meditation and spiritual growth

Azita just graduated from Tehran University, but the road to this day was not always paved with flowers and happy times.   Ever since she was a child she dreamt of becoming a doctor, helping people, ever instilled with a spirit of charity and love.  And now it was coming true.

Her father Mehrab was a merchant of electronic goods.  He is an electrical engineer by trade, but a store owner by necessity.  Cell phones seemed to sell quickly.  Her mother Tara worked at the family store doing the bookkeeping and ordering the inventory.  Her four brothers and one of her sisters were all still in school, but spent the weekends either in study or helping out.  Occasionally her two older brothers would take the family truck and travel to Turkey to pick up some “hard to get” electronic goods.   

Azita lived a life of joy, exhilaration, amusement, sorrow, anxiety, worry, fear, panic, sadness, depression, insecurity, humiliation, astonishment, euphoria, delight and love.  When she was five her pet Chickadee bird “Jannat” escaped from his cage and flew away into the night.  When she fell off her bicycle at age 6, for a time she was afraid to get up and ride it again.  When her older sister got married it was joy and jubilation for almost a week.  When there was a fire at her parents store she was depressed and felt insecure.  She was anxious when studying for exams and jubilant when her best friend Kiana also received a scholarship to the same medical academy.

The moods of life are false overlays on the screen of our unbounded, unchangeable consciousness. 

They flash across our psyche like the projected image of a movie on the big screen.  We say it’s all real because we have a body that experiences sensations.  We remember a past and look forward to a future.  Yet, we participate in the dream and dance across the stage of life.   

But Azita and her family already knew this, as they are devotees and practitioners of the Sufi tradition.     

Sufism explores the mystical knowledge of God, and his Love. Adherents try to expand beyond intellectual understanding into mystical (existential) union; the direct experience of God. 

It has been described as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.”

According to experts, the Sufi philosophy is universal in nature, while its roots predate the rise of Islam.

Muslims practice Islam to be closer to God.  They believe that by acting to please Allah they will gain Paradise (heaven).   The eternal fate of their soul is determined after death and the Final Judgment. 

But Sufis believe that their practices allow them to more fully embrace God while living the present life on the Earth.  They aspire for what we have called Enlightenment, here and now.      

The name Sufi is derived from the Arabic word “Suf” which means wool. Early Sufis wore simple coarse woolen garments similar to those of Christian monks. 

Sufism uses Christian, Gnostic, Jewish, Zoroastrian and Hindu traditions that were brought into Islam by converts from the many conquered lands. Sufism believes that the Qur’an and Hadith have secret, esoteric, meaning and symbolism.

Whirling Dervish

The Pillars of Sufism:
» Dhikr, or remembrance – involves repeating a sacred phrase or divine names, to lead to continuous remembrance/consciousness of God.  Ceremonies (Sema) include various forms of worship such as recitation, singing, instrumental music, dance (most famously the Sufi whirling of the Mevlevi order), incense, meditation, and ecstasy.

It takes many weeks of training to become a whirling dervish.  It involves mastering not just the physical dance steps (while keeping your balance), but also mental meditation and spiritual communion with God all at once.      

» Muraqaba – is likened to the practice of meditation.  Contemplation, taking care of the spiritual heart attunes one to the divine presence, and concentration, to cut off from all preoccupation and notions that which inflict themselves upon the heart.

» Visitation – a common practice is to visit the tombs of saints, great scholars, and righteous people.

Human subjective moods change along with the external objective world.  Sometimes the sky is blue, while at other times is it cloudy and dark.  Sometimes we are happy, and at other times we are sad and distressed.

Why is the sky blue? It’s due to the scattering of sunlight by particles and atoms/molecules in the atmosphere.

White light is actually composed of light from many different colors (rainbow spectrum).  The longest wavelengths of light are on the red end of the spectrum and the shortest wavelengths are on the blue/violet end of the spectrum. 

When sunlight enters the Earth’s atmosphere it collides with oxygen and nitrogen atoms (this is called Rayleigh scattering). Colors with the shorter wavelength are scattered more by this collision. Because violet and blue are the shortest wavelengths the sky appears to be violet / blue. But because our eyes are more sensitive to blue light than they are violet light, we perceive the sky as blue.

Since the color of the sky depends upon what atoms are in the atmosphere, we can then deduce that other planets probably have skies of a different color.   

