Friday, August 1, 2014

Recognising His Story

Khidir

Letting the Divine Being live life through us is the essence of every genuine spiritual path, a truth that has been expressed in countless myths and stories since time immemorial, not only by Paul (it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me). After all, modern humankind is meant to become the eyes of the One; in other words: Being in the World. On this is based an ancestral tradition inherited by mystics, such as the Sufis who say this glorious event takes place “where the two seas meet”, the point in which Moses could meet the Wise Khidir, that enigmatic Green Man present in so many tales, even the Celtic lore [1]. A figure that represents the “living contact” with the Wisdom that comes out of Life itself, not out of books or teachers of flesh; external teachers can only point to the True Master of All. The Divine can shine and teach on every aspect of our lives, if we are awake enough to recognise His Love Story.
To listen more about this point, it is worth listening to the talk and chapter Where the Two Seas Meet [2], to which the following excerpt belongs:
Why can we not just give our self to this love, to this power? Why do we fight, try to defend our self, swim against the current? This too is part of our human drama, the doubts and distress, the anger that can come from deep within. It is not easy to surrender, to give oneself. We are not made in this way. It takes time to bow down before God. And we have to bow down again and again, always when we are most vulnerable. And yet from this battering by love something is born, a silence, a quality of being, a softness that belongs to love’s sweetness. There are so many ways the Divine comes alive within us. This inner alchemy is the promise of the heart: that if we stay at the place where the two seas meet we will be changed, that love will reveal its secrets, secrets that are both human and divine.
The divine secrets are in many ways more obvious: experiencing the oneness that belongs to all of life as well as to our relationship with our Beloved, the endlessness of love, its intoxicating bliss, the inner peace it can bring, the compassion. There are many qualities of our divine nature. But what of the human secrets that are revealed? What are we shown about this sea of our self? Yes, there is the ordinariness of life that is given back to us, the simplicity of “chop wood and carry water.” Traditionally Khidr appears in the most ordinary form, often over-looked until he has passed: the fisherman we met on the bridge, the child who smiles at us. And in these ordinary moments any image of our self with difficulties or problems disappears and we experience life with a freshness that belongs to the moment; maybe we catch the laughter that is at the core of things. We are more fully alive.
I would like to say that this is all of the story, this return to the simplicity of our self. It has the quality of a return to Eden, recapturing the innocence of a childhood we may have never had. There is no judgment, just pure awareness and often joy. Watching the birds in flight, seeing a leaf fall in the wind, we experience life as fully present. I have been given such moments, which, like a fire in winter, give warmth and light. But what of the person who has made the journey: are all those stories just lost in this sunlight? Does anything remain of the traveler? I have come to believe that even when every 
image of our self has been dissolved like dew, there is still a story that has a meaning and a purpose. Love’s journey brings many scars, often scars in the heart, and they do not all fade away, even if their drama has lessened. They tell us something about what it means to be human, to stand at the place where the two seas meet, to see the dead fish become alive. And yet, because in moments of real experience there is no time, just the instant that is, these stories do not belong to any past; they are simply a part of what is. They are an essential part of our human mystical experience, our deepest knowing of our self.
For so long I tried to leave myself behind, to abandon it like the wreck of an old car. But always something remained, calling me back. Again and again I tried to avoid it, tried to purify it with love, dissolve it with light. Yet it still remained, as if its story needed to be told, its meaning uncovered. And this is where I am at this moment, with wonder and sadness, knowing that there is part of my own story that is still waiting. It is no longer a story of struggle and transformation, the pain of separation, the bliss of union. And yet it carries the remembrance of these states. It also carries a reminder that we are always separate from our Beloved, always a servant at His feet, even in the presence of the knowing that separation is an illusion and all is one.
So who is this person who is present at this place, whose light is part of the light of God even as I need to live it in my own small life? What really happens when these two seas come together? Do they mix and blend as one, or does each sea retain its own qualities, one speaking of an infinite ocean, the other of an ordinary human experience? How do they come together inside of me, and what story do they tell?
