My Responce to the Recent Writings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (1)

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.

Thoughts

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.

20 responses to “My Responce to the Recent Writings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (1)

  1. Mr. Lee may be going through his own spiritual crises, for no Sufi would utter such a phrase unless in some sort of clinically induced depression. Trusting in God, forbearing with patience the temporal changes, a dervish does the good in spite of the sometimes enormous odds, and gives thanks to the Source of all Goodness.

    Among wars, recession, killer diseases, world hunger, natural disasters, I assure you that humanity has never had more reason to hope, to glance upward, to praise God for living in the world today. From the Fall of the Soviet Empire to the Arab revolutions in many countries, the world is more free of tyranny than at any other time in human history. And it is not over yet. Aung San Suu Kyi is leading the march to freedom in Burma, and brave men and women struggle in this age of instant communication to free themselves in China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea, the last outpost of the failed experiment in Communist dictatorships.

    Our grandchildren and great grandchildren will live to see a far better world, more advanced scientifically, cleaner, less dependent on fossil fuels and fanatic ideology. The signs are there, not for some fantasy End Times.. It is in our genes to evolve toward what is greater than what we are, and as Sufis, to evolve in love toward God.

    Ya Haqq!

    • Irving, might you say just what “phrase” you are referring to? I find the articles written by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee to be potent examples of what you highlight – doing the good in spite of the sometimes enormous odds. Calling on humanity as a whole, and each of us individually as aspects of wholeness, to look to our participation in the current state of our inner and outer worlds, and to take responsibility for what we find therein.

      These temporal changes, does God not wish from us and for us our conscious acknowledgment?

  2. HI David, I wanted to post this here but I did it in to another post or yours:

    Yes, I understood you, If the mirror is inside of us, what is the only thing that reflects? Us. Then, there is nothing “outside” to blame, to criticize, to have opinion on…. Only reality is reflected, and reality is nothing more than reality itself.

    This is something that is not easy to deal with, but the very most important thing.
    Carlos Carrillo

  3. It is important to be aware of what Llewellyn does not say as well as what he does say. it is in the empty spaces where the Truth is found.

  4. Dear Dave,

    I so appreciate this post, and the beautiful, tragic story about the man in the mirror. I agree with you that as a culture we cannot stand much reality. Even on a personal level, the little put before me is extremely difficult to swallow. But the mirror is necessary, as is the messenger, and those in support of life that holds the sacred at the center. I’m left with Llewellyn’s words, “Witnessing and prayer are an important step towards real change.” Many thanks to your thoughtful words.

    Sherine Adeli

  5. This link mentions four articles. I have read two on the subject, st ecobuddhism.org. May I please have the other two links? Thank you.

  6. Thank you David for taking the time to work through these responses. So often I see similar discussions turn into emotional blame games with no real attempt at understanding. Your facilitation here makes it worth participating in the conversation.

    I don’t know if I have hope any more or not. I see things dying and being born. The difficulty is letting go of those things dying that have such a hold on me and those around me. It is frightening to try and step off a sinking ship, especially when the life boat is nowhere in sight. To really see what has contaminated the harmony of this world requires a lot of hard looking and constant prayer. Growing up isn’t effortless. (Some avoid growing up they’re whole lives.) I don’t think we can take for granted that evolution will lead us where we need to go. Yes, we need faith, but also humility.

  7. I want to thank all of you for your responses. They are all invaluable. To save time as i worked many hours this weekend, instead of addressing each of you individually I have incorporated what you each have said into my part two of which I am 80-90% finished. The dialogue has been great and I look forward to hearing from all of you again. My Best Wishes!

    Dave

  8. Hello, Dave.

    I agree with your comment and reservations regarding Llewellyn’s lamentations over the “darkness” and his rather dismal view of humanity’s future. I particularly appreciate your observation below:

    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 responded to Llewelleyn’s recent articles on the “End of the Era and the Light going out of Civilization,” which is posted at: http://contemplatingtruth.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/darkest-before-dawn/ .

