Tag Archives: Journey

“Journey of Pearls” by Musa Askari

JOURNEY OF PEARLS by Musa Askari

Listen at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rysa/2011/06/14/art-and-ascension 

You tell me your story. I will tell you mine and somewhere along that road of sharing, perhaps we may encounter one another more deeply than otherwise would have been possible. Seeing and hearing in our testimonies some glimpse of that which unites us. That which beckoned us here now to be before one another.  Long before we met and spoke of our lives something has always been running through all our lives, an invisible thread of connection. What could be more invisible than Life itself, Than Soul? Whose presence, coming and going is outside of all our hands. 

As those beautiful pearl threaders sitting in silence, their act of fashioning a pearl necklace itself a meditation. As they reach for each pearl it represents a life, yours and mine, and so the time passes having placed one pearl beside each other they lay it before them and the pearls start to sing and vibrate. Listen! For now we can hear their story of how they were plucked from the depths of the oceans, carried upon boats and brought to shore. Taken from “eternal rest” they journey now in “perpetual motion”. Traded and sold, bartered and exchanged passing from hand to hand, homeless, placeless, until they arrive in the midst of the Master Pearl Necklace Maker. Tucked away in some side street of some busy town. Waiting as they do for that “moment” when the hand from above reaches in to the bag in which they have travelled and plucks them again and adds them to the already threaded pearls.  

Listen more intently and one can hear how they tell us of their beauty and sparkle, that inner light which never left them even in the dark. They have a message for us, that despite the wear and tear of life, of being discarded, disowned, moved from place to place as some object to posses, that despite all this sheer negligence they have kept themselves intact. Their beauty unaffected, untainted, as pure as when they were created. Pearls of Wisdom. For only one reason they came in to this world, retained their beauty, so that one day a craftsman par excellence may reach for them and make of them a greater thing of beauty never imagined. Beauty upon Beauty. It is for this union they waited uncomplaining.  

To read one’s story aloud either to oneself or to another is transforming. A moment of deep encounter, of healing. How many stories waiting not only to be told but also heard.  For hearing in the echo of the words from another one somehow hears another voice, another story, a long forgotten memory perhaps. Of what we once were and may be again.  We perhaps are affected deeply by certain stories for in their telling we hear our own. Either a consistent narrative or a flash or two where two paths cross. Where two lives intersect one another. Should one be able to recognise those instances consider it a gift between friends. 

For my part I was and remain deeply grateful for in the form of one life, in the life of one man I am able to say wholeheartedly I found a friend, teacher, guide who happened to be my father also. I refer to Syed Hasan Askari. 

His life for me was more than socio-historic. More than the worldly identity of a husband, father and scholar. More than simply the sum of all the inter personal actions taken by a man who found himself present in a given social ethical context. More than the value judgements society may make on any life. I saw another life beneath the layer of the outer life. I heard another story in his story. 

To hear someone’s story is also to befriend them. True friendship for me knows no boundaries of race, culture, nation, religion, a believer or not (in the conventional sense) or a seeker. Friendship reaches across all such boundaries and leaps forward, should we allow it, to another mode all together.

As I wrote in my tribute to my late father after his passing; “friendship in the sense of two becoming one. As like two hands joining together in prayer, whatever mode that prayer happens to take. You brought forward your hand, he brought forward his and together a prayer of friendship was offered up to the unseen “Friend” present in all.”  

I turned to Hasan one night in hospital, a few days before his passing, and asked him by narrating a story, “Why don’t we, right now, go back in time to that profound first self awakening moment in the history of all humanity? The unknown and unrecorded moment in history. Let us imagine a man walking along a country road, returning to his dwelling at sunset all alone. As he takes one step after another, for some unknown reason, he becomes more and more aware of his voluntary act of walking. He becomes self-conscious of his body. His hands, his feet his clothes. He asks himself would these clothes have movement if they were not draped around his body? As he finishes asking himself this question he stops all of a sudden. He notices the world around him. The faint contour of the moon in the sky, the stars, the trees swaying in the wind. He asks himself if his body is also a garment? He had encountered his Soul. That he was something more than a body. Later in the centuries that followed a name would be given in different languages to this “something more”. It would come to be known as Attma, Soul, Psyche, Ruh. We do not say this person, a man or woman was of this religion or that. It was simply a person walking along a path looking about their world and asking questions.” Hasan looked directly at me and said with a beaming and tearful smile, “Ahh, That is it. To re-discover again and again, everyday, we are….Soul-Beings!”  