When Moses met Khidr at this place he asked, “Can I follow you, that you may teach me some of the knowledge and the guidance bestowed upon you?” But Khidr said that Moses would not be able to bear being with him, for “How can you stand that which you do not comprehend?” (Sūra 18:68). Three times Moses tried to follow Khidr, until finally he had to leave him, unable to bear his actions. On this journey it appears that the human and divine part ways, and yet the path of the mystic is to bear what we cannot understand, to follow without knowing why. Direct experience cannot be explained to the rational self: we must leave our Moses behind at the water’s edge. And yet there is also a human self who makes the journey with Khidr, who does not question or seek to understand. This is the self that remains.
And through this self something is revealed that is hidden from the vaster dimension of our being. It is not just the struggle and confusion, the longing and love, the giving of oneself and attempt at surrender. It is not even the simple awareness of the moment that sees the world with an open eye. Our human self can come to know something about this meeting of the human and divine—a meeting that takes place every moment in every breath, and yet is hidden so quickly by the patterns of existence, by the play of colors and forms we call life. Every moment the Divine comes into existence, and every moment this mystery is hidden the very instant it is revealed. It is quicker than a heartbeat and is so easily overlooked. You can only see it if you are at the place where the two seas meet, where the Divine and human come together. If you look just towards the Divine the light is too bright to see it. And if you are caught in the dramas of being human you will be too slow to notice it.
But every moment this secret is present. It is a moment of divine intention, a spark of divine purpose, that is at the same time our intention and purpose. It is said that we each have a unique, divine purpose, a note of the soul that we alone can play. And this unique note can only be played in this world, in time and space, in the limited world of forms. In the inner worlds that stretch beyond the horizon there is other music, beautiful celestial sounds. But here, in this world, we each have a calling and a purpose, and it seems much of life’s journey is to try to live this purpose, play this note. It is the greatest contribution we can make.
In each of us there is a longing to live this purpose, to “find the meaning and make the meaning our goal.” This is what calls us on our journey through life, and for some people, if they are fortunate, it is played out through the events of their life, a life which then becomes deeply meaningful and fulfilling. They are living their life’s purpose. Of course it is also easy to be sidetracked, caught in the illusions of the world, its pleasures and pain. Then we lose touch with our unique purpose and life becomes gradually more and more meaningless, however we may try to fill it with distractions. For some people spiritual life offers a way to try to regain this meaning, to reconnect with this purpose, and yet it also has its own distractions, illusions of light or “spiritual development.” There are so many ways to get lost in this world.
But underneath the play of events, the seeking for meaning and purpose, the losing and finding, is this simple meeting of the Divine and the human: the divine purpose coming into human form. This is what takes place where the two seas meet—this is the meaning of Khidr appearing as an ordinary person. Because one of the greatest mysteries is that there is a divine purpose that is only revealed in this world of forms, and as human beings we carry this purpose in our hearts and in the light of our consciousness. We carry the light of the divine coming into existence, the wave of the divine sea meeting the wave of the human sea. We are the divine purpose being made manifest. This is the hidden love story of the world, which the Sufis call the secret of the word “Kun!” (“Be!”).

The currents of the Divine come to meet us and we come to meet the Divine. And in that meeting we merge and are one, as two waves coming together, and yet also remain separate—because as Ibn ‘Arabī reminds us, “the servant is always the servant and the Lord is always the Lord.” This is the promise and the pain of the mystic: we long to return to love’s infinite ocean, to merge back into the source. And yet we have to remain here in this physical world of multiplicity to play the unique note of our being. We have to honor what it means to be a human being even if we have tasted what it means to be dissolved in love.

[1] Check the story Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, not to be missed, for it is full of living Wisdom. 
[2] Excerpt from final chapter of the book Fragments of a Love Story: Reflections on the Life of a Mystic. The chapter can be read on:
The author Lewellyn Vaughan Lee reads and comments on it in the following talk:

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