    I could not understand how his views could be formulated in the name (or guise) of spiritual or mystical oneness. I find it so utterly incredible and irresponsible for a professed teacher of “oneness” to engage himself quite immersively in dualism, specifically the duality of opposing light and darkness. I have studied Sufism (and continue to do so), and nowhere in the teachings of Sufism do I find a justification for his dualist views.

    He replied to my initial and subsequent posts with clarifications which only served to accentuate all the more his dualist mindset. I know that he posted a second part to his first article on “Witnessing the End of an Era.” However, the sequel seems to have only reiterated his basic dualistic paradigm.

    I am glad I came across your blog. It is nice to know that others have also maintained their mindfulness and vigilance in upholding the truth of “oneness.”

    Thank you for BEING there, too.

    Marc

    • Cher Marc,

      Thank you for commenting on the blog. I appreciate all comments. I would be open to discussing further with you these articles of Llewellyn’s. However before doing so I would like to summarize for you my position on what he has said.

      My Thoughts

      Civilizations like human beings come and go as a trip to the museum (which to me is a fancy cemetary) can illustrate. Civilizations come as a vehicle allowing the humanity, and the human consciousness to evolve towards a certain destiny. I will quote from Idries Shah’s The Sufis

      Sufis believe that, expressed in one way, humanity is evolving towards a certain destiny. We are all taking part in that evolution. Organs come into being as a result of the need for specific organs (Rumi). The human being’s organism is producing a new complex of organs in response to such a need. In this age of transcending of time and space, the complex of organs is concerned with the transcending of time and space. What ordinary people regard as sporadic and occasional outbursts of telepathic or prophetic power are seen by the Sufi as nothing less than the first stirrings of these same organs. The difference between all evolution up to date and the present need for evolution is that for the past ten thousand years or so we have been given the possibility of a conscious evolution. So essential is this more rarefied evolution that our future depends upon it.

      When a new civilization comes into being there is a light that animates it and makes it possible for us to use it as a vehicle to further evolve our consciousness. Similarly there is an energy that keeps our body alive, and allows us to go through the experience of this life, until the time comes for us to shed it and transition onwards to our next stage. To me there is an interim period between th death of the old civilization and the birth of the new civilization during this period humanity is given the chance to consciously take part in the birth and seeding of the new civilization. During this time many hidden mystics work together to ease the transition. The history of the Khwajagan in Central Asia, specifically during the Mongol invasions can be seen as an example of this. This can also be seen in Europe during the heyday of Saracen Spain, a record of this exist in the myth and literature left behind as well as in the edifices erected. I feel currently this work can no longer be support by just mystics alone due to the far reaching ramifications of the abuses of the last few hundred years. When I look back on our living spiritual history I see many points where humanity has encountered such tumultuous transitions. Consequently since I see our civilization as part of a larger cycle I do not feel that what Llewellyn is saying as negative. Yvette comment reiterates a lot o what I have said in this particular post and I can do no better than to refer you to her recent comment.

      Concerning Llewellyn’s dualism, I cannot say much of anything other than to point out that to me an observer the issue here really is that what Llewellyn refers to as Oneness is not in sync with what you believe and experience it to be. The same can be said for the role of a ‘professed teacher of oneness’.

      • Hi, Dave.

        I have no problems with the observation that human civilizations come and go, rise and fall, or ebb and flow. That is the nature of anything built upon the human state of consciousness. It is a given, and it is very true in the manifest dimension of effects.

        However, all of that, including the “interim” or “transition” period you refer to, the seeming “evolution” of consciousness, and the very human state of consciousness, itself, are illusory. They are mere constructs in the human mind that perceives a duality of opposing forces (as in Llewellyn’s notion of conflict between darkness and light) or a fundamental sense of separation from the Infinite One-Source of All. They are the misleading and erroneous perceptions of the finite intellect mind which looks at and attempts to understand forms through the progression of (and in the context of) time and space. You will find that the wholistic intuitive mind, which can see and knows beyond the limited concepts and constructs of the intellect mind, will have a different approach and understanding to the same phenomena.