(Listen at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rysa/2011/06/14/art-and-ascension “Read Your Stories Aloud”. Musa Askari reads this reflection  in conversation with blogtalkradio Host/Artist/Writer Nancy Wait & fellow guest Artist/Therapist/Teacher Louise Oliver)

“Seven Thoughts on Love” by Musa Askari

LOVE: A question, an idea, a goal, one of those elusive things that has pre-occupied humanity constantly. Therefore my first thought on love is that it is a “Constant”. Never failing and all Embracing. Crossing all categories of identification and limit. Running through them as like wind rushing through the trees and the leaves flutter all of a sudden coming to life. At times the wind rushes with such speed it overpowers, at others a gentle breeze of embrace and we rest in its arms. It is One & Many and yet no thing in one place or locality. Therefore my second thought is that it is “non-material, not physical” and thus available to all at one and the same time despite the differences in expression it may take in our lives – One Love. Leading by consequence to my third thought, one cannot speak of Love without speaking, or better still, “Remembering” one’s Being as non-material also, namely Soul. For me Love’s origin, in our lives, springs from the depth and breadth of Soul. The individual Soul and above it the Universal Soul. Love is that insignia, that spark within the Soul, that seed, which is pure “Longing”. Yearning to be whole, to be complete, to come to a rest after much wandering. It is love within the Soul that drives it, nay, compels it to yearn and long for its Source, once it realizes it has a Source, if it realizes it has a Source. Therefore, my fourth thought love is also a “returning home”. A fullness of Being.
 
If I had a choice of either constantly feeling Love’s embrace through Soul or choosing that from which the Loving Embrace originates, its Source, I would give up love and choose the Home of Love instead. For what could be more “Loving” than that which inspires the Love I feel and seek, which my Soul feels and seeks? Therefore, my fifth thought, love is also to perhaps “forsake love”, to give it up at the final stage of Soul’s journey. After much wandering and longing, love has brought my Soul from shore to shore, over still and raging oceans only to realise to cross that last threshold there can be no duality. “Do not say two. Say One!” (Hasan Askari). I must give up even the feeling of love and be within, as they say “In-Love”. The ship of the seas is no use now. The journey is of another kind. There in that Realm Soul purified of all its ills and hypnosis, filled with the Vision of Visions, there nothing what I think of love or feel is of any use. What gift can I bring to the Giver of all gifts? No gift will suffice except my very Being, my Soul. I bring it back as it was given, “empty” of all projections. Empty with only that remaining which was given in fullness. “Wheresoever one looks, one sees the Face of one’s Glorious and Majestic Lord” (Quran). It is forgotten that this ayat (verse) is more about the Soul than anything else.
 
What more drop of love can I add to the Source of Love itself? Then I, as Soul, realise with tears of joy and thankfulness, the Love within my Soul which drew me near to the Source, powerful and wondrous as it was, the wind in my sails, is nothing but an image of the Reality of Love. I give up the image and turn to the Original. Where Love is complete, simple, a Unity of all unities. Therefore my sixth thought, love is “pure”. And after such purification there is perhaps only one thing to do. Be humble with bowed head, to wait in patience for the “Beloved” to arrive. At that threshold one does not enter by one’s will for personal will was left far behind in the earlier stages of the journey. One is invited to enter at the behest of the Beloved – to be “in” Love. As the bride waits for the arrival of the bridegroom, an image well illustrated within the Indian custom as among others. And for that invitation, for that recognition, one would wait an eternity if one had to. This is “loyalty” at its peak. For there is no other to turn to. That is why perhaps we now can have a clue in the beautiful adage, “Home is where the Heart Is”.

One may be wondering why I have not referred to Beauty. Ah, but what to speak of Beauty at this stage, All is Beautiful. Love & Beauty are in Union now. And that is my seventh thought; “Beauty” itself. It drew me from the First and draws me to the Last. Should one be invited to enter in to that “Presence”, the journey continues and I cannot speak on that at present for that is Mystery, Beyond Being.

There is knowledge of Unity-Oneness (Tawhid) and then there is Unity-Oneness it-Self. The two are not the same. Words are of no use at that highest stage.
 
With such a vision, with love considered, in my view considered properly with Soul, one can then engage with the world, with family, relationships, friends, neighbours, “strangers” (in truth there are no strangers to the Soul), seeing that behind all such relationships is the same Love, one-many. “In Love” there is no such thing as the “other”. All are One. Then one may say with utmost sincerity, “Your soul and my soul are one Soul. Your God and my God is One God.” (Hasan Askari).

Of particular interest, spiritually, across diverse traditions, has been and remains the relationship between Master-Disciple, Guide-Guided and Teacher-Pupil. That relationship sits within my heart and Soul all the days of my Life. Beyond grateful to have known it and know it still.

The pendulum swing of Life. Life as a Soul, un-embodied, embodied and un-embodied once more. On the upward swing “we are of God and unto God we return”. On the downward swing, “we are of God and unto God we return”. Only as Souls can one recite this. 

From Love, With Love and In Love now and forever.  Amen!

*(photograph, January 1995, Hasan Askari & Musa Askari)

*(Thank you to Rahul Singh for asking me about “Love”)

Self-Remembering

“He was now ready to start on his journey. He looked sad. The old man said: “Start, my son. You have to go a long way.” He started moving towards the door. The old man raised his voice: “Do not worry that you might be robbed of your possessions. None can rob you of your self”. Then he gave him his rosary: “Keep this, or better still wear it around your neck.”

“Give me a sign for the journey,” the young man requested with a choking voice. The old man held him in his embrace, and said: “Let this reflection of the moon in the river be a sign to you. Let your self-remembering be like this reflection!”

By Hasan Askari – “Alone to Alone”