Tag Archives: Meditation

“Four Breaths” by Hasan Askari

FOUR BREATHS

by Hasan Askari

(Alone to Alone: From Awareness to Vision)

One may concentrate on an idea that connects oneself to the whole of the cosmos and which heightens and deepens one’s self, and at the same time start gently and wholeheartedly breathing within. Which is so important and effective, idea or breathing in, depends upon one’s crucial choice in attention. By accompanying the act of inhaling with attention one touches the fringe of the life of the idea, its universal power and joy.

First however is the breath of purification, of burning away all that is dense and hard, all that is alien.

Second is the breath of returning from the outer limits, from the six directions of front and behind, right and left, above and below, it is a breath of returning to the seventh point, the centre within.

The centre is also the sphere; as a centre it is eternity, and as a sphere it is infinity.

Third is the breath of ascent to one’s archetype remembering that one’s form here below is an image.

The archetype is both the Self and the Cosmos, after the analogy of centre and sphere.

Fourth is the breath of adoration at the appearance of vision before the innerly directed eye, before the thought in rest, stable and gentle.

This discourse has nothing to do with one’s physical and psychological well-being. If one feels physically and psychologically healthy, that is a very minor reward. The relation of the exercise to the life of this world consists in ingathering the positive and helpful forces. The rest, its greater part, lies above consciousness, above the imaging faculty.

However, valuable, whatever be the authority on which they rest, all techniques of self-development in their elaborate rules and details, without the simplicity and willingness to surrender before the Great Work that goes on above our knowledge, are a burden keeping the novice under one illusion after another.

Pay attention to the idea, and hold it invisibly, its wonder and beauty hidden from one’s ordinary sight. Remember how one sows the seed, and hides it, and waits in trust.

“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)

“The Master’s Ring” by Musa Askari

By Musa Askari (penned 1991)

There were a group of travellers who strived to understand the nature of their “Self” by taking a path leading them to the innermost repose of their “Being”. Having attained the knowledge of seeing with “transparency” they were victorious over the fictitious presence, that “Alien” identity as Plotinus refers, which had sought to entrance them. Having arrived at this state of rest they were aware of being not only human, but also Soul-Beings. They had already forsaken the outter for the inner mode of gnosis and now eager to cross the threshold of the inner too.

For some of the group a “word” was enough to ascend to this bliss. For others the “Fatiha*” would suffice. For most the recital of the Remembrance of their Lord was a beginning. Such was the nature of the fellowship.

Whenever they gathered for meditation their Master would choose one to recite the Fatiha before entry in to Zikr* (remembrance). There was a novice among them. A frail old man on the verge of leaving this world. He had been with them many years. In all his years of service and devotion he had never been chosen to recite. In the beginning he did not expect to be asked and bowed his head when the moment arose. However, as the months and years passed this became increasingly the sole source of his concern and wonderment. Strangely, as a mark of his greater inner calm as opposed to his outter curiosity, he never once questioned or raised the matter with his Master. He waited patiently for understanding.

The night before his departure the old devotee was presented, by his Master, a ring with a cracked and chipped stone. That night he dreamt and it was revealed to him, through sign and symbol, how the stone came to be chipped (that itself a journey all its own). During the dream he passed away peacefully. The next morning his body was discovered and on his right hand was the Master’s Ring perfectly returned to its original form.

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*Fatiha. The short opening chapter of the Quran, beginning, In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds. An indispensable part of daily worship (salat).

*Zikr. Quranic in origin, meaning remembrance of God, along with fikr which is intellectual contemplation of the signs of God. In Sufi usage, it means a particular mode of remembrance, the recital of a Divine Name imparted to the novice for guidance and enlightenment.

*Soul-Beings. Term coined by Hasan Askari