        In my understanding of mystical Oneness, only the light or spiritual energy that emanates from the One, which animates all life and manifests as all forms, is real, total and absolute in its reality. Darkness has no reality in and of itself, unlike the light. Hence, the light cannot be extinguished (or “devoured” in Llewellyn’s word of choice) by darkness in any era. (In my rejoinder to Llewellyn’s reply to my post, I stressed the danger of working from paradigms founded upon dualism. Dualism simply is not nondualist Oneness. And there is a grave danger when the human mindset is built on such dualism: It tends to perpetuate the dualism, which is what has been happening time and time again; hence, we will never arrive at the era of final enlightenment we all desire and seek.)

        How are we then to understand and explain the ebb and flow of civilizations or human eras? From the perspective of true oneness, all these activities are merely tidal surges of spiritual light as the Infinite seeks to establish (and reestablish) itself in ever increasing territories out here in the dimension of forms. It is similar to the upward moving spiral that circles wider and ever higher with every completed cycle.

        Darkness has never, I repeat NEVER, devoured or extinguished the light. It is the other way around: The light persists continually in encroaching areas of darkness, so that the light being shed can reveal the nothingness or emptiness of the darkness.

        If there is one valuable lesson I learned from my teacher, Joel Goldsmith, it is that consciousness is spiritually UNFOLDING, not evolving. Evolution implies a developmental process of addition or improvement through time and space in response to the need to bring a design or plan to completion or fullness. Spiritual unfoldment, however, implies that the design or plan already is complete; nothing else is needed to make it whole. The only thing we are witnessing is the piece-meal revelation of that whole. When seen through this paradigm, we can ignore and forget the darkness (which is the essence of forgiveness) and instead persevere and keep on working for the light as its bearer (we are light-bearers) in this world.

        We cannot make water rises any higher that its own level. This is true of any mystical understanding. But this much I know and I say:
        He who embraces the darkness wields the power of the light.

        Peace to you, Dave, in the Oneness that is.

        Marc

      • This is a good opportunity to get other people involved in this conversation. I will post my response to you in a separate blog post.

  9. Marc,

    I think perhaps you have misunderstood the thrust of what has so pointedly and beautifully been offered here by Dave regarding the message of Llewellyn. A re-reading might serve to elucidate. A few highlights to clarify:

    [ ... 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 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.

    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:

    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 .....

    (and this, my favorite) As a culture I feel we cannot stand much reality ]

    • Yvette,

      To quote your post: “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,” if this is the case, why should we bemoan the “darkness” we are experiencing in our world? Is not the darkness the dark unillumined side of our dual human nature being reflected in our external world? Should we, therefore, hate ourselves for that darkness within us which is part of our human nature?

      I think not: We have more than enough guilt, self-hatred and self-loathing (both with respect to our self and our other selves) to contend with in a lifetime.

      Rather, let us learn to befriend and love the darkness within us, no matter how horrible it may “appear to be” to us. Let us not cower in fear before it or in anxiety because of it. That darkness is the emptiness within our humanity waiting and longing to be filled with love and meaning by the light. That is the way to realizing wholeness within and to bring about healing to ourselves and our world. Besides, as I wrote Dave in my last post: He who embraces the darkness wields the power of the light.

      Marc

      • Marc,

        The quote you have taken from my post was a quote from Dave’s original post, and again, the thrust of it seems to have been sidestepped.

        No mention has been made of turning against the self in loathing of our darkness. And quite the contrary as far as the message put forth by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. What is being asked is that we recognize, and take responsibility for, the inner and outer devastation that has been created by our perception of separation. It seems to me that this very recognition and responsibility taking is fundamental to a true and fully embodied living of oneness.

  10. Yvette,

    Hafiz once said:

    God was so full of Wine last night,
    So full of wine
    That He let a great secret slip.