The chemical composition of the Earth’s atmosphere and sky color: Nitrogen (N2) – 78% Oxygen (O2) – 21% Other (Argon, Carbon dioxide, Neon, Helium, Methane, Krypton, Hydrogen, Nitrous oxide, Carbon monoxide, Xenon, Ozone, Nitrogen dioxide, Iodine, Ammonia, Water vapor, and other items) 1 %

Sky color – violet / blue

The chemical composition of Venus’s atmosphere and sky color: Carbon Dioxide – 96.5% Nitrogen – 3.5% Sulfur dioxide, Argon, Carbon monoxide, Helium, Neon

Sky color – yellow because of the sulfurous clouds

Martian Sky

The chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere and sky color: Carbon dioxide – 95% Nitrogen – 2.7% Argon – 1.6% Oxygen – 0.13% Water vapor – 0.03 % Sky color – cyan

Around sunset and sunrise the Martian sky is pinkish-red in color, but in the vicinity of the setting sun or rising sun, it is blue. This is the exact opposite of the situation on Earth. However, during the day the sky is a yellow-brown “butterscotch” color.

The chemical composition of Saturn’s atmosphere and sky color: Hydrogen – 96% Helium – 3% Methane – 0.4% Ammonia – 0.01%

Sky color – Like the Earth’s, the sky in the northern hemisphere of Saturn is blue.  However, the southern hemisphere of Saturn has a yellow sky, caused by thick clouds reflecting yellow sunlight.

Layers of the Earth’s atmosphere:

This is the outermost layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.  It’s composed primarily of hydrogen, with some helium, carbon dioxide and atomic oxygen at the lower level.  Particles at this elevation are affected the Earth’s magnetosphere and the Solar wind.  It is observable from space as the Geo Corona, and is seen to extending to at least 100,000 km (62,000 mi) from the surface of the Earth.  It’s a transitional area between Earth’s atmosphere and interplanetary space.

Thermosphere This is the largest of the Earth’s atmospheric layers.  Temperature increases with height in the thermosphere.  It can rise to 1,500 °C (2,730 °F), but since the gas molecules are so far apart (unlike on the Earth’s surface) this temperature is not something that we can easily relate to. Ultraviolet radiation causes ionization.  The International Space Station orbits in this layer, between 320 and 380 km (200 and 240 mi).  The height of this layer fluctuates depending upon the amount of solar activity.

This layer is 85 km – to between 500 and 1,000 km above the earth’s surface.

Mesosphere Temperature decreases with height in the mesosphere, and is the coldest place on the Earth (-85 °C, -121 °F; or 188.1 K).  This is where most meteors (or shooting stars) burn up.  Water vapor is frozen, forming ice (Noctilucent) clouds.   

This layer is 50 – 85 km above the earth’s surface.

Stratosphere The temperature in this layer increases with height.  The atmospheric pressure is 1/1000 sea level. Most commercial airliners fly at 9-12 km, so they are in the lower part of this layer.

This layer is 10 – 50 km above the earth’s surface.

Troposphere The troposphere begins at the Earth’s surface and extends to between 7 km (23,000 ft) at the poles, and 17 km (56,000 ft) at the equator, with some variation due to weather.  The troposphere is primarily heated by thermal transfer of energy from the surface, so on average the lowest part of the troposphere is warmest and temperature decreases with altitude.  This layer contains about 80% of the total mass of the atmosphere and 99% of its water vapor.

This layer is 0-10 km above the earth’s surface

The Great Sufi Saint – Founder of Qaderia Sufi Order – Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani

A strong student to teacher bond exists in the Sufi order.  The student seeks out a genuine teacher, a Master of the Way, who has roots that can be traced back to Mohammed.  Sufism cannot fully be learned from books, but rather by serving the teacher for many years and following their guidance to experience more subtly awareness of the divine presence. 

Quotes from Sufi Masters:

I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God.

Abu Sa’id, Whatever you have in your hand – give it;

Whatever is to be your fate – face it!

Bayazid Bistami,
The Thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it.

Idries Shah,
Enlightenment must come little by little-otherwise it would overwhelm.

Shaykh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir, To your mind feed understanding, to your heart, tolerance and compassion. The simpler your life, the more meaningful. The less you desire of the world, the more room you will have in it

to fill with the Beloved.

Hafiz, O Beloved, there is no room left in my heart

For anything but You!

Hakim Sanai, How will you ever know him, as long as you are unable

to know yourself?

Mian Mir was a renowned Sufi saint of Lahore

Whatever your meditation practice is, close the eyes and transcend to the wonderful realm of absolute bliss consciousness.  Be a valuable participant in life by inspiring others.