Tag Archives: Flower

Let Forgotten Memories Unfurl by Musa Askari

What is the moment?

When buds turn to flower

When clouds release a shower

When winter releases from its heart spring

Do you ever wonder at such things? 

Have you ever wondered

Why you are here?

And cried a silent secret tear

Have you ever wondered

From where did you begin?

Which mother’s milk did you abandon never tasting? 

Even though you may be trapped and bound

By this world that has let you down

Where are those first footprints to be found? 

Look not for them

In your earliest childhood days of this world

Continue Beyond

Let forgotten memories unfurl.

It was in March 1993 I put together the words as above. I was in my early twenties. It was a time of continued inner expansion. Many things were becoming clear on the direction my life may take. I was not only reading Plotinus (The Enneads) but also hearing my father, Hasan Askari, talk about the great mystic-philosopher, considered the father of Neo-Platonism, who is Soul through and through. I returned again and again to my father’s book “Alone to Alone” which had been published a few years earlier and new meanings came to light. The expansion I refer to was centred about one word, “Soul”: that impartible, invisible, indivisible companion of our self, both one and many at the same time. 

I learned of Plotinus’s term for the Supreme, The One – The Good. I heard about his system which referred to “emanation”. That from The One, who is above all association, emanates The Intellectual Principle, from which comes The Universal Soul and then The Individual Soul. I heard about such terms as conjoint; association of Soul with Body, with Matter. One of the most beautiful things I recall, ever-fresh, was hearing Hasan speak of Plato; that it is not the Soul in Body, but rather it is the Body in Soul. This had a transforming effect upon my thinking, upon my spirituality. It resolved many issues on the relationship between Body and Soul. It opened new doors. And still we had not come yet to ourselves; all this was Soul entire, Soul un-embodied.

It is important I explain a little what I mean by “direction”. I do not mean any worldly direction of occupation or career, of planning one’s life academically or anything of that nature. “Direction” was for me an inner movement which would dictate the outer movements.  I was already a student of my father’s work for many years. The beauty about his manner of teaching lay in that it was never forced. It was simply presented. We engaged in discussion deeply, or I observed him in dialogue with others. I observed him all on his own. And despite many serious challenges in life I witnessed an unfailing dedication to both his work and his inner self-mastery, which was one and the same. It was at moments observing a great artist at work, sculpting, painting or reflecting. 

To see his face light up at the dawn of some new idea or unravelling of some mystery was for me like watching a sun rise above the horizon. The faint advancing light that ushers in the arrival of the actual Sunrise. Ideas used to dawn upon him wherever and whatever he was doing. Either in conversation-encounter with others or all alone sitting in silence. Observing him I was certain of one thing, his mind was never far from the remembrance and praise of God.  One of the greatest lessons I was taught by him was to seek the company of solitude. To seek out time for oneself during the course of the day, to think and reflect, to be still, to pray, to remember The Supreme. It was as if one could spend an entire life time in that silence. The days could have come and gone, the seasons passing as like rushing clouds overhead. The sun could have risen and set countless times, one would never have known. 

Falcon

I developed the habit early on of waking up and being alone in silence with solitude. It was at one such moment I reached for pen paper and the poem “let forgotten memories unfurl” came about. A thought came to me. I put down the first two lines and it went from there. Ideas, images and ideas behind those images were my torch bearers, they guided me and I followed. Within those moments of the night I was seeking some understanding of soul, something, anything. To move from the discursive to the intuitive and spiritual. To lift the words of my teacher from the page and carry them upon my head as an offering for my Soul to pluck me on flight to some deeper understanding. As like an eagle or falcon plucks some morsel of food not forgetting to return to the “Hand” that released it. Talking and hearing about Soul from Hasan I came to notice the world about me more, the physical world, nature for example.

I reflected on the simple beauty of nature and started contemplating another moment within nature. One moment and yet a multitude of moments. The moment when a bud decides to flower, clouds releasing their shower. It was not that I was seeking an exact temporal timeline, that was not the goal. The goal became to ponder and reflect. To imagine oneself just being present at the very moment one particular bud decided to begin its flowering. It was as if the act of observing and flowering were one act but in different forms. To imagine that which called forth the bud to flower was the same which called one to notice it. Symbolically, one of the ways a flowering bud may be understood is akin to our eyes opening from a deep sleep.