    He said:
    There is no man on this earth
    Who needs a pardon from Me —
    For there is really no such thing,
    No such thing,
    As sin.

    If, as Hafiz wrote, there is no sin or sinner before God’s eyes, what evil or “darkness” or “devastation” is there to recognize and be responsible for in the name of Oneness?

    “A true and fully embodied living of oneness” does not require such recognition and responsibility because wrongs are done in error and ignorance (according to Yeshua’s teaching: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”). We are not to bind ourselves nor others to the wrongful appearances we might humanly perceive in the outer world. There is no spiritual truth or metaphysical reality to error.

    “A true and fully embodied living of oneness” only requires that we see through the appearance of material forms, beyond the human belief in duality which fosters and festers the error in the mind, leaving behind any illusory sense of separation from God, and into the pure mystical truth of nondual Oneness.  

    I quote from an earlier post I sent Llewellyn Vaugahn-Lee that is published in my Weblog:

    Admittedly we need to take responsibility, but our responsibility is to the light, not to the darkness.  This then should be our attitude of responsibility: To adopt and work with the right paradigm that helps us realize the light is supremely One, and thereby, to inwardly and outwardly realize we are the very light we are seeking to welcome.  We are the light of the world.  The conscious remembrance of that truth is our only right “attitude of responsibility” to ourselves and to the planet — nothing else.  From that remembrance will flow everything else, including the recognition of our oneness with the planet and the rest of the universe.

    The point I am making is being grossly missed and therefore lost: As long as a belief in duality (darkness versus light, evil versus good, etc.) is recognized by us and persists in consciousness, there will never be a new enlightened era for human civilization.  And the world will never be rid of what we consider “evil, darkness or devastation;” it will rear its ugly head over and over and over again. This is a huge “catch-22″, that is why all true mystics like Hafiz teach (as the greatest secret) the nondual nature of God’s absolute oneness.

    It is a paradox, but the recognition of evil in the face and truth of an all-good and all-loving Oneness merely gives more life, energy and reality to evil, in any human era and with every human generation that perpetuates the belief in such duality.

    I end this post by reproducing Irving’s wonderful earlier post (above) for its living wisdom and its luminous vision:

    Mr. Lee may be going through his own spiritual crises, for no Sufi would utter such a phrase unless in some sort of clinically induced depression. Trusting in God, forbearing with patience the temporal changes, a dervish does the good in spite of the sometimes enormous odds, and gives thanks to the Source of all Goodness.

    Among wars, recession, killer diseases, world hunger, natural disasters, I assure you that humanity has never had more reason to hope, to glance upward, to praise God for living in the world today. From the Fall of the Soviet Empire to the Arab revolutions in many countries, the world is more free of tyranny than at any other time in human history. And it is not over yet. Aung San Suu Kyi is leading the march to freedom in Burma, and brave men and women struggle in this age of instant communication to free themselves in China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea, the last outpost of the failed experiment in Communist dictatorships.

    Our grandchildren and great grandchildren will live to see a far better world, more advanced scientifically, cleaner, less dependent on fossil fuels and fanatic ideology. The signs are there, not for some fantasy End Times.. It is in our genes to evolve toward what is greater than what we are, and as Sufis, to evolve in love toward God.

    “Those are the ones who have purchased error [in exchange] for guidance, so their transaction has brought no profit, nor were they guided. Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, Allah took away their light and left them in darkness [so] they could not see.” (Chapter 2:16-17, The Holy Qur’an)

  11. Marc,

    You speak of our responsibility being to the light, and not to the darkness. I feel that our responsibility to the light is a recognition of how we have turned from it, from our very essence. Is not this recognition the end of (our perceived) separation and the living of Oneness? This, I perceive, is what is being called forth through the questioned writings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.

    Therefore, I find both your and Irving’s disparaging a sign of misinterpretation, and in no way a sign of any belief in absolute duality running through the offerings of Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. With this being so, I will politely bow to the need for no further clarifications. Thank you.

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