresses, it’s clear we fear getting old and dying and falling outside the confines of what is socially acceptable. The moment someone brings our attention to our BS we silence them out of fear. But luckily this kind of reaction wasn’t the only reaction and I will talk to those reaction in the next part of this as well as my own reaction.
- My Responce to the Recent Writings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (1) (caravanofdreams.wordpress.com)
- My Responce to the Recent Writings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (4) – Summing Up. (caravanofdreams.wordpress.com)
- My Responce to the Recent Writings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (2) (caravanofdreams.wordpress.com)
- My Responce to the Recent Writings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (3) – Some thoughts on Myths (caravanofdreams.wordpress.com)