The beauty of a bud is further increased when its petals have opened fully, reaching for the sun much like our own physical eyes more beautiful once open and light hits the optic nerve. Can one bear witness to any physical eye being beautiful in the dark? Whilst closed the beauty of our eyes is concealed, but would we deny, even when closed, that the very “Idea” of an eye is a beautiful thing. An “Idea” of beauty by which other beauties are seen, a hierarchy of Beauty, of Ideal Forms, intangible and immaterial. Now we may invoke the adage, “the eyes are the windows to the Soul”. Sometimes both acts, flowering and observing, are mirrors and the original is out of sight, at others one is the mirror and the other is the original standing before it.  It all depends at which point within the hierarchy one is “standing” as Soul. 

There also comes a point to turn the arrow of inquiry from nature to oneself, from outer to inner. To ask deeply, with meaning, with tears, with a yearning like never before, “why am I here?” Again it was not any conclusive answer I was searching. I was not seeking to unveil some crystal ball and peer in to it becoming so disoriented whereby I lost sight of the very thing that brought me to ponder the question. The power was in the question itself. The question was the guide and that I tried to keep intact. 

In coming back to Soul, on this poem, another idea came to me. Namely, above our memory, a timeline from birth to the present moment. Above all the experiences, all relationships, above all these memories, tragic and joyous, above even our dreams, there is another memory. A more Ancient Memory, that of Soul. Embedded within that memory is a “Call”, a Command almost. A beckoning for the Soul to turn its gaze from looking down at what it has created, forgetting its priors and thus forgetting its own inner memory. A “Call” to become free of being infatuated by its own beauty and seek the home of that Light which shines within it. The Home of Beauty, that from which Beauty emanates.  To look up, as it were, to its Source. Within the Islamic tradition there is a beautiful way of recalling this memory when The Quran reminds, “We are of God and unto God we return”. In other words one’s Soul is from God and unto God it returns. Quoting Hasan Askari from his 1995 speech on Spiritual Humanism, “our journey ultimately is from soul to God. Pure is your soul, purer is your approach to God”. https://spiritualhuman.wordpress.com/speech-hasan-askari-spiritual-humanism/  

We already accept there is a memory in to which we are born. A memory we have no knowledge of as we are born. It is a memory presented to us as integral to our worldly identity, a pseudo-identity I would say, a garment, a covering.  Memory upon memory which over time distances us from a far more Ancient Memory within the Soul having the potential to distance us from one another. Namely, in general terms, our collective identities of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, culture, language and religion.  Within these collective memories there are indeed gems, hints, clues, great insights, much meaning. However, it depends on how such socio-historic memories are relayed to us. As complete and absolute or temporary and symbolic.  

If we can accept, by example of such collective identities, the principle of a “memory” before our knowing of it, before our birth, then perhaps we may begin to explore another Memory above the ones presented to us here through our individual-collective lives and histories. Through story and art, through encounter and co-presence. Through Soul! Upon meeting another let us pay attention to their story for who knows what buds are beginning to flower and what forgotten memories are beginning to unfurl for both the speaker and listener.  

Originally published in “The Beginning of Fearlessness” c/o Lee & Steven Hager 

Further reading: Plotinus, The Enneads (The Knowing Hypostases): “If the Soul is questioned as to the nature of that Intellectual Principle – the perfect and all-embracing, the primal self-knower – it has but to enter into that Principle, or to sink all its activity into that, and at once it shows itself to be in effective possession of those priors whose memory it never lost: “

“A Day Like Any Other” by Musa Askari

Liaqat Begum w/o Syed Hasan Askari
Liaqat Begum w/o Syed Hasan Askari

On the passing of my mother written in 2007: by Musa Askari

Liaqat Begum

It was a day like any other. The dawn light would emerge slowly enveloping the night. The stars would fade in the sky and the sun would rise brining with it all the glory it had to bestow upon the earth. This rising would remind all those with eyes to see that the Universal Soul was taking its place upon the Throne of creation. The Universal Soul emanating as a ray of light from the Sun of all suns, One who sustains all that simply; is.

On such a day she would rise from her sleep that morning perhaps with no idea that this was the last day upon the earth. That the ordinary everyday things she did every morning and afternoon would take on greater significance simply because it would be the last time she would perform them.

The last time she would look at herself in the mirror and see her reflection looking back at her as she preformed her morning ablutions and combed her hair and put on her clothes. The last time she would see an image of her image. An image that was a reflection of her very soul.

The last time she would prepare food and eat her last meal or take a sip of water or take a cup of warm tea into her gentle hands. How was she to know that as she held that cup so carefully it was the same way God had held her all throughout her life?

The last time she would tend her garden and clean the weeds and turn the soil so that it would breathe with more ease. The last time she would smell the fragrance of a flower or feel the earth in her hands. The very dust from which her Lord had made her body is what she tended to. This earth that she tended was a creation of the inner peace that always resided within her soul, alas that she could have tasted this peace more in her life.

The last time she would feel the wind upon her face and hear the flutter of birds’ wing and their song. The last time she would wipe her brow or feel a rain drop fall in to her hand.

The last time she would pray salat to her Maker and offer up her last prayer.

The last time she would speak with another, a son, a daughter, her grandchildren, her brother, her husband.

Then would come the time when tired and fatigued from her toil in the garden she would take her last footsteps in to the house. The footsteps that began when she first walked as a child in to her mothers’ arms were now about to end. The last thoughts that passed through her mind and the last memory, recent or old, that would flash across her consciousness. The last time she would lie down never to rise as a body again. The last breath as she slept and everything within her came to rest and she was returned from which she came. May God have mercy on her Soul.

Her last day was a good day. With her tending the garden she left a sign for others. Always tend to the garden of your mind. Clear out the weeds of thoughts that infect your emotions and distract you from yourself and from those you love and have hurt you. Remember they are weak also. Having done that pay attention as time passes to new weeds and clear them. Having done that turn the soil of your mind and regenerate with new flowers and let kindness blossom like a spring morning. Then you will see and feel that you are becoming free and able to see things as they really are.  

On the passing of a loved one we often think of ourselves here and when was the last time we saw them, held them, talked to them and heard their voice. It is also worth taking time to ponder what was their last day like? What was it like to have done the normal things for the last time?

It was like any other day.

Therein, hides the beauty and kindness of God to my dear mother. That on taking her back He will not alarm her. He will not let fear come into her heart on the last day by letting her know it is the last day. Not on this day.

To Him belongs the Dominion, to Him belongs the Command.

In the very everydayness He has enveloped His Mercy to you on the last day. In the ordinary hides often the extra-ordinary. That God has weaved his taking you back in to the very fabric of your outward existence. When he is able to do this in your outer life what can he not do for you in your inner reflective and meditative life?

The inner life is what remains enshrined in the soul. This is the insignia within the soul of its association with body and leaving it again. The inner life has now burst through and can wait no longer to be the outer life of the soul. God is truly kind in helping with this transition by not alarming you on the last day.

As in birth a baby does not know it is about to be born so in death the mind and heart do not know with certainty that this is the day. He is the First and the Last. He is there at the birth of your life in this world, from the first cell to the passing of your life from this world. Why would he want to alarm you?

Every Day and Every Night and throughout all the days and nights He is ever-present. In such a presence we are humbled and truly kind and forgiving to each-other. By such a presence peace makers act and peace is bestowed and troubles are left far behind.

Every Day God gives you back your soul and so you rise to see your loved ones again and live another day until the last day. So live now until whatever day that be, live not in the past but in the now. In the everyday and ordinary God is to be found also.

She closed her eyes, she was tired now and wanted to rest and God heard her call and I pray she rests eternally and the flowers bloom eternally.

Oh my mother I remember you this day.

Salam alai kum. Salam alai kum. Salam alai kum.

Peace be upon you. Peace be upon you. Peace be